How long does it usually take to get pregnant?

It’s impossible to say how long it takes to get pregnant because it’s different for each woman.

Many factors can affect a couple's chances of conceiving, such as:

  • your age
  • your general health
  • your reproductive health
  • how often you have sex

Some women become pregnant quickly, while it takes longer for others. This may be upsetting, but it’s normal.

Fertility

Most couples (about 84 out of every 100) will get pregnant within a year if they have regular sex and don’t use contraception. However, women become less fertile as they get older. A recent study has found that couples having regular unprotected sex:

  • aged 19-26 - 92% will conceive after one year and 98% after two years
  • aged 35-39 - 82% will conceive after one year and 90% after two years

The effect of age on men’s fertility is less clear.

What does ‘have regular sex’ mean?

Having regular sex means having sex every two to three days throughout the month.

Some couples may try to time having sex with when the woman ovulates (releases an egg). However, guidance from NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) advises that this causes stress and is not recommended.

Fertility problems

Fertility problems affect one in seven couples in the UK.

Many factors can cause fertility problems, including:

  • hormonal (endocrine) disorders such as problems with the thyroid or pituitary glands
  • physical disorders such as obesity, anorexia nervosa or excessive exercise
  • disorders of the reproductive system such as infections, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis or low sperm count

Some of these factors affect either women or men. In around 40% of infertile couples, there is an identifiable cause in both the man and woman.

The most common causes are ovulation failure (which itself can have many causes) and sperm disorders. In 25% of couples, fertility problems cannot be explained.

Read more detailed information about the causes of infertility.

Getting help

If you’ve been trying for a baby for one to two years without success, see your GP for advice.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 21/11/2013

Next review due: 20/11/2015