How Long Does it Typically Take to Get Pregnant?by Melissa Luznicky Garrett
If the time is right to have a baby, you might be wondering just how long you'll have to wait before seeing those two pink lines appear on a home pregnancy test. Although how quickly conception happens is different for everyone, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports the average wait is six months. Because many factors, such as age and health, determine conception, your chances of getting pregnant each month is approximately 25 percent.
Planning For Pregnancy
The early weeks of pregnancy are especially critical to your baby's neural growth and organ development, so it's important to be as healthy as possible before you conceive. Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss any underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, which could complicate a pregnancy. Your provider will perform a physical exam and discuss with you any over-the-counter or prescription medications you're taking, as well as your medical history. Now is the time to stop drinking and smoking, and adopt healthier eating and lifestyle habits.
Stopping Birth Control
One of the first steps to getting pregnant is to stop using birth control. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, some birth control methods can impact fertility even after you stop using them. For example, it can take up to three months for your menstrual cycle to regulate after stopping oral contraceptives. Likewise, some hormonal implants and injections could delay getting pregnant up to three months. If you're still in the pregnancy planning stage and don't want to get pregnant right away, use a condom, diaphragm or spermicide as your method of contraception. While these barrier methods prevent pregnancy, they have no impact on fertility.
Charting Your Cycle
Your most fertile days each month occur midway between the start of one period and the next. As a result, charting your menstrual cycle is an effective way to determine the most probable time for conception to occur. The average cycle lasts 28 days, although cycles ranging from 23 to 35 days are normal. The opportunity for conception each month is a 12- to 24-hour period. When you chart your cycle, you'll begin to see a pattern in ovulation, which could help speed up the time it takes you to conceive. Because a man's sperm can live for 72 hours inside a woman's cervix, the March of Dimes reports the best time to get pregnant are the two days directly preceding ovulation or the actual day of ovulation. You can also look for signs and symptoms of ovulation. These include cramps, tender breasts, an increase in vaginal discharge and an increased desire for sex.
If you can't get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex, talk to your healthcare provider about undergoing a fertility check-up. She will look for physical causes of infertility, such as problems with the reproductive organs. She may also look at pregnancy hormone levels or conduct a semen analysis on your partner to check the count, formation and mobility of his sperm.
Some couples believe that having sex on a daily basis decreases the quality or number of a man's sperm. The truth is the testes replenish sperm frequently. As long as a man's sperm count is a normal 20 million to 250 million sperm per milliliter, and there are no abnormalities in the sperm themselves, frequent sex won't hinder your ability to conceive.
- Waiting image by Kristin Skipper from Fotolia.com