You’ve put away the birth control and you’re now waiting for that positive pregnancy test. But how long does it take to get pregnant?
This simple question can very difficult to answer because many factors come into play before a pregnancy becomes reality. Even small things can affect the time it takes before the pregnancy test shows up positive.
First of all, I want to explain how a woman’s cycle and fertility function in general, outlining what things need to be in place before she can get pregnant.
Both the man’s and the woman’s fertility are important
When it comes to getting pregnant, it’s not just woman’s fertility that plays a role. The man’s fertility is at least as important, since he contributes half the material to the future baby.
No matter how fertile a woman may be, if the man has reduced sperm quality, the likelihood of the woman getting pregnant is small. The same goes for when a man’s fertility is normal, but the woman’s is reduced. The man’s sperm quality may be good enough, but a pregnancy will only happen if the woman’s fertility allows for it. If, for example, she has blocked fallopian tubes, there will be no pregnancy without medical intervention.
It is important that both the man and the woman’s fertility are at a functional level. This means that, if fertility treatment is needed, both parties need to be investigated.
What does a woman’s menstrual cycle mean for her fertility?
A well-functioning menstrual cycle is a crucial factor if a woman is to get pregnant naturally. If you do not have menstrual periods, there is a high probability that you also do not ovulate. If you are not ovulating, you cannot conceive without intervention.
The role of age in relation to female fertility
In principle, a woman can become pregnant regardless of her age, as long as she is still ovulating. With the help of medical science, women can become pregnant even after menopause.
The world’s oldest mother, it is claimed, is a woman from India who at the age of 72 gave birth to her first child by Caesarean section. There are many other stories about women who became pregnant and raised children while they were well into their sixties.
These women who become pregnant after menopause have all been helped to achieve pregnancy through a number of interventions, including egg donation: i.e. getting an egg from another woman.
Even before she is born, a baby girl carries within her all the eggs she will ever produce. This stock of eggs, stored in her ovaries, is called her ovarian reserve. These are the eggs the woman has at her disposal throughout the fertile period of her life, from her first menstrual period until menopause.
The unborn girl has approximately 2-5 million eggs. This sounds like a lot, but the egg reserve is constantly shrinking. By the time the baby girl is born, about half of the eggs have degraded in quality and will not be released during ovulation. By the time puberty comes, bringing with it the possibility of becoming pregnant, a girl might have just under half a million eggs left. At each ovulation, the body starts to mature a crop of 4-6 eggs. Typically, only one of these eggs reaches full maturity, and the extra ones disintegrate.
In the course of her fertile years, a woman may ovulate 400-500 times. The rest of the 2-5 million eggs are lost. After menopause, there are no more eggs left, so you cannot get pregnant unless you get eggs from another woman. These eggs will be fertilised outside your body and then be put into your uterus.
But how long does it take to get pregnant?
Now that you know the basic factors that help determine a woman’s fertility, we can move on to discussing how long it statistically takes to get pregnant.
In order for a woman to fall pregnant naturally, a number of things must be in order:
- The woman’s hormone balance should be normal
- The man should have good sperm quality
- The woman should ovulate
- Eggs released during ovulation should be of good quality
- The woman should have intercourse before she ovulates and before the egg passes into the uterus.
The statistical chances of getting pregnant are:
A woman’s chances of getting pregnant are highly dependent on her age. If you have unprotected sex twice a week, what is the likelihood of you getting pregnant?
20 years: 34%
25 years: 24%
30 years: 17%
35 years: 12%
40 years: 6%
45 years: 0.5%
The two days before and the day of ovulation are the best days to conceive.
There are, of course, other factors that matter besides your age. But when discussing women’s fertility, age is one of the most important factors. It is, therefore, important to keep this in mind when considering how long you want to wait before trying to get pregnant.
80% of all couples trying to achieve pregnancy succeed within the first 12 months after starting to try. So there are good chances of getting pregnant if you want to. However, it’s understandable that when you’re waiting for those two lines to appear on a pregnancy test, 12 months can seem like a very long time to wait.