How Quickly Can You Expect to Get Pregnant?

How Many Get Pregnant After One Month, Three Months, Six Months, or a Year

Just how quickly can you get pregnant? While some couples may conceive the very first month they try, most will get pregnant after three to six months. Others will need to try for up to a year. How long it takes you to get pregnant will depend on how frequently you're having sex, if you're having sex during your most fertile days, your age, and if there are any fertility issues for you or your male partner.

What Are Your Odds of Getting Pregnant Right Away?

Researchers in Germany wondered how quickly couples can expect to get pregnant. 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. Also, previous studies were biased because of their retrospective nature. In other words, the statistics were gathered after pregnancy was achieved and not collected from the beginning. What about all the couples who never conceived?

In this study, a group of 346 women were practicing natural family planning methods to get pregnant. Natural family planning includes things like body basal temperature charting and cervical mucus observation. They use these tools to determine when their most fertile days are.

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:

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

If you looked at only the couples that got pregnant eventually and eliminated the women who didn't conceive...

  • 42 percent conceived in their first month of trying
  • 75 percent by their third month
  • 88 percent by six months
  • 98 percent by 12 months

What About Couples Who Don't Get Pregnant After One Year?

What about those who don't get pregnant after one year? If you're not pregnant after one year of trying—or after six months if you're 35 years or older—then you should see your doctor. 

While 10 percent of couples may not get pregnant after 12 months of trying, half of this group will get pregnant after 36 months of trying. About 5 percent of couples will try for four years and still not get pregnant. This group of couples was unlikely to ever get pregnant without medical help.

How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant After Sexual Intercourse?

This is a slightly different question but one that many people wonder about! Let's say you do get pregnant in a given month. How long after you had sex do you get pregnant?

First, you need to keep in mind that fertilization of the egg isn't pregnancy. Not yet. Any couple that has gone through IVF treatment and had an embryo transfer that "didn't stick" can tell you this. For pregnancy to happen, an embryo needs to implant itself into the endometrial lining.

Second, you need to know that sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for up to five to six days. This means if you have sex on Monday, but ovulation doesn't occur until Friday, fertilization of the egg can only occur four days after you had sex.

However, if you had sex on Friday, and Friday is the day you ovulate, fertilization may happen within an hour. Or, it may take up to 12 hours. (You're most likely to get pregnant if you have sex the day before ovulation.) 

Once fertilization has occurred, how long before the now embryo implants itself into the uterine lining? This takes on average between 7 and 10 days but could occur as early as 5 days after ovulation.

Taking into account how long sperm survive and the time it takes for fertilization and implantation, you can be pregnant as soon as five days after you had sex or as long as 16 days.

Sometimes, women will wonder if they already are having pregnancy symptoms the day after they have unprotected sexual intercourse. They may "feel pregnant," but those feelings are not related to any possible fertilization or pregnancy. You won't have actual pregnancy signs or symptoms until implantation occurs, which means at least several days after having sex.

Why Am I Not Getting Pregnant Quickly?

Even if your doctor has reassured you that it may take six months to a year to conceive, you might be wondering why it's not happening quickly for you.

Here are some possible reasons...

Luck. It's not a very satisfying answer, but there is a degree of luck involved in getting pregnant. So much must happen for ovulation, fertilization, and implantation to occur. Not to mention the fact that the embryo needs to be healthy and genetically stable. The vast majority of early miscarriages are due to genetic defects in the embryo. (You may not even know you're pregnant if this occurs; the loss might occur before your period is late.)

Frequency and timing of sexual intercourse. You don't need to drive yourself crazy trying to aim for your fertile days. That said, if you're consistently not having sex just before ovulation, or you're having sex infrequently, this may mean you'll need more time to conceive.

Age. The older a woman (and a man) get, the longer it may take for them to conceive. This doesn't necessarily mean they will be infertile—though those odds also go up with time. But age can make it less likely you'll conceive month by month. This is partially due to lower "quality" egg and sperm, with increased DNA mistakes.

Weight. If you or your partner are obese—or, severely underweight—this can increase the time it will take you to get pregnant.

Fertility problems. You may not be getting pregnant because there are female or male fertility issues. Sometimes, there are symptoms or risk factors present, and you already know the odds of conceiving quickly might be lower for you. (If yes, you don't need to wait for a year before you see your doctor.) In other cases, the only sign that something is wrong is that you're not pregnant after six months to a year of trying.

A Word From Verywell

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. You may still conceive on your own! However, it's best to get checked out. Make sure everything is okay.

What if you're younger than 35, have been trying for six months, and don't want to wait until one year passes? Some doctors won't do fertility testing until a year goes by for women younger than age 35.

However, if you have timed intercourse each of those six months, you may be able to convince your doctor to investigate sooner. One way to show this is with a fertility calendar. 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. This is completely understandable. But keep in mind, the passage of time could lower the chances of fertility treatments working. It's better to seek help sooner.

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