FAQ: How long does it take to conceive?

The Count-Down to Conceiving…
How Long Does it Take To Get Pregnant?

In a modern world often ruled by categories of time and velocity, the first question many newly TTC couples ask is: “How long does it take to get pregnant?” For couples who have tactically postponed pregnancy for several years (or even a decade or more), this question can be a pressing one, especially if one’s “biological clock” is ticking. The ticking of this bio-clock refers to the status and balance of hormones, the physiological changes our bodies undergo due to hormonal fluctuation and age, and our ovarian reserve (the quantity and condition of our ova).So, how long does it take to get pregnant? There is no simple answer, of course, but this article can survey a number of fertility variables and provide a rough answer to this big question…

Let’s assume you’ve decided to have a baby. This means that all contraceptive practices are out and you’ll be “trying” on a regular basis – and by regular, doctors suggest a lovemaking frequency of at least a few times a week. As a “general rule”, most fertility doctors suggest that couples in good health with “normal” fertility can expect a 15% to 20% chance of achieving pregnancy each cycle. Under these same circumstances, this means that you can expect about six cycles (or months) to conceive, though six to nine months is hardly shocking interval – and it may even take longer than this for many couples.

Now, if you are using ovulation tests, a fertility monitor, or a bbt-fertility chart and can “pinpoint” your ovulation date, your pregnancy odds are very much enhanced each cycle. If after a year of trying, without success, it is typically recommended to visit a specialist to rule out male or female fertility issues and/or seek various treatments or health/diet improvements. If you are in your 30s, doctors recommend coming in sooner for a TTC checkup rather than later. Of course, if you have symptoms like irregular cycles, missed periods, or you believe you may not be ovulating, then talking with your doctor is a smart move from the get-go. BBT charting is very helpful in providing illuminating insights about your cycle, both in determining when you are at peak fertility or if your cycle/chart is “exhibiting symptoms” worthy of a doctor’s interpretation. For example, such indicators would include the failure to see a bbt temperature surge or to experience very short luteal phases. As a general rule, we recommend a pre-TTC talk with your health care professional, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Now, let’s look at some of the issues that can dictate how long it takes to get pregnant:

  • The Pill Factor: Oral contraceptives will certainly impact a woman’s hormones and menstrual cycle. If you discontinue oral contraception, give your body a few cycles to get back into balance. Furthermore, you can support that hormonal balance by good health, diet, exercise – everything you should be doing anyway…
  • The Age Factor: As noted above, your “biological clock” ticks in relation to ovarian reserve, hormonal capacity, and overall the physiological condition of your body/reproductive organs. Plenty of women today begin TTCing in their mid 30s, some even in their 40s. Age is a variable, however, and if you are in your mid 30s you can expect your “monthly chance” of conception to decrease, thus extending the overall time-frame. When a woman reaches her early/mid 30’s, the monthly chance of conception drops to 10 – 15%. As you age, certain pregnancy risks are also increased. If you have specific questions regarding fertility in your 30s you should talk with your doctor.
  • The Sex Factor: It probably won’t come as a surprise to most people, but successfully achieving a pregnancy depends on sex, and that means making love regularly (despite crazy schedules in a fast-paced world). The surprise, if there is one, is that many couples who experience delays in getting pregnant often are not making love as regularly as doctors advise. If you can make love two to three times a week (or more just prior to and during ovulation) then you will increase your odds of pregnancy each cycle.
  • The Health and Wellness Factor: Again, menstrual cycle health and hormonal balance are a co-efficient of general health. Diet, regular exercise, a healthy body weight, stress-relieving activities, and even a positive attitude are all contributing factors in conceiving sooner. While “stress” may originate in the head, it certainly has a wide range of physical reverberations and can stir up problems with cycle regularity and regular ovulation. Sound health and wellness will also support pregnancy and decrease the odds of complications during labor. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, find out how they might impact fertility (particularly any history of sexually transmitted disease or menstrual cycle issues). Needless to say, what we refer to as “lifestyle” choices, like smoking or drinking, affect fertility as well as pregnancy and fetal health.
  • The “Take Charge” Factor: The more you learn about fertility and pregnancy health the better your ability to leverage this knowledge to your reproductive advantage, so to speak. Learning about your body, your cycle, and your unique patterns, and then focusing on corresponding fertility signs and symptoms – from LH surge to changes in cervical fluids – will drastically support your TTC efforts and very much affect the “how long does it take to get pregnant?” question. In addition, if you may be facing fertility obstacles (e.g., ovulatory problems), the more you know about your body and cycle, the sooner you can seek various natural or medical interventions (e.g., fertility supplements, clomid, acupuncture, etc)….
  • Remove “Obstacles” that Prevent Pregnancy: Sometimes the seemingly innocuous things we do in non-TTC life suddenly become hindrances once we shift into babymaking mode. For men, this means that long-bike rides or sessions in the hot tub can hamper the ability to produce sperm or simply attenuate the motility or life-spans of existing sperm. It also means taking a look at practices like douching or using lubricants that might actually interfere with getting pregnant. Saliva can, too, put up barriers for sperm. This plays into the “taking charge” factor; the more you know, the more you can do to set the stage for conceiving (like switching to Pre-Seed).

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