How Quickly Can You Expect to Get Pregnant?

How Many Get Pregnant After One Month, Three Months, Six Months, or a Year

Feet of couple in bed hoping to get pregnant quickly
Just how quickly can you get pregnant? It may take longer than you expected... Paul Jaris/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Just how quickly can you get pregnant? While some couples may conceive the very first month they try, most will get pregnant after three to six months. Others will need to try for up to a year.

What Are Your Odds of Getting Pregnant Right Away?

Researchers in Germany wondered how quickly couples can expect to get pregnant. They were especially interested in how common infertility and subfertility are.

Subfertility can be loosely defined as someone who takes longer than average to get pregnant, but eventually will succeed on their own without help.

The researchers felt that previous research on how soon couples can expect to get pregnant eliminated truly infertile couples.

Also, previous studies were biased because of their retrospective nature. In other words, the statistics were gathered after pregnancy was achieved and not collected from the beginning. What about all the couples who never conceived?

In this study, a group of 346 women were practicing natural family planning methods to get pregnant. Natural family planning includes things like body basal temperature charting and cervical mucus observation. They use these tools to determine when their most fertile days are.

This group of couples knew which days to have sex if they wanted to get pregnant, so mistimed intercourse would not be behind failure to conceive.

The results are interesting:

  • Of the 346 women, 310 women conceived
  • The remaining 10.4 percent, or 36 women, did not get pregnant
  • After one month of trying, 38 percent were pregnant
  • After three months of trying, 68 percent were pregnant
  • After six months of trying, 81 percent were pregnant
  • After twelve months of trying, 92 percent were pregnant

    If you looked at only the couples that got pregnant eventually and eliminated the women who didn't conceive...

    • 42 percent conceived in their first month of trying
    • 75 percent by their third month
    • 88 percent by six months
    • 98 percent by 12 months

    What About Couples Who Don't Get Pregnant After One Year?

    What about those who don't get pregnant after one year?

    If you're not pregnant after one year of trying—or after six months if you're 35 years or older—then you should see your doctor. 

    While 10 percent of couples may not get pregnant after 12 months of trying, half of this group will get pregnant after 36 months of trying.

    About 5 percent of couples will try for four years and still not get pregnant. This group of couples was unlikely to ever get pregnant without medical help.

    How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant After Sexual Intercourse?

    This is a slightly different question but one that many people wonder about! Let's say you do get pregnant in a given month. How long after you had sex do you get pregnant?

    First, you need to keep in mind that fertilization of the egg isn't pregnancy. Not yet. Any couple that has gone through IVF treatment and had an embryo transfer that "didn't stick" can tell you this.

    For pregnancy to happen, an embryo needs to implant itself into the endometrial lining.

    Second, you need to know that sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for up to five to six days. This means if you have sex on Monday, but ovulation doesn't occur until Friday, fertilization of the egg can only occur four days after you had sex.

    However, if you had sex on Friday, and Friday is the day you ovulate, fertilization may happen within an hour. Or, it may take up to 12 hours. (You're most likely to get pregnant if you have sex the day before ovulation.) 

    Once fertilization has occurred, how long before the now embryo implants itself into the uterine lining?

    This takes on average between 7 and 10 days but could occur as early as 5 days after ovulation.

    Taking all this into account, this means you can be pregnant as soon as 5 days after you had sex or as many as 16 days!

    Sometimes, women will wonder if they already are having pregnancy symptoms the day after they have unprotected sexual intercourse. They may "feel pregnant," but those feelings are not related to any possible fertilization or pregnancy. You won't have actual pregnancy signs or symptoms until implantation occurs, which means at least several days after having sex.

    A Word From Verywell

    If you've been trying for less than six months, don't fret just yet. Keep trying. If you're older than 35, and you've been trying for six months, see a doctor.

    Since age can be a factor, it's important you don't wait. You may still conceive on your own! However, it's best to get checked out. Make sure everything is okay.

    What if you're younger than 35, have been trying for six months, and don't want to wait until one year passes? Some doctors won't do fertility testing until a year goes by for women younger than age 35.

    However, if you have timed intercourse each of those six months, you may be able to convince your doctor to investigate sooner. One way to show this is with a fertility calendar

    If you've been trying for a year and you're not yet pregnant, you should definitely see a doctor. If you've been trying for two, three or four years, what are you waiting for?

    Some couples hold out hope, not wanting to face the music. This is completely understandable. But keep in mind, the passage of time could lower the chances of fertility treatments working. It's better to seek help sooner.

    Sources:

    Gnoth C, Godehardt D, Godehardt E, Frank-Herrmann P, Freundl G. "Time to pregnancy: results of the German prospective study and impact on the management of infertility." Human Reproduction. 2003 Sep; 18(9):1959-66.

    Gnoth C, Godehardt E, Frank-Herrmann P, Friol K, Tigges J, Freundl G. "Definition and prevalence of subfertility and infertility." Human Reproduction. 2005 May; 20(5):1144-7. Epub 2005 Mar 31.

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