Trying to get pregnant

Once you’ve decided to try for a baby, an active happy sex life is all most people need to conceive.

Fertility expert Professor William Ledger sees many couples hoping to get pregnant.

“Have a happy sex life,” is his top tip. He says that some couples with fertility problems don't have sex often enough to give themselves the best chance of conceiving.

Understanding a woman’s monthly fertility cycle can be helpful. But there’s no need to try to time sex around your cycle. It’s better simply to have sex often throughout the month.

The monthly fertility cycle

Every month, hormonal changes in a woman’s body cause an egg to be released from the ovaries. This egg travels into the fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the uterus (womb). This is called ovulation.

You’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation. Ovulation usually happens about 14 days after the first day of your last period.

An egg lives for about 12-24 hours after it’s released. For you to get pregnant, a sperm must fertilise the egg within this time. Sperm can live for up to seven days inside your body, which means an egg is often fertilised by sperm that entered the body before the egg was released.

Learn more about the monthly cycle and pregnancy in When can I get pregnant?

Sex and pregnancy

If you’re hoping to get pregnant, having sex every two or three days throughout the month will give you the best chance.

You don’t need to time sex around ovulation. Trying to do this can be stressful, and being stressed may mean you have less sex.

“Some people buy special kits, or use temperature charts, to try to monitor when they’re ovulating,” says Professor Ledger.

“But temperature charts can be hard to keep and aren’t always reliable. Both kits and charts can cause unnecessary anxiety without being much use.

“Knowing your exact day of ovulation is only useful if you want to time intercourse to the day. Aim for less stress and more fun. After all, it should be a happy time.”

Find out how to give yourself the best chance of conceiving in How can I get pregnant?

How long to get pregnant?

Nine out of 10 couples in which the woman is under 35 will conceive naturally after one year of having regular unprotected sex.

There is more advice in How long does it usually take to get pregnant?

If you’ve been trying for a year or more and have not become pregnant, see your GP. Your GP can do tests to help identify possible fertility problems, and provide advice on the next steps.

If the female partner is over 35, or you’ve had problems before, such as an ectopic pregnancy or surgery that may have affected your fertility, seek help sooner.

Page last reviewed: 04/10/2012

Next review due: 04/10/2014

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The 30 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

jae85 said on 13 February 2014

My partner and I were trying for almost 3 years when I started getting extremely bad pains around time of ovulation right up to my period, I went to my nurse who told me it was one of those things and I needed to lose at least 3 stone before she would send me for tests, im a little over weight but not that much. 2 month's later I got pregnant, we put this down to being on holiday and relaxed as I wasnt mid cycle I was almost at the end. I found out at 5 weeks but miscarried 2 days later, we were having twins, the second one we lost 2 weeks later 3 days before christmas. It was heartbreaking but we decided to just try again. I started suffering with extremely bad pains again so I went to see a doctor this time, she referred me straight to the hospital as she was concerned. I had a laparoscopy and whilst they were doing this they checked my tubes they were all clear. The consultant told me she will now do any other test she can to find the problem as its been 4 years trying and thats not normal. My advice is dont hesitate if you think there maybe a problem and if your not happy with being fobbed off that your too fat or unfit then see someone else. We have 3 months to wait now for tests but knowing someone else is as concerned about it as you are relieves a lot of the stress that you build up inside. Good luck to anyone struggling its a horrible thing to go through

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Daisy80 said on 11 February 2014

There's so much pressure to conceive within the 'magical' 12 months! Some comments have said to rush to the doctor if it hasn't happened in 12 months....I'd say just wait. Don't bring medical intervention into it too early. One word: stress. And stress does not make a baby. Stop drinking alcohol, don't smoke, take supplements & moderate exercise. The supplements we took were: Pregnacare conception for him and her, extra zinc for him, and most importantly for him, Tribulus Terrestrius herb. This boosts sperm motility. We went to doc eventually and it turned out hubby had poor sperm motility. We'd still be ttc now if we hadn't found Tribulus (a herb used by body builders). It's worked for us four times now! And we always conceive within 3 months when hubby is taking Trib. Ok, we had two miscarriages (I'm unsure if they were due to the Trib- we'll never know- more likely due to chance) but that's ok.... One beautiful baby later and second one on the way, i'd tell anyone to try Tribulus even if you don't know what your problem is. Sometimes you just don't wanna go down that road of tests and interventions etc that cause stress and drive a wedge between a formerly loving couple.

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grumps said on 11 May 2013

I am 33 and 22 weeks pregnant on my second attempt. I don't know if this had anything to do with it but I had been practising some breathing yoga techniques taught by a very famous Indian yoga guru. The techniques he shows have been claimed to help several illnesses and also claim to keep the reproductive system healthy.
Their are two main breathing techniques that are the most powerful, kapalbhati and anulom vilom.

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Sunshine789 said on 21 February 2013

When I struggled to get pregnant, there were a few things that I didn't realise that may have helped.
Everyone is focussed on counting forward 14 days from the start of your period until ovulation, whereas, it's best to count back from the end of your period if you have a slightly longer cycle. e.g. a cycle of 31 days may mean that you are ovulating around day 16 or 17.
There is usually a lot of mucus when you are ovulating.
These days, many people have business trips or are working late and don't get round to having sex as regularly as they need to. Don't just focus on that middle of the month time, try to make love as regularly as possible and above all, stay close to each other, as the distress can easily drive your other half away.
If you get a chance to have little breaks away together, even a house-swap with friends to keep the cost down, a change of scenary may mean that you get the chance to be intimate more often.
Seek medical help if it's not working after a year, but IVF (and similar techniques) just create eggs - they can't guarantee that they will create a baby.
I tried for nearly 3 years in my mid to late 30s (my husband's choice, not mine), nearly drove him away with my constant focus on trying to stop him drinking etc. and probably dragged everyone else down with me. I couldn't think of anything else and just wished the weeks away. We tried ICSI, had 3 miscarriages, was told that I was unsuited to ICSI drugs and that they wouldn't use them again and that I would have to start to accept life without children. I really had to work hard to win his love back, as I decided I'd be even worse off if we split since I would have to find a new partner. My husband changed jobs and only after starting the new job did we realise what stress he'd been under at work and how it had dominated our lives.
6 weeks after ICSI failed, I fell pregnant! I now have two wonderful children, born naturally. I don't why, probably a combination of the above.

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raebarcus said on 12 November 2012

Visiting your gynecologist is also very important.

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jwellington said on 15 October 2012

This article is information. Just remember, if you have been trying to get pregnant, bare in mind that as with most things in life, it may take some patience. It did for me. Good luck and God bless everyone!

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NicJane said on 01 October 2012

My husband and I have been ttc for 3 months and although it's early days I seem to have fallen into a negative mind frame I can't claw my way back out of. We had a miscarriage 22 months ago and I needed time to heal before we tried again. When I misscarried the doctor at the hospital didn't even look at me as he told me I had lost the baby, I said but I'm pregnant and he said 'well you're not now' and then handed me a prescription for what turned out to be a carrier bag full of tablets he never explained. I made a doctors appointment days later to have everything explained to me and my gp never took his eyes off his copter screen, he said 'these things happen, let your body deal with it naturally.' I spent the next few months just trying to drag myself through each day. My husband eventually managed to drag me to the doctors again because I was bleeding off and on throughout each month; sometimes really heavy and sometimes just spotting but it was continuous and the pain I had deep up inside was becoming unbearable. I was handed a prescription for antibiotics and again my gp didn't look at me the whole time I was in the room. I was crying through the 2 minutes I was in the doctors room and all he said was ' probably an infection, I'll give you antibiotics, don't miss any of the pills.' I spent the next few weeks exhausted, in pain (emotionally and mentally more than physically). I went back to the gp several times over the next 4-5 months and was handed precriptions for antibiotic, pain medication and god knows what; I stopped looking at what I was given, I just hoped something would work. I lost faith in doctors and eventually I began to have panic attacks at the mention of anything medical, my mum tried to get e to the doctors at one point and I had a severre panic attack and collapsed. 22 months later, my periods have regulated as far as I only bleed once a month now but it is so light it is virtually non existant and only for one day. I'm scared I wont concieve

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keep smiling said on 11 August 2012

From reading all of your concerns..here is a little of my story to help reassure you in some way :) I'm 32 and myself and my hubby are coming up to 2 years of trying to conceive. After 12 months because of my age, i went straight to the GP to get all the tests to start picking away at this 'hitch' in our family planning!! everything came back normal: no STD's, no pelvic problems, blood tests fine, all ok. Ive always had regular period etc etc. I like many of you have friends who have conceived by blinking at their partners!! in fact, my best friend was ttc same time as us and she has: conceived, carried, had maternity leave, come back to work and we've celebrated a 1st birthday, and i know how challenging it can be. Waiting times at the hospital were 12-18months, which floored me. so we made a private consultation (£200) and had a blood test to check that i a) produce eggss and b) they are good ones. Hubby had sperm test (NHS) all ok. Then i had dye in my tubes to check they were not blocked (Private) and an ultrasound (private) which detected...a polyp! apparently these can be quite common. had it removed 6 weeks later (NHS) had my check up, and we've been given 6 months to try again naturally. Its been 3 and nothing yet, but in Nov we will discuss next steps. You've got to stay positive...once you hit that 12 month mark, get to the docs. Its amazing how much better you feel by taking steps to solve the problem. Even being faced with the prospect of being told we couldnt have kids suddenly felt better than not knowing anything at all. Keep talking to your partners about it...i had to sometimes just say "d'you know? being at that kids party today was hard" or "I'm relieved im not jealous so and so is pregnant'. Wishing you all lots of luck as you carry on this journey!

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Carefreeandyoung00 said on 07 August 2012

Hi, I've just turned 28yrs old. I came off the pill last September & haven't yet conceived. It was only recently I started using an Ovulation Calender as my partner & I just thought if it happens it happens. Anyway, we have started using the calendar & having sex on the days it says I'm most fertile but haven't had any luck. It seems now, when my periods do come I suffer from sweats, blotted tummy, sore boobs & very sensitive nipples, I also eat a lot more now. I was sick yesterday morning & started bleeding on Sunday night but my period was due Monday & have had a very very light period. Can anyone help me out on why my bodies changing so much when my periods are due but I'm never falling pregnant? My periods have never been heavy they usually last about 3-4 days but I only had a proper bleed yesterday it seems to be pretty light today & there starting to stop. My cycle is every 28 days although the odd occasion there 26 or 27.

Thank you.

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AshleaJade said on 10 June 2012

I've been trying for a baby for the last year! I've noticed lately that I'm craving foods! Boobs have got biger and they are sore, out of beath easy, I've gone off food I normally like but I come on my period today and its heavy is it likely that I could still be pregnant? Someone please help me.

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natalie2012 said on 29 May 2012

hi, im a 26 yr old with a 7yr daughter, i ovulated on either the 26th may or the 27th, i am unsure as i have two ovulation calenders on my phone and they give 2 different dates. i had intercourse on the 25th, 26th and the 28th. for the last 2 days ive felt sick 1 min and the fine the next, my stomach does not feel normal even though ive been eating fine. ive been on folic acid for just over two weeks nearly 3 and i felt perfectly fine last week. i would like to find out that i am pregnant but at the moment im worrying myself silly with "what if". if any body has been though what im goin though now please give me some advice and reply as i need some good news atm but no time wasters please.

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ladyess said on 07 March 2012

Hi,

me and my partner have been trying for one year for a baby i am 22 i have no acne and am not hairy i am also not over weight at all but i do have polycycstic overies. I have regular periods that are exactly 28 days apart and i pretty healthy could anypne help?

your answers would really be appreciated thansk all

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ladyess said on 07 March 2012

hi ,

can someone please help i have regular periods to the day always arrive on the 28th day without fail. i am not over weight at all and have no acne and i am not hairy but i do have polycystic overies have been trying to get preg for a year now and nothing at all is happening anyone have any advise?

Thanks your answers would be appreciated xxx

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kez4 said on 07 February 2012

So me and my partner have been trying for a baby for the last 5months now and we have had no luck. I don't have a regular cycle so it is hard for me to tell when i'm ovulating or not, but we always have sex at least 2 times a week, sometimes more. I know it can take up to a year to concieve but everyone i know who have had a baby have conceived within 2-3months of trying and it is really getting to me. my partner had a fertility test about a year ago and his sperm were fine. I'm thinking it could be a problem with me but i've never had any symptoms of any problems. My partner does smoke and have the occasional drink, and i used to smoke and also have the occasional drink. i know i'm slightly overweight but that shouldn't affect our chances too much. Do you have any suggestions as to why i may be unable to conceive after trying for 5months ? culd it be because my periods are irregular or im slightly overweight. or could i have problems with my ovaries etc. andy advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks x

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Em1234 said on 24 January 2012

My partner and I have been trying to conceive now for over a year with no luck, I was previously on the pill for just over 4 years. My partner has had his sperm tested at the doctors and all is fine, and I have had a blood test done which says I'm ovulating but that's as far as the doctors will go. Because I am under 35 and I am having regular periods then my doctor cannot refer me for any further tests. We are having sex at least every 2-3 days all throughout the month so it's disheartening when my period keeps showing up. My sister has a blocked fallopian tube and is having problems conceiving but because this is not hereditary the doctor won't refer me for further tests. Can anyone recommend any supplements or vitamins that might boost our fertility? I can't wait another 6 years before even being tested to see if there are any underlying problems.

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kay505 said on 26 October 2011

katie1979,did you see the gyneacologist?have they checked if you haven't got polycystic ovaries?ultrasound and a blood test will show it.just go to your gp, tell him/her that you need to be reffered to the specialist.If you not ovulating there are drugs they can give you to help.
Be firm when you go to see your doctor and don't let them send you away with only 'loose weight" advice.
If you can afford it go and see a specialist (even if it's only as a one off, so you can have a scan without waiting for months).
I've been through all this and it's hard, but if you determined you will make it happen.
Good luck!

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katie1979 said on 07 October 2011

hi, i need help to get pregnant. I have irregular periods which have been the same since i started them, then i went on the pill which sorted them out. Have been off it now for over a year and my periods have gone irregular again ( one every three months) I have lost count on how many negative pregnancy results i got. Have been to see my gp but because my bmi is 31 they wont do anything, all they say is lose weight. Thats all good but i dont lose weight easily! Has anyone got any advice because im only 31 and getting really depressed about it.

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TrinityP said on 24 August 2011

Hi Glynsgirl, I dont usually post on forums but I saw your comment and wanted to tell you I have a Uterus didelphys
too and I have had one successful pregnancy, it wasnt an easy one and I have had misscarriages but dont give up hope because it can happen, I am living proof! My son was born by c-section and is going to be 3 next week. We were told at 13 weeks not to expect him to live past 20ish weeks as with our condition (well mine at least) our wombs tend to be smaller than they should be but we had hope and he was a healthy 8lb baby! Have been ttc again for 2 years now but think its more of an ovulation issue rather than Uterus didelphys, have you been tested for other possible causes?

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glynsgirl said on 04 July 2011

I am 26 and i have got Uterus didelphys
Uterus didelphys -- or a double womb -- is a pretty rare condition. It affects anywhere from about one in 1,000 to one in 1 million women worldwide, and it sometimes occurs in families. In my case i got double wombs, those two wombs share a set of Fallopian tubes, overies, and two cervixes i had a surgical procedure to join her two vaginas into one, but the wombs are typically left separate.. me and my husband been trying for a baby for over 5 years with no such luck :-(

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amyjade said on 25 June 2011

help me get pregnant please. In 2008 i had an early miscarriage the pregnancy was not planned but was delighted when i found out. Im 25 years old and have not got any children my partner has 2 children from a previous relationship, ive been to the doctors but they seem to not want to know, just say well we know you can get pregnant because you got pregnant before. Im so scared i cannot have children is getting me down all i want to be is a mom. We have an healthy sex life and my periods are like clock work. Someone please help please give me some advice because fed up of the disapointment when i get my period every month. please.

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SA42 said on 29 January 2011

A bit of personal experience on getting pregnant: I'm 42 and am 6 months pregnant with my first child, having had an earlier missed miscarriage (aged 41), about 6 months before getting pregnant with this baby. ( Before that, my partner and I had been trying to conceive for about 9 months).

Both times I fell pregnant, I had heeded a brief report I read in New Scientist magazine of about 2008/9: this article presented new research saying that even *moderate* exercise can reduce your chances of conception. (Sorry, can't find the reference for the article: if you search the internet, you'll find a 2007 New Scientist article saying not to take heavy exercise -- this is now standard medical advice, and that's not the article I'm referring to.) What I did was stop exercising (running, which I'd previously done 3 times a week) from the start of the period before I conceived (so, two weeks before ovulation), and I didn't take up moderate exercise again until I knew I'd conceived -- actually, with this pregnancy I haven't been running or to the gym again, full stop.

Of course, I'm not saying this is *the* answer to getting pregnant, but it is the only common denominator I can think of between the two times I became pregnant (and incidentally, the first time I was work-stressed and not getting enough sleep!). I'm also not saying to drop all exercise: aside from the fact that you're apparently more likely to conceive if you're a healthy weight in the first place, maintaining some exercise is good for you and the foetus. Since stopping running, I've instead been on many long walks, and now walk 45 minutes to work every day.

Good luck to all women trying to conceive!

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angenoir said on 26 August 2010

my partner works away, so knowing when it is a good time to dtd is vital as it sometimes involves a day off of work. unfortunately despite regular bbt monitoring and otk's, we have still had no luck. any other suggestions??

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Galaxy55 said on 24 February 2010

I have a low normal sperm count (more abnormal forms than desired) i have a child from a previous marriage my wife now has 2 children from a previous marriage, does the sperm (form ) count change with age? Is there anything i can take to help!
Thankyou.

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Boothysgirl said on 23 February 2010

hi everyone i had a miscarriage in 2008 and have been trying to get pregnant since then.
I am 38 and have two daughters from my previous marriage who are ages 20 and 17.
My partner also has two children so i know we are both capable of making babies.
I feel my clock is ticking away and i will never have another baby. I have just started taking an herbal supplement called vitex and also royal jelly.
I will do anything to have another baby i am so sad at my miscarriage.

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angielouise said on 16 October 2009

I am 34 and my partner had a vesectomy reversal 2yrs ago he also works away a month away and a month home. We have been trying for a baby since the reversal any advice?

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eralcd said on 08 September 2009

My husband had a reversal over a year ago, his most recent test was very good, count and mobility normal. We want to start a family. We had sex almost everyday except during my period. I am on the road to quitting smoking. We both exercise everyday and eat healthy. Still no pregnancy. We have both seen our doctors but both have said they cannot help, we need to try harder. How much hardeer can we try?! This is making me very depressed as he already has 2 children and his ex wife has endimetriosis and they still managed to have 2 girls naturally. Any advice would be very much appreciated. Im 24 and my husband is 38.

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swatson said on 28 April 2009

i use to use the implant about a year ago i had it removed!! im still not pregnant me and my husband have tried everything but the doctor said i cant go see them about it untill its been 15months since the implant was takin out! any suggestions??? im only 21 and im reather healthy and starting to think something is wrong with me.

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diana87 said on 21 February 2009

i have justhad my inplant removed 3 days ago stil bleeding a small amount but i have had my period from middle of january me and my boyfriend never use condoms and i would like to know how quick can i get pregnent after having my implant removed and do i need to be off my period when i try to concive?age 21

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User160469 said on 16 February 2009

I am currently using the implanon contraceptive and really want another baby, I have been told that when i get it removed my fertility will return to normal very quickly, the thing is that I want to start trying next month so that the baby is born before my university degree exams next May, and I am worried that my periods might take longer to come back.
If anyone has any suggestions please let me know!
Thanks. (age 23)

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User65117 said on 17 November 2008

I've been trying for the past year but unsuccessful. It's hard to judge when I'll be ovulating as my periods aren't always regular. I try to have sex every day between periods so that I make sure that I dont miss out. There is miscarriages and endometriosis in my family so not sure if that affects it and my Dr told me I had an underactive thyroid (which wasn't bad enough to get treated with thyroxine) any suggestions? (age 26)

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