Deciding you’re going to start trying to conceive is one thing … actually getting pregnant is another! Making a baby seems simple on the face of it, but it can be difficult to calculate ovulation day, or get the timing just right for the limited lifespans of sperm cells and eggs. So what can you do to boost your chances? Let’s run through the main factors.
What are my chances of getting pregnant naturally?
Unprotected sexual intercourse doesn’t always get you pregnant. Even if you do manage to successfully time it around your ovulation day, there’s no guarantee that a sperm will successfully make its way through to an egg and result, eventually, in a baby.
A healthy woman in her reproductive years with a regular menstrual cycle has about a 20 to 25% chance of getting pregnant in a menstrual cycle of trying to conceive. This works out to an about 80% chance of getting pregnant within a year, and about 90% after two years. However, factors like aging, decrease in sperm and egg quality, or diseases affecting the reproductive tract can bring down those chances.
Chances of getting pregnant decline with age
Between the age of around 25 through to your early 30s, you’ve got about a 25% to 30% chance of spontaneously conceiving from unprotected sex. However, this declines to about 20% in your late 30s, then around 5% in your early 40s, and just 1% after that.
The odds of getting pregnant go down because the quality of the egg follicles and the function of the uterus and ovaries decline with a woman’s age. This also means that if you manage to conceive naturally after 35, there’s an increased risk of chromosomal abnormality in the fetus and miscarriage.
When is the odds of getting pregnant so low it counts as infertile?
Infertility is generally defined as the inability to get pregnant after a year of trying to conceive. This is more common than you might think: as many as 6% of married American women in their childbearing years are affected by infertility.1
Infertility isn’t just a women’s problem, though. It’s estimated that while problems on the female side account for one-third of infertility cases, another third is down to problems on the male side, and another third can’t be explained or have factors on both sides.
Increasing the probability of getting pregnant
Get the timing right
Having sex on ovulation day and the three days leading up to it can boost your chances of actually conceiving. Ovulation test kits and fertility awareness methods like charting your Basal Body Temperature can give you an idea of when you ovulation day is approaching.
Sperm cells can survive in the female reproductive system for up to 5 days, while an egg can only be fertilized in the 24 hours after ovulation. If you’re trying to conceive, the best thing to do is to have regular sex in the days leading up to ovulation, so there can be sperm ready and waiting to fertilize it when the time comes.
Get your body baby-ready
Your reproductive health can often be a mirror of your general wellbeing. If there’s something out of balance in your physical or mental health, you might have a harder time conceiving. For instance, lifestyle factors like smoking, drinking alcohol, and being overweight or underweight are known to make things more difficult when you’re trying to conceive.
Stress is also thought to play a role, as the same parts of your brain that regulate reproductive hormones are involved in the fight-or-flight response. Getting your own health in order can be a great first step when you’re getting ready to have a child, so see your doctor if you need some help on making healthier lifestyle changes.
Knowing how to increase your odds of conceiving makes a difference
If you’ve just decided to start trying to conceive, simply starting off by making love around the time of the month you think you’re ovulating can be a great place to start. Once you have an idea of your ovulation calendar and you’re taking good care of your health, you’ve already taken a great step towards your reproductive goals. Until then, may the odds be ever in your favor.