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Getting pregnant

When it comes to getting pregnant, couples may have lots of questions, including: How long will it take to get pregnant, when should we have sex, and how often should we have sex?

Get answers here:

The odds

It's a common question: what are the odds that I'll get pregnant this month? For most couples trying to conceive, the odds that a woman will become pregnant in any particular month are about 15% to 25%.

But there are some caveats, and different things can affect your chances of getting pregnant. They include:

  • Age. After you reach 30, your chances of conceiving in any given month diminish, and they fall further as you get older, dropping steeply in your 40s.
  • Irregular menstrual cycles. Having an irregular cycle makes it more difficult to work out when you're ovulating, which makes it hard to know the ideal time to have sex.
  • Frequency of sex. It may seem obvious, but the less often you have sex, the less likely you are to get pregnant.
  • Amount of time you've been trying to conceive. If you haven't become pregnant after one year of trying, your chances of becoming pregnant may be lower. Talk to your doctor about tests for female and male infertility.
  • Illnesses or medical conditions that can affect pregnancy.

Sorting out your cycle

Most women conceive faster if they understand their menstrual cycle. It's important to note that many women do not have regular cycles. Your cycle begins on the first day that you notice bright red blood, not just spotting, and it ends on the day before the next cycle begins. The length of a woman's cycle can vary from 21 to 35 days or more. If you notice that the length of your cycle varies by a few days from one month to the next, then your cycle is considered irregular.

Having sex

Here's another common question from couples trying to conceive: How often should we have sex? In short, the answer is often.

A lot of couples trying to conceive spend a lot of energy timing sex, with mathematical precision, to the woman's ovulation. Theoretically, the approach makes sense. Recent studies have shown the window of opportunity for a sperm to fertilise an egg is pretty small: essentially, it's only the four to five days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. Your best chances are on the day before and the day of ovulation. So the key would seem to be to have sex frequently in that five to six day period.

But while timing your lovemaking exclusively to those few days makes sense, it has some drawbacks, primarily because your body doesn't always behave like clockwork. Even if your cycle is regular, ovulation can occur at any time during the cycle. If you're having sex on the day you think you're ovulating, and you're out by a few days, you may be out of luck.

So the expert advice is to optimise your chances: have sex at least two to three times every week. And if you've got the stamina, why stop there? Studies have shown that as long as your partner has a normal sperm count, having sex every day of the month further increases your chances.

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