How long does it take to get pregnant? It’s a question that rather frustratingly warrants an answer about a piece of string. While some lucky couples get pregnant on the first try, it can take others years, often with no discernible cause. Your chances of getting pregnant are dependent on a number of complex factors, the importance and parameters of which sit on a sliding scale alongside your age. So at what point should you consider yourself as having trouble conceiving and seek help? Here we break down your chances of getting pregnant by age and offer advice on when to see your doctor about tests and treatment for infertility.
The importance of age
As a woman is born with all of her eggs, age is one of the most important factors when it comes to fertility. Both the number and the quality of a woman’s eggs gradually decline as she reaches menopause, which can impact both the chances of getting pregnant and the ability to carry a baby to term. The effect of age on male fertility is less clear, so the following applies to female age only.
Chances of getting pregnant aged 20 to 24
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in this age group, your chances of getting pregnant are very high. At the age of 21, 90% of the average woman’s eggs are chromosomally normal, meaning if you do conceive, you’re pretty unlikely to have a miscarriage. According to the stats, women under the age of 25 have a 96% chance of conceiving within a year if they’re trying each month. As time is on the side of this age group, most doctors would happily see couples try for up to two years before offering tests or treatment for infertility. If you’re very keen to get your family started or plan on having a huge brood, however, you might want to ask your doctor to perform fertility tests on you and your partner after unsuccessfully trying for a year.
Chances of getting pregnant aged 25 to 29
From 25 to 29, you’re still in a very good place when it comes to baby-making. This age group has an 86% chance of conceiving after trying for a year. The chance of miscarrying in this group is only 10%, just over 1% higher than those aged 20 to 24. Women in this group should ask their doctor to perform fertility tests after one year of unsuccessfully trying. However, women in this age group and below will not typically be offered IVF on the NHS until two years have elapsed.
Chances of getting pregnant aged 30 to 34
The good news is there is no change in your chances of conceiving in this age group as compared to the one below (86% after one year). The bad news is that your chance of miscarrying has doubled to 20%. This age group is typically still advised only to seek professional help after one year of trying, although some doctors suggest shortening that to nine months. Pro tip: If you’re seeking fertility treatment on the NHS, your doctor is unlikely to run tests until you’ve hit that one-year mark. If you would like to be tested after nine months, therefore, be prepared to be a little creative with your maths.
Chances of getting pregnant aged 35 to 39
Conventional wisdom dictates that a woman’s fertility drops off a cliff at age 35. The human body is, however, rarely so exact and unwavering, and a decline in fertility is in fact still gradual after this age. At 35, a woman has a 15-20% chance of getting pregnant in each month of trying, equating to a 78% chance of conceiving within a year. Your chance of miscarriage has increased to 25%, however. Women in this age group should approach their doctor for testing if they fail to conceive after six months of trying.
Chances of getting pregnant aged 40 to 44 (and beyond)
This is the age where things start getting a lot tougher when it comes to conceiving naturally. By the time a woman is in her 40s, 90% of her eggs are chromosomally abnormal, pushing the miscarriage rate up to a heart-breaking 50%. At 45, your chances of getting pregnant naturally are only around 4%. Those trying to get pregnant in this age group should, therefore, consult a doctor after just three months of trying. If this applies to you, however, don’t lose hope. IVF is still a viable option for women in their early 40s, with up to a 20% chance of success for a 42-year-old. By 45, the success rate of IVF drops to just 1%, even though eggs are screened for chromosomal abnormalities. After 43, therefore, IVF with an egg donated from a younger woman is often advised. Encouragingly, up to 65% of women aged 46 to 50 have successful pregnancies after receiving an egg via IVF from a healthy 25 to 30-year-old.
How can I increase my chances of conceiving naturally?
The most important thing to remember about getting pregnant naturally is that it's entirely possible, and you can strengthen your chances by knowing your own cycle. Everyone is different which makes it all the more important to know when you're about to ovulate. By tracking your LH hormone throughout your cycle, you'll be able to understand what your base level of LH is and what your surge looks like. Your LH surge is the best indication that an egg will be released 24- 36 hours after your LH rises (at least double your baseline LH number.)
This can differ for everyone and that's why it's so important to track your levels precisely. By pinpointing your fertile window, you'll give yourself the best chance of conceiving naturally, regardless of age. Timing is everything!
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