What You’ll Learn in This Article
- What to expect in terms of how long it on average takes to get pregnant.
- Why the decline in fertility as you age isn’t as bad as you think.
How Long Does it Take to Get Pregnant?
Let’s talk about how long it takes -on average- to get pregnant! Before I go any further, I want to take a quick trip back to middle school.
Maybe you just got your period and you’ve heard your girlfriends talk about getting pregnant from sitting on a toilet seat, or swimming in the pool. And you kinda knew it was BS, but then your period was late, and you seriously started to wonder if this myth was actually a myth or if you COULD just end up pregnant without even getting CLOSE to a boy.
Well, those days are long gone and most of us know that getting pregnant isn’t always that easy. Because you know that you can have sex at the exact right time and still fail to conceive.
We, and with we I mean “we” as in the human race, are pretty terrible at procreating if you compare us to most of the animal kingdom.
Conception is complicated. It depends on a LOT of different factors that we’ll talk about in some of the other articles.
A Look at the Numbers
I want to show you the chance of conception per cycle, by age. But keep in mind that these are just averages. Although they’re based on real life data, they’re still just averages, and it might be different for you!
Every month, you have between a 0% and 25% chance of getting pregnant. Now that range is huge and it mostly has to do with age.
At 22-years old, you’re at the peak of your fertility at 25%, while at 40 the odds drop to a 6.7% chance of conceiving. We all know that fertility drops as we age, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get pregnant. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll take much longer to do so either. In fact, someone who is 40 years old may even have a higher intrinsic fertility than what the averages tell us.
So while for many the averages can be a bit sobering, they do give us an idea of what to expect… but we all know that life is full of surprises.
Let me show you why you should be optimistic.
I’ve created a really cool calculator that you can play with that’ll show you the predicted chances of conceiving by your first month of trying, as well as after a full year of trying. Click here if you want to try it out yourself.
Let’s look at an example.
Remember how I said the odds of conceiving for a 40-year old are about 6.7% per cycle?
After a year of trying that means there are, on average, more 40-year olds who got pregnant than there are 40-year old who did NOT get pregnant! See below.
And if you’re 35 years old, the odds of getting pregnant after a year of trying -on average- is almost 90%!
Conceiving in Your 20’s vs (late) 30’s
But just because you are, say, in your early 20’s and your friend is in her late 30’s doesn’t mean YOU will conceive first!
The chances of you conceiving first are higher, but there are lots of other factors, like your personal fertility, your partners fertility, and the big one… just plain ol’ good or bad luck.
Let’s assume for a second that you somehow know that YOUR fertility is very high. In fact, let’s say it’s twice as high as the average 20-year-old. In this example, you’d have about a 50% chance of becoming pregnant, every single cycle! I know, it’s not a realistic scenario but I’m going somewhere with these percentages so hear me out.
Now let’s assume your 35-year-old friend has a more realistic 16.7% chance of conceiving each month.
So you have a 50% shot, your friend a 16.7% shot.
Or to put it differently; you have been given a coin to flip, while your friend was given a dice to roll. You have to correctly call heads or tails to get pregnant, and your friend has to roll a 6 to get pregnant.
While the overall chance of you getting pregnant sooner is much higher, that doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen.
So on your first cycle: you pick heads and the coin lands on tails, ahhh, you’re not pregnant.
On your friends first cycle: well whatayaknow, she rolls a 6 straight away and is pregnant!
It’s a silly example, but I want to stress that it’s important to remember that while these are averages, you can’t just apply them to yourself as there’s so much more involved.
But the good news is that if you follow along with the rest of these articles, together we can make sure you significantly boost your odds!
It’s Not as Bad as You Think
The fact remains that fertility declines with age. But it’s not nearly as bad as is generally portrayed. In fact, you’ve been living with a decline in fertility since pretty much forever. Here’s a graph that’ll help visualize things.
This graph shows the estimated number of eggs that you have left at any age. As you can tell, you peaked early! You and I, we don’t have nearly as many eggs as we had when we were born.
All those eggs, just gone even before hitting puberty! Without even having had the chance to have be ovulated. So egg-wise speaking, we’re ALL way past our prime fertility.
I want to reframe the way we think about the decline in eggs. Yes, we lost the majority of our eggs. But most women who have kids got pregnant in their 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s! It’s still very much possible to conceive. That’s something we shouldn’t lose sight of.
Besides, you only need that one good egg.
I want to show you one more graph, something that’s even more mind boggling. Starting at birth doesn’t even tell the whole story of our decline in fertility. It actually starts way before birth.
Look at that drop! By the time you’re born, you’ve already lost millions and millions of eggs.
When you were still a fetus you had about 6 to 7 million eggs inside those newly developed ovaries. So you start with 6 million but by the time you’re born, there are only about a million left.
Yes, this is an overly simplistic view as we haven’t yet talked about things like egg quality, but I hope that puts things in perspective. Anyone who has ever gotten pregnant already lost millions of eggs. And they STILL were able to get pregnant!
Remember, you only need that one good egg.
Most couples are able to conceive within a year, but just because you haven’t conceived so far, doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong. And just because you reached that 1 year-mark doesn’t mean that you’re not able to have kids. Some couples may need help in doing so, and some just need a little more time.
But one thing you can do right now is try to shift the odds in your favor!
And that’s what I hope to show in the TTC School article series and TTC School video course. Because I want you to become a fertility-ninja so that you won’t spend one more second worrying if you did everything you could to give yourself your very best shot. Because you KNOW you did!
The next article is all about the journey the egg makes to eventually become your baby!
Interested in TTC School?
Are you more of a visual learner? Skip the articles and dive right into all the course material in video format. With 60+ video lessons all about boosting your odds of getting pregnant, you’ll optimize your fertility in no time.
In a Rush? Try these first
Taking a daily prenatal multivitamin is by far the easiest way to boost your fertility (here’s why). Personally, I love the Smartypants prenatal gummy (it actually tastes good) and the Nature Made prenatal vitamin with DHA (that Omega-3 is really important!).