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A Guide to Fertility

How many months can it take to get pregnant?

If a couple were trying to get pregnant it would be difficult to estimate how long it would take for the woman to get pregnant. Sometimes pregnancy happens quickly but it often takes a few months of trying.

Percentage of people who would get pregnant after 1 year of trying

Adapted from Evers, J. L. H. (2002). Female sub fertility. Lancet, 360, 151-159.

Graphic 2 shows the percentage of men and women having regular unprotected sexual intercourse without contraception who would get pregnant in 1 year, according to their fertility level. By ‘regular’ we mean having sexual intercourse two to three times per month (National Institute of Clinical Excellence, 2013). If the couple were fertile, 93% would get pregnant, but if they had a mild fertility problem only 46% would get pregnant. If the couple had serious fertility problems then very few would get pregnant, less than 11%. Examples of fertility problems would be sluggish but forward moving sperm, irregular menstrual periods or one or two blocked fallopian tube(s).

Graphic 2 also shows that even people with mild fertility problems can get pregnant. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than 1 year without success then you should talk to your doctor. If you’re over 35 or older or think that you or your partner might have a fertility problem then speak to your doctor after 6 months of trying without success.

More Information

Terminology

This guide gives you information about fertility and infertility. To help understand this information we’ve included an explanation of the main medical terms used.

  • eggs and sperm

    Cells that are produced by the ovary (eggs, oocytes, ova) and testicles (sperm) and that combine after sex to produce a pregnancy. Women produce eggs and men produce sperm. A healthy sperm is motile, which means it has the ability to move. This movement is what makes it possible for sperm to reach the egg.

  • ejaculation

    Semen is the fluid produced by the male sexual organs to protect and carry sperm. The process of discharging this fluid from the penis is called ejaculation.

  • insemination

    Treatment that involves directly inserting sperm into a woman’s womb.

  • menopause

    The menopause is the time when menstrual periods stop permanently, and women are no longer able to have children. For most women this happens at about 51 years. The age a woman will reach menopause generally be similar to the age at which her mother reached menopause.

  • menstrual cycle

    The monthly changes that occur in the female reproductive system (specifically the uterus and ovaries) which make pregnancy possible. The length of the menstrual cycle is calculated as the time from the first day of a woman’s period (bleeding) to the day before her next period or bleeding. The average time between two periods for women is about 28 days but in teenagers it could be longer (up to 45 days) and sometimes 2 to 3 months, becoming shorter as the teenager gets older. There are events that occur during the menstrual cycle which are repeated each month. These are: development of the egg (phase 1), release of the egg from one of the ovaries (phase 2), preparation of the uterus for a pregnancy (phase 3), and menstruation or bleeding (phase 4). The next period then happens if there is no pregnancy. Young women should have regular periods within 3 years of the rst period occurring. Women could have some spotting in early pregnancy.

  • ovaries

    The two oval-shaped organs located in the lower abdomen (right and left side) that produce the female eggs.

  • ovulation

    Is the release of the oocyte (mature egg, sometimes called ovum) from the ovaries, ready for fertilization. Ovulation occurs about two weeks before the next period is due, for example around day 14 of a 28-day cycle or day 21 of a 35-day cycle. The actual day of release could differ between cycles and between women, and is a affected by many factors (e.g. lifestyle).

  • testicles also called testes or balls

    Oval-shaped organs that sit in a sac that hangs behind the penis. A main job of the testicles is to make and store sperm.

‘A Guide to Fertility’ was developed and evaluated by Prof J Boivin, Cardiff University.