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How soon can you get pregnant after you start trying?

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Updated July 10, 2014

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Question: How soon can you get pregnant after you start trying?

 

Many couples wonder how quickly they will get pregnant after they start trying. When getting pregnant doesn't come easily, it can feel like everyone else conceives after a month or two. How long does it really take?

 

Answer:

Researchers in Germany also wondered how soon couples can expect to get pregnant, and they were especially interested in how common infertility and subfertility are. (Subfertility can be loosely defined as someone who takes longer than average to get pregnant, but eventually will succeed on their own without help.)

The researchers felt that previous research on how soon couples can expect to get pregnant eliminated truly infertile couples, or were biased because of their retrospective nature. In other words, the statistics were gathered after pregnancy was achieved, and not collected from the beginning.

In this study, they took a group of 346 women, who were practicing natural family planning methods, to get pregnant. Natural family planning uses tools, such as body basal temperature charting and cervical mucus observation, to determine when the most fertile days are. That means that this group of couples knew which days to have sex if they wanted to get pregnant, so mistimed intercourse would not be behind failure to conceive.

The results are interesting:

  • Of the 346 women, 310 women conceived.
  • The remaining 10.4%, or 36 women, did not get pregnant.
  • After one month of trying, 38% were pregnant.
  • After three months of trying, 68% were pregnant.
  • After six months of trying, 81% were pregnant.
  • After twelve months of trying, 92% were pregnant.

Also, if you looked at only the couples that got pregnant eventually, and eliminated the women who didn't conceive, 42% conceived in their first month of trying, 75% by their third month, 88% by six months and 98% by 12 months.

In a separate study, they found that while 10% of couples may not get pregnant after 12 months of trying, half of this group would get pregnant after 36 months.

Five percent of couples, however, will try for four years and still not get pregnant. Researchers found that this group of couples was unlikely to ever get pregnant without medical help.

The Bottom Line

If you feel like the majority of your friends get pregnant after only a few months of trying, according to these statistics, that's probably true. (I always thought it was my imagination that I was surrounded by super-fertile people.)

If you've been trying for less than six months, don't fret just yet. Keep trying.

If you're older than 35, and you've been trying for six months, see a doctor. Since age can be a factor, it's important you don't wait.

If you've been trying for six months, but you're younger than 35, you could still see your doctor and ask for an evaluation. Some doctors won't do fertility testing until a year goes by for women younger than age 35, but if you have truly timed intercourse each of those six months, you may be able to convince your doctor to investigate sooner.

If you've been trying for a year and you're not yet pregnant, you should definitely see a doctor. If you've been trying for two, three or four years, what are you waiting for?

Some couples hold out hope, not wanting to face the music. I can completely understand this wish, but the passage of time could lower the chances of fertility treatments working, especially if age is a factor. Don't waste anymore time -- go see a doctor, and get you and your partner checked out.

More on how to get pregnant:

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Sources:

Gnoth C, Godehardt D, Godehardt E, Frank-Herrmann P, Freundl G. "Time to pregnancy: results of the German prospective study and impact on the management of infertility." Human Reproduction. 2003 Sep; 18(9):1959-66.

Gnoth C, Godehardt E, Frank-Herrmann P, Friol K, Tigges J, Freundl G. "Definition and prevalence of subfertility and infertility." Human Reproduction. 2005 May; 20(5):1144-7. Epub 2005 Mar 31.

 

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