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How many tries does it take to conceive?

For couples trying to get pregnant, one of the most common questions is “how long will it take?” While there are no guarantees, research provides general timelines and statistics on conception based on various factors. Understanding average conception timelines can help set reasonable expectations. However, many nuances impact fertility, so couples should consult a doctor if challenges persist longer than expected.

What is the average time to conceive?

Research indicates that among couples having regular unprotected sex:

  • 20% conceive within 1 month
  • 70% conceive within 6 months
  • 85% conceive within 12 months
  • 90% conceive within 18 months

Therefore, it takes most couples 1-6 cycles or months to conceive, with 12 months being common and 18 months still within norms. However, studies find that 33% of couples conceive in the first month. While chances are lower in month 1, it is still possible to get pregnant quickly.

What impacts time to conceive?

Many factors impact fertility and conception speed for a couple:


Age impacts fertility rates and conception speed. According to research:

  • Women in their early 20s have a 50% chance of conceiving in the first month.
  • By age 30, the chance is 40% in month 1.
  • By age 35, only 30% conceive in the first month.
  • By 40, the rate is only 10% in the first month.

Therefore, younger couples tend to conceive faster on average. However, plenty of women over 35 conceive within 6 months.

For men, fertility also declines with age, with risks increasing after age 45-50. Older fathers also have higher risks of conceiving a child with autism or schizophrenia.

Reproductive health

Reproductive health for both partners impacts time to conceive. Conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, low sperm count, or irregular cycles can lengthen conception time. Unexplained infertility is also common. Doctors can assess reproductive health to identify or treat any issues.

Timing of intercourse

The timing of sexual intercourse related to ovulation impacts chances. Having well-timed intercourse in the ~5 days before and day of ovulation improves odds each cycle. However, even well-timed intercourse only yields a 15-25% chance per cycle. Tracking ovulation through menstrual cycles, symptoms, or tests improves timing.

Frequency of intercourse

Research shows that while daily sex can optimize chances, intercourse every 2-3 days retains high odds of conceiving. Less frequent sex significantly reduces monthly chances. However, extremes like compulsively timed intercourse can also hinder conception.


Stress can impact fertility by causing hormonal changes that disrupt menstrual cycles and ovulation. Managing life and relationship stress through relaxation, meditation, counseling, or support groups may optimize conception chances.

Previous pregnancies

Having previously been pregnant, even with a loss or termination, can improve chances of conceiving again compared to those trying for a first pregnancy. However, secondary infertility after having a child is still possible.

Environmental toxins

Toxins in foods, water, air, and products may reduce fertility by disrupting hormones and reproductive systems. Reducing chemical exposures may boost chances.

Medical conditions

Chronic medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune disorders, STDs, and many other issues can hamper fertility for one or both partners. Managing medical conditions improves odds.


Certain prescription drugs, supplements, and recreational drugs can impact fertility by throwing hormones off balance or damaging reproductive organs. Consulting doctors on medication risks may be warranted.

Lifestyle factors

Diet, exercise, weight, alcohol and caffeine intake, smoking, marijuana use, hot tub use, etc. can support or hamper fertility. Optimal lifestyle choices maximize conception odds.

When is it time to seek fertility help?

Doctors recommend consulting a fertility specialist if a couple under 35 fails to conceive after trying for 12 months with well-timed intercourse. For women over 35, it’s recommended to seek help after 6 months without conceiving.

However, anyone concerned about fertility or risk factors can seek earlier assessment. Common fertility treatments include:

  • Ovulation induction medications
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Surgery to correct structural issues

Fertility treatments can significantly improve the chances and speed of conception when needed.

Does conception speed mean anything about the pregnancy or baby?

Research finds no difference in pregnancy outcomes between couples that conceive quickly versus after many cycles. Mode of conception also does not seem to impact the baby’s health or development. Therefore, a couple’s conception timeline generally conveys no medical information about the resulting pregnancy or child.

Tips for coping with conception delays

Waiting to conceive month after month can become stressful and disheartening for couples. Ways to cope emotionally include:

  • Finding support groups of others trying to conceive
  • Talking to a mental health professional
  • Practicing relaxation techniques
  • Avoiding pregnancy announcements that bring up feelings of resentment or sadness
  • Focusing on all that’s good in life besides pregnancy
  • Bonding as a couple in non-reproductive ways
  • Considering ways to grow your family beyond pregnancy, like adoption
  • Having faith in your ability to get through challenges

While conception can take time, various paths to building a family exist. Maintaining self-care, support systems, and a hopeful yet realistic mindset helps couples stay resilient.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many times should you try to conceive before seeking help?

Doctors generally recommend seeking fertility testing and treatment if a couple under 35 cannot conceive after 1 year of well-timed intercourse. For women over 35, it’s recommended to seek help after 6 months without conceiving. Those concerned with fertility issues can seek testing sooner.

What are the chances of conceiving each cycle?

Each menstrual cycle, the average conception rate for couples with well-timed intercourse in the fertile window is:

  • Age 20-24: 29% per cycle
  • Age 30-34: 25% per cycle
  • Age 35-39: 13-18% per cycle

So in any given cycle, conception odds are in the 15-25% range typically.

How often should you have intercourse when trying to conceive?

Every 2-3 days is considered optimal, as this balances maximizing chances while ensuring sufficient sperm count. Daily intercourse may be excessive, while less than twice a week reduces odds significantly. But strict timing is less important than having intercourse in the ~5 fertile days before/of ovulation.

Do conception delays mean the pregnancy is high risk?

No, research indicates no difference in pregnancy risks or outcomes between those conceiving quickly versus after many cycles. A couple’s conception timeline does not seem to convey any medical information about the resulting pregnancy or child.

What lifestyle factors improve fertility?

Lifestyle habits that may boost fertility include:

  • Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet
  • Achieving a healthy BMI
  • Regular exercise but not over-exercising
  • Stress management
  • Moderate or no alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking and avoiding toxins
  • Limiting caffeine

Do fertility drugs or IVF increase the chances of multiples?

Yes, fertility treatments can increase the chances of conceiving twins, triplets or more. With IVF, multiple embryos are often transferred to improve success rates. However, a growing trend is single embryo transfer to minimize multiple risks. Discuss these options with your fertility doctor.

Statistics on Time to Conceive

Months of Unprotected Sex Cumulative Percentage Who Conceived
Month 1 33%
Month 3 60%
Month 6 80%
Month 9 88%
Month 12 92%

This table illustrates the cumulative percentages of couples that conceive over successive months of trying. While 33% conceive in month 1, over 3-6 months most couples conceive. By month 12, 92% have conceived.

Conception Probability by Cycle

Cycle 20-24 Years Old 27-29 Years Old 31-35 Years Old
Cycle 1 29% 27% 23%
Cycle 3 36% 33% 29%
Cycle 6 51% 47% 41%
Cycle 9 64% 60% 53%
Cycle 12 76% 72% 63%

This table displays probabilities of conceiving each cycle based on the woman’s age. Younger women have higher odds each cycle. By cycle 12, a 31-35 year old has a 63% chance of conceiving.

Takeaways on Conception Timeline

  • It takes most couples 1-6 months to conceive, while up to 12 months is common.
  • 33% conceive in the first month, while 80% conceive by month 6.
  • Factors like age, health, and lifestyle impact conception speed.
  • Those under 35 should seek help after 12 months of well-timed intercourse.
  • Staying hopeful yet realistic helps cope with conception delays.

While every couple’s journey is unique, understanding general timelines and probabilities can provide realistic benchmarks. Patience, support and medical guidance help navigate conception.


Based on research, it takes most healthy couples 1-6 cycles or months to conceive, with up to 12 months still within normal ranges. However, many factors from age to lifestyle impact odds each cycle and over time. While enduring delays can be frustrating, various supportive coping strategies can help couples stay resilient. Knowing average timelines provides realistic expectations, yet each couple’s conception journey is unique. Seeking medical guidance when challenges persist beyond norms often yields solutions. With patience and support, most couples can navigate the conception process successfully.