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Chances of getting pregnant

Couples planning a pregnancy may have lots of questions, including:

  • What are our odds of getting pregnant?
  • When should we have sex?
  • How do I know when I’m ovulating?
  • How often should we have sex?
  • How long will it take to get pregnant?
  • How do I increase my odds of getting pregnant?

What are my odds of getting pregnant?

The good news is that the UK has one of the highest fertility rates in Europe. On average, British women have about 2 children each. Most women get pregnant between the ages of 30-34, but recent trends have seen more women in their late thirties getting pregnant. Plus, the number of pregnant women over 40 has almost doubled since 1990. On the other hand, the number of pregnancies under the age of 18 has more than halved in the last five decades. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) has also increased significantly in the UK in recent years.

Individually, your chances of getting pregnant are about 20% in any given month.

Research suggests that out of 100 couples having regular, unprotected sex:

  • 20 get pregnant within a month
  • 70 get pregnant within 6 months
  • 85 get pregnant within a year
  • 90 get pregnant within 18 months
  • 95 get pregnant in 2 years

Statistically, the average rate for getting pregnant in England and Wales is 77.8 conceptions per thousand women. Nearly 80% of those conceptions result in having a baby.

Geography also seems to play a part. Statistics show you’re somewhat less likely to conceive if you live in the northeast, where the conception rate is just over 70 per thousand women. You have the highest chance of getting pregnant in London where the rate is about 85 per thousand.

When should we have sex?

Generally, you’re most likely to conceive around 14 days before the start of your menstrual period. That’s when an egg is usually released from your ovaries and ovulation takes place. The egg travels along the fallopian tubes and lives for about 12 - 24 hours. So, your best chance of getting pregnant is by having sex a day or so after ovulation. Bear in mind, that everyone is different. Being fertile at day 14 may apply to women with 28-day menstrual cycles, but women with shorter of longer cycles may be fertile at different times.

How do I know I’m ovulating?

It’s not easy to establish exactly when you have ovulated in order to plan sex at the best possible time. However, there are clues that indicate your body is ovulating, which you can learn to recognise. This is known as natural family planning and involves monitoring indicators like:

  • The length of your menstrual cycle
  • Cervical mucus secretions
  • Body temperature.

Your cycle

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