How long does it take to get pregnant?

Find out how long on average it takes couples to conceive.

Some women get pregnant very quickly, in fact 1 in 3 women who are having regular sex (every 2 to 3 days) or timing sex around ovulation, will conceive within a month.

If they are having regular unprotected sex:

  • more than 8 out of 10 couples where the woman is aged under 40 will be pregnant by 1 year
  • more than 9 out of 10 couples will get pregnant by 2 years.

Regular unprotected sex means having vaginal sex every 2 to 3 days without using contraception.

However, age makes a difference. Starting at age 34 your ability to get pregnant starts to decline gradually.

Age and getting pregnant

Your age is not something you can control. Many women are having babies later in life for very valid reasons such as not feeling stable enough to support a child (for example, with money or housing), not wanting to have a child before or not having a partner to have a child with.

However, we know that fertility (ability to get pregnant) declines with age and this decline speeds up after the age of 35. This is because the number and quality of eggs decreases. Male fertility also declines with age, though not as much as female fertility.

One study found that for couples having regular unprotected sex:

  • around 7 out of 10 women aged 30 will conceive within one year
  • around 6 out of 10 women aged 35 will conceive within one year
  • around 4 out of 10 women aged 40 will conceive within one year.

After the age of 40, it gets harder to conceive and you may be offered fertility treatment.

Read more about age and fertility.

Improving your fertility

Fertility is affected by lifestyle. There are some things you can do to improve your fertility. For example, if you smoke it will take you longer to get pregnant than a non-smoker. If you give up smoking now, your chances of conceiving faster will increase.

Other things you can do to improve your fertility include:

  • being a healthy weight
  • being active
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • cutting caffeine to under 200mg a day
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding recreational/illicit drugs.

Find out more about what to do before conception.

Stopping contraception and getting pregnant

Some types of contraception may delay fertility for a while after you stop taking it. For example the progestogen-only injection for contraception may delay normal fertility for up to one year after the last injection. Find out more about stopping contraception. 

If you take the contraceptive pill many doctors advise that you should delay trying to conceive until you have had one normal period. This helps them to date a pregnancy more accurately.

When should I get help with conception?

Around 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving. This is approximately 3.5 million people in the UK.

Speak to your GP if you have been trying for a year conceive.

Many doctors prefer you to have been having regular sex without contraception for at least a year before referring you for fertility tests. Regular sex means 2-3 times a week.

You should see your GP sooner if:

  • you are over 36
  • you have a known fertility issue, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • your partner has a known fertility issue, such as low sperm count
  • you are concerned you or your reproductive partner may have an undiagnosed medical issue that may be affecting your ability to get pregnant.

There are ways to help couples conceive if they're having problems getting pregnant. Find out more about fertility problems.

Find out more about how you will know when you are pregnant.

 

Sources

Sozou PD,Hartshorne GM (2012) Time to Pregnancy: A Computational Method for Using the Duration of Non-Conception for Predicting Conception. Plos One. Published: October 4, 2012 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0046544

Gnoth C, Godehardt D et al (2003) Time to pregnancy: results of the German prospective study and impact on the management of infertility, Human Reproduction, Volume 18, Issue 9, 1 September 2003, Pages 1959–1966, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deg366

RCOG (2011) Reproductive Ageing. Scientific Advisory Committee. Opinion Paper 24. London: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. www.rcog.org.uk

NHS Choices (accessed May 2018) Infertility, Page last reviewed:14/02/2017  Next review due: 14/02/2020. www.nhs.uk/conditions/infertility

NICE Guidelines (2017) Fertility problems: assessment and treatment National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Leridon H. Can assisted reproductive technology compensate for the natural decline in fertility with age? A model assessment. Human Reproduction 2004;19(7):1548.

British Medical AssociatIion (2014) Smoking and reproductive life; The impact of smoking on sexual, reproductive and child health, page 13

NHS Choices [accessed May 2018] Quit Smoking, Page last reviewed:16/01/2016 Next review due:04/01/2019 www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/

Clinical Knowledge Summaries (Aug 2017) Pre-conception advice and management https://cks.nice.org.uk/pre-conception-advice-and-management

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    Last reviewed on June 5th, 2018. Next review date June 5th, 2021.

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    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By luka (not verified) on 9 Oct 2019 - 17:14

      Hi dear please I last saw my period on the 25th of September and I had an unprotected sex on the 5th of October please what are my chances of being pregnant please ?

    • By HELEN ANTHONY (not verified) on 5 Oct 2019 - 21:24

      Hi. Pls help i gave birth since january last year an since then i an my pathner have been having sex but yet till we can't till have another child,pls help me .DR

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Sep 2019 - 05:24

      Please help I hard unprotected sex. On 7th of this month and my priod came out on 27 last month
      Is there any chance that I can get pregnant

    • By Rhea Varma (not verified) on 22 Sep 2019 - 05:28

      Hi I'm 26 years old. I had sex 3day after my period got over. It was without a condom and he did not cum in me. I have been regularly smoking and drinking. But I have missed my period. It's on a 10days delay and the test stays negative. Is there a possibility that I can be pregnant.

    • By Mary (not verified) on 28 Aug 2019 - 11:54

      I had my last period on june 6 this yr since then i havent seen them again and my pregnancy test is negative and i need a baby what can i do and i have sex almost daily and i do not use any pills i was using there b4 please help

    • By Aimee (not verified) on 20 Aug 2019 - 08:25

      Hii!! Such an lovley site!! I want to get pregnant i have sex every second day without condom or any pills im 18 and im starting to think im not cable of having a child as we are trying for a year now. Some advice please

    • By Grace (not verified) on 27 Jul 2019 - 14:21

      Pls took postinor 2 tab 30 min after unprotected sex four days after ovulation pls is it likely to get pregnant

    • By Ola (not verified) on 18 Jul 2019 - 15:33

      I had sex on the 4th of april i also had with another man on the 8th of april now am pregnant how do i calculate who is responsible meanwhile my delivery date is said to be december 23 2019

    • By Ella Mai (not verified) on 16 Jul 2019 - 22:09

      Hello..I had my last on 16July when I suppose to do sex to get pregnant

    • By chioma (not verified) on 25 Jul 2019 - 14:53

      i want a baby

    • By Katusiime mercy (not verified) on 2 Jul 2019 - 03:56

      Thanks so much for the advise.. my question ...can one get pregnant like in a week time to the next menstual period?thanks

    • By ngozi ezeuba (not verified) on 25 Jun 2019 - 18:44

      I see my period on fifth June

    • By Glory jonah (not verified) on 7 May 2019 - 12:25

      Hello, I have my least period on the 4th of April, and I have sex on the 18 to 20 and I still see my period on 7th of may. I need your help Doctor sonya. I want get pregnant.

    • By my name is lera... (not verified) on 21 Apr 2019 - 19:22

      how could i get pregnant bcuz i need a baby ...i had unprotected sex almost everyday but i don't get pregnant....i was preventing 4 months ago ...can you help me?

    • By Shona (not verified) on 25 Mar 2019 - 17:47

      Hii... I had my last period on 21 feb 2019.. I had sex on 19 March.. And now I have missed my periods.. I m in tension, is there any chance to get pregnant.. Help me plz

    • By sarah (not verified) on 11 May 2019 - 15:18

      Sounds like you could be pregnant buy a test and find out

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Jun 2018 - 16:58

      Hi Sonya,
      Thank you so much for such lovely feedback and glad you find the site so helpful. Well spotted with the typo! We shall get this changed.
      Thanks again
      Tommy's midwife

    • By Sonya84 (not verified) on 14 Jun 2018 - 17:39

      The site is so helpful, thank you for doing all this amazing work!

      Just noticed that a link appears missing in second paragraph in Age and getting pregnant section:

      "However, we know that fertility (ability to get pregnant) declines with age (link to maternal age page)..."

    • By Rosy (not verified) on 3 Jul 2019 - 21:16

      I want to be pregnant

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