How long does it take to get pregnant and how can you increase the odds of conception? Read on to learn more.
How long does it take to get pregnant? Continue reading to learn more about pregnancy timelines and to help give you a better understanding of how long it may take to get pregnant.
How Does Pregnancy Occur?
Pregnancy occurs when a sperm cell fertilizes an egg and develops into an embryo. The embryo must implant into the lining of a uterus and develop until birth. The speed at which conception happens depends on different factors, including:
- Age: People older than 35 years may take longer to get pregnant, while those under 30 may find that pregnancy occurs more quickly. Females over 40 have the highest risk of experiencing infertility.
- Hormones: Some people experience low levels of sex hormones, or other hormone imbalances like hypothyroidism. Each of these may make it more difficult to get pregnant.
- Anatomy: Some people’s reproductive organs are positioned differently. For example, the uterus may be tilted backward, making it harder for sperm to reach an egg. This may also increase the time it takes to get pregnant.
- Sexual dysfunction: Conditions like premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction may increase the amount of time it takes to get pregnant.
- Lifestyle: Lifestyle factors like smoking, excess alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, and low physical activity may contribute to fertility issues.
- Overall health: Underlying health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure may make it more difficult to get pregnant.
Infertility refers to the inability to conceive after having unprotected sex for a year or longer. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional in this situation, to help determine the reason and identify solutions.
Sometimes, temporary situations like illness, medication use, or stress levels may influence fertility. A thorough history and physical examination may identify existing underlying issues. If not, a provider may recommend more extensive testing.
Other testing may include bloodwork to check hormone levels or a sonogram to check the ovaries or testes. Another possible test, called a hysterosalpingogram, involves injecting dye into the uterus and taking X-rays as it travels through the reproductive tract. This test helps locate things like blockages in the fallopian tubes or abnormal tissue from conditions like endometriosis.
The Male Side
The male side of infertility is often overlooked. Male infertility may stem from a low sperm count, low sperm motility (sperm that moves too quickly or not at all), abnormal sperm shape (morphology), or underlying medical issues.
Sperm count may vary greatly, even in a short period of time. A person might have an above-average sperm count one day and be below-average soon after. There are a variety of factors that affect male fertility.
Men are often unaware of their fertility status until they start having problems conceiving children. Some men choose to be proactive with their fertility by getting a semen analysis.
So How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant?
Most healthy couples trying without medical assistance should be able to get pregnant within one year of regular, unprotected intercourse. It's always important to discuss your pregnancy plan and timeline with your medical professional.
How to Improve Fertility
Taking care of your overall physical and mental health are beneficial for many reasons, including improving fertility.
For example, sticking to a nutritious, balanced diet can support fertility. An example of a healthy diet for pregnancy is a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains.
Some lifestyle factors can also improve fertility, like lowering alcohol intake or quitting smoking.
Stress reduction can also play a role. Stress can lead to difficulty conceiving, so effectively managing stress is a good way to support fertility.
How Long Should We Try Before Seeing a Specialist?
If you’re unable to conceive after a year, it may indicate infertility, so you should see a specialist. If you’ve been trying for less than a year but have concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider.