One of the most common questions that OB/GYN’s are asked is “how long should it take for me to get pregnant”. Many couples, once they have made the decision to conceive, want or expect it to happen right away, and often times it does: 70% of fertile couples will be pregnant within 6 months and about 85-90% will conceive within a year.
Age is one of the most important factors effecting fertility. A woman in her twenties has about a 20-25% chance of getting pregnant each cycle. This number decreases to about 15% at age 30, and dips below 10% around 35.
What can you do to help your chances of getting pregnant?
Know when you are ovulating – for women with a 28 day cycle, ovulation occurs exactly in the middle of that 4 week period – 14 days after one period starts and 14 days before the next one begins. If you have a longer menstrual cycle (say 32 or 34 days) ovulation occurs 14 days before the start of the next period.
There are dozens of smart phone apps that track ovulation and help a woman determine her fertile days. Additionally, there are ovulation predictor kits (urine tests, much like pregnancy tests) that can help determine when ovulation occurs
Maintain a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle
Both Obese and Underweight women can have lower than expected fertility rates and problems with ovulation ( a BMI of 20-24 is probably ideal)
Smoking can decrease fertility rates and increase the risk of miscarriage
A diet high in simple carbohydrates (pop, potatoes, white flour) increases the risk of ovulation problems, while complex carbs and fiber lower the risk. Getting more of your protein from plant-based sources (as opposed to animal sources) and decreasing the trans-fats in the diet also decreases the risk of ovulatory problems
Stress and Depression – yes, your mother & your girlfriends have probably told you this, but there are studies to prove it. Women who are depressed or have a lot of unmanaged stress have higher rates of infertility and longer times to conceive.
So “when should a woman be seen for medical attention”? In the past, many doctors used one year of trying without pregnancy for women in the 20’s and early 30’s and six months for women approaching 35. However, since only about 15% of couples who have not conceived by 6 months will get pregnant with another 6 months of trying on their own, 6 months of trying with no pregnancy may be a good recommendation for all women.