How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant?
Starting a family can be a thrilling decision in your life. But it can also be stressful and full of challenges. It often takes longer than expected. Many women are not aware of these challenges until they actually start trying to conceive.
Whether you have been trying to conceive for a while, over age 35, had a miscarriage, or with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), you may want to know how long it takes to get pregnant.
Most couples got pregnant within six months to a year, with regular unprotected sex. You should see a fertility specialist if you are unable to conceive after a year.
What are the factors affecting fertility?
According to RESOLVE, 1 out of every 8 couples, or 12 percent of women have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
The timing of pregnancy differs greatly from one couple to another. In addition to regular unprotected sex, the main factors that mostly affect fertility are the following.
Age is the most important factor when it comes to female infertility. Fertility declines with age. Women are born with all the eggs they have. This means the number of fertile eggs decreases as they get older.
As women age, these eggs are also more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities. This means there are some small mistakes within their DNA. Because of this, there may be increased chances of chromosomally abnormal eggs when it comes to conceiving and producing healthy babies. This also means a higher risk of birth defects and miscarriage.
By age 35, you only have a 12 percent chance of conceiving within a three-month period. By age 40, this number drops to 7 percent.
The common cause of infertility is problems with ovulation. If there is no egg released in a menstrual cycle, the percent chance of getting pregnant is minimum.
Infertility is the main complication of endometriosis. For pregnancy to occur, the ovary must release an egg, which travels through the fallopian tube where the sperm and egg can unite. Severe endometriosis deforms the anatomy around women’s wombs, blocking the egg and sperm from uniting.
PCOS is often associated with a high level of androgens, which disrupts the rhythm of women’s menstrual cycle. The unusual level of Estrogen interferes with egg development and egg release, leading to irregular periods and fertility problems.
POI happens when a woman’s ovaries stop working before she is 40. These women may experience reduced fertility.
Getting pregnant after 40
Some women decide to get pregnant later in life. Although your chance of conceiving and sustain a pregnancy decreases by year, carrying a pregnancy to birth is not impossible after age 40.
At age 40, you have a much lower chance to get pregnant over the course of any given menstrual cycle, compared to when you were under 30. Pay attention to any signs of infertility. Here are some smart steps you can take to maximize your chance of conceiving.
Consult with a fertility specialist before conception
It is a good idea to talk to your ob-gyn doctor or fertility specialist to map out every step of pregnancy. Medical and historical conditions need to be discussed and a fertility test is recommended.
Find the best timing
Conventional wisdom says your best chance to conceiving is around day 14 of the menstrual cycle if you have a 28-day cycle length.
This may not apply anymore when you are over 40. Women of older ages tend to ovulate earlier and earlier in their cycles. It could be day 12, day 10, day 8 or even earlier. So you may not have sex at the right time.
When every chance is critical, it is good to track your ovulation so you don’t miss any cycle. Mira tracks your actual hormone concentrations. The only other place you can get to this level of accuracy is the doctors’ lab.
With Mira, you can see your unique hormone curve so you know exactly when you are fertile or non-fertile. Mira’s algorithm learns your cycle. Your test data is automatically synced and managed by the Mira App.
Working on healthy habits
It is critical to get your body into a peak shape when trying to conceive. The older you are, the harder you will have to work on your healthy habits.
You will want to exercise regularly, eat a balanced and healthy diet, and avoid caffeine and alcohol. A proper level of cardio exercise is recommended to maintain a healthy weight.
When you are young, you can behave badly and still get pregnant. After 40, you don’t want a bad lifestyle to mess up with your egg quality and hormone levels.
When to see a fertility specialist?
Every woman is different and the time taken to conceive is also different.
In general, if you have been trying to get pregnant for more than 6 months, and have used different methods such as changing your diet, taking vitamin supplements, exercising often, reducing stress, and tracking ovulation, it may be the time to visit a fertility specialist.
If you are age 35 or above, you should see an ob-gyn doctor as early as possible during your trying to conceive journey.
If you have medical conditions or a family history of women’s disease, you should see a doctor per-conception.
In addition, if the following apply to you or your partner, you may want to see a fertility specialist sooner than later.
You have had two or more miscarriages in a row.
You have endometriosis.
You have irregular cycles.
Your partner has low sperm count, poor movement or structure.
✔️ Medically Reviewed by Dr Roohi Jeelani, MD, FACOG and Lauren Grimm, MA
Dr Roohi Jeelani is Director of Research and Education at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Dr Jeelani earned her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica. She then completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, where she was awarded a Women’s Reproductive Health NIH K12 Research Grant. She is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr Jeelani has authored numerous articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific meetings. A Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Jeelani is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.
Lauren Grimm is Research Coordinator at Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, where she also completed her masters in Medical Sciences. Lauren has worked alongside Dr. Jeelani for the last 3 years, authoring a number of abstracts and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and presented her research at national and international scientific conferences. Lauren will be continuing her education this fall at Rush University Medical College in Chicago, IL as an MD candidate.
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