While it would be nice if those who wanted to get pregnant did and those who didn’t didn’t, it doesn’t always work that way.
Sometimes, the reality is that the more you want a baby of your own, the more you see negative pregnancy test results and other women with belly bumps.
Whether you’re feeling jealous or grateful that it isn’t you just yet, family planning can be an emotionally charged process.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant (or trying to avoid making that happen!), we’ve got statistics, tips, and much more to help your vision become a reality.
Everyone’s journey through pregnancy will look slightly different. A number of factors can affect whether you’re able to conceive and how easily it happens for you.
In general, your chances of conception are:
75 percentafter 6 months of trying
- 90 percent after 1 year of trying
- 95 percent at 2 years of trying
But those numbers don’t tell a complete story. Many factors influence your unique chances of conception, including age, health, and any conditions you or your partner may have.
The truth is, even if it seems like everything should be lined up for success, there’s always a bit of chance involved!
We know that sex can result in pregnancy, but people often spend less time thinking about all the steps that must happen from intercourse through pregnancy to birth:
- Intercourse or insemination needs to be timed with ovulation.
- The egg needs to be fertilized by a sperm, and both should be in good genetic condition.
- The fertilized egg, or embryo, needs to properly implant in such a way that a baby can grow to the appropriate size and weight.
- Everything needs to continue progressing as the fetus develops inside the mother for 38 to 41 weeks.
- There needs to be a healthy delivery.
Does this make it seem nearly impossible to have a healthy baby? Well, you might be relieved to know that in 2018, nearly
So, what other factors are known to affect your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy?
Once a woman has begun ovulating (typically during her teen years) and her menstrual cycle begins to follow a predictable pattern, the chances of getting pregnant are quite high.
Women in their early 20s to early 30s have a one in four chance of becoming pregnant each month. However, the likelihood of becoming pregnant decreases as women continue to age past 30.
In fact, women have only a 1 in 10 chance of becoming pregnant each month by the time they’re 40. By the time a woman is 45, her likelihood of getting pregnant without medical intervention is highly unlikely.
What about the other half of the pregnancy equation? Well, a man’s fertility will also decrease with age, but the decrease isn’t as predictable as in women.
Men can produce sperm throughout their lifetime, but eventually the quality will begin to deteriorate.
In general, sperm quality isn’t a problem for most men until their 60s, and even then, there’s plenty of evidence of men in their 60s and 70s fathering children with younger partners.
Sperm doesn’t deteriorate in the same manner as eggs, so many men may not experience much change.
Some of the biggest concerns around older men fathering children is an increased likelihood of genetic defects in the sperm. Older men may also experience issues with libido or ejaculating, though this can also happen to younger men.
No matter what his age, if a man is having trouble with his libido or ejaculating, he should consult his doctor for medical advice and recommendations.
If you’re hoping to conceive, having a regular period and maintaining good health can make the process much easier. If you don’t have a regular monthly period, you should see your OB-GYN.
Eating mindfully, exercising, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to get your body in the proper alignment.
Additionally, regular exercise and healthy eating in preparation for pregnancy and throughout the pregnancy can lead to better birth outcomes.
Conditions that affect fertility
Certain health conditions can play a large role in fertility.
And these aren’t the only conditions affecting fertility. Other common challenges include:
- blocked fallopian tubes
- hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or other endocrine conditions
- uterine fibroids
- low sperm count
While it may require beating greater odds if you hope to become pregnant with certain medical conditions, it’s not impossible. You should speak to your doctorabout a plan of action to improve your chances of getting pregnant and delivering safely.
Use of birth control
Of course, you’ve heard the only entirely effective way to ensure that you don’t get pregnant is to avoid having penetrative vaginal sex with a partner with a penis.
But if you’re trying not to get pregnant, there are a variety of birth control measures you can take with varying effectiveness and permanency. It’s important to follow directions for whatever form of birth control you choose if you want it to be as effective as possible.
If you’re ready to take a break from birth control because you want to have a baby, your chance of getting pregnant right away will vary based on the type of birth control you were on.
Some methods, such as the pull out method or rhythm method, will leave you with a normal likelihood of pregnancy immediately after you stop using it. Hormonal options like the birth control pill may take time to leave your system.
Other methods, such as a vasectomy or tubal litigation, may have a long-term impact on your ability to become pregnant that’s never fully reversible. If this is the case for you, consult your doctor to discuss your options, which may include assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
If you’d like to become pregnant, there are many things you can do to optimize your chances:
- Track your menstrual cycles and ovulation windows. For most people, the first step to becoming pregnant is having sex when you’re ovulating. It makes sense to have an understanding of your menstrual cycle and ovulation windows to make sure you’ll fertilize an egg. This information can also be useful if you’re trying to avoid becoming pregnant without using physical forms of birth control.
- Use ovulation strips. While ovulation strips can’t guarantee your pregnancy, they can help to determine your peak fertility periods. If you decide to use ovulation strips, you’ll probably want to do this in combination with tracking your menstrual cycle, so that you don’t need to use as many testing strips.
- Adjust your diet. Believe it or not, just changing your diet has been tied to increasing your chances of conceiving. While it may not be fun to consider giving up some of your favorite foods, the joy of a baby might just make it worth it.
- Maintain a healthy weight. This can be especially important if you’re dealing with PCOS. A
2015 studyfound that weight loss helped those with PCOS to restore regular ovulation, a key part of conception.
- See a fertility specialist. If you’ve been trying to conceive for more than 6 months without success and are in your 20s to 30s, it might be time to speak with your doctor. If you’re above 40 and hoping to conceive, you’ll probably want to meet with your doctor to discuss your fertility before attempting to get pregnant. Fertility specialists can perform a variety to tests to determine if there are any roadblocks preventing you from becoming pregnant. They can refer you to other specialists if needed.
The process of becoming pregnant is often an emotional journey. It can be hard to learn that your friend is pregnant if you’re struggling to grow your family. Likewise, if you find yourself pregnant when you weren’t expecting it, there can be a roller coaster of emotions as you process that life-changing news.
There are so many unique variables impacting your chance of becoming pregnant that it’s nearly impossible to predict when the test results will come back positive (unless you’ve enlisted some medical assistance)!
If you’re hoping to have a baby, just remember that every few weeks you’ll have another chance, and there are professionals and support groups able to help.