Chances Of Getting Pregnant

Your chances of conceiving: Low. Once the egg has been released, there is a short window of 12 to 24 hours during which it can be fertilized. After that, you will no longer be in your fertile window (unless you happen to release a second egg, which is relatively rare but possible). If you’re looking to avoid pregnancy, this is the phase during which people using fertility awareness methods commonly have sex freely, but keep in mind that there’s never a guarantee when it comes to avoiding pregnancy if a working ovary and sperm are involved.

Your Chances of Getting Pregnant, During Every Phase of Your Cycle

When sex coincides with your most fertile days, your chances of getting pregnant increase. Get to know each phase of your cycle to help you conceive (or avoid) a pregnancy.

Updated on December 21, 2022

Successfully conceiving the “old-fashioned” way means timing penis-in-vagina sex so sperm can reach an egg that is waiting to be fertilized. Your best bet at getting pregnant is timing sex to help sperm reach that egg at just the right moment. But once an egg has been released (which is known as ovulation), it lives for approximately 24 hours.

Knowing how many days before and after ovulation you can get pregnant is key. Sperm can live for up to five days in the female reproductive tract under the right conditions, which means that most people will have about six days in each cycle during which they can conceive—the five days before ovulation and one day after. Read on to learn more about your chances of getting pregnant throughout your menstrual cycle.

Your Chances of Getting Pregnant on Your Period

Menstruation is triggered after an egg has been released and has not been fertilized, occurring after ovulation somewhere between day 21 and 35 in most people who menstruate. (The first day of your period is considered day one of the cycle.)

During menstruation, the inner membrane of the uterus (known as the endometrium) is shed. By the third day of your cycle, levels of progesterone and estrogen are rising and working to rebuild your endometrium. Around day four, follicle ripening begins to increase as the ovaries start preparing an egg for release.

Most people will ovulate well after their period ends, somewhere around day 14 for the average 28-day cycle—though as we know, cycle length and ovulation can vary widely from person to person and even cycle to cycle. (You can track your ovulation each cycle by charting your basal body temperature or using an ovulation predictor kit.) Because an egg is needed in order for pregnancy to occur and it’s unlikely that an egg will be released during or soon after your period, there’s little chance that sperm introduced during your period will result in a pregnancy.

However, it is possible to get pregnant if you have sex near the very end of your period and you ovulate very soon after your period ends. Remember: Sperm can live up to five days, so if your period ends on day seven, for instance, and you go on to ovulate on day 10, it is possible to get pregnant from sex as early as day five of that cycle.

Your chances of conceiving: Very low. While it is technically possible to get pregnant if you ovulate early and have sex at the end of your period, most people will ovulate too late in their cycle to get pregnant on their period. Despite the low chances, if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, it’s still best to use contraception or abstain from penis-in-vagina sex during your period.

Your Chances of Getting Pregnant Right After Your Period

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ll want to start having sex after your period ends for optimal chances of conceiving, says Kelly Pagidas, M.D., a fertility specialist formerly with Women & Infants Center for Reproduction and Infertility in Providence, Rhode Island.

For most people, “I recommend having sex frequently—two to three times a week, but every other day if you can—shortly after you stop menstruating to cover your window of pre-ovulation,” she explains.

Here’s why: Sometime after your period ends, you may notice a change in vaginal discharge. This change doesn’t mean the egg has been released, but it does indicate that your body is preparing for ovulation by producing cervical mucus that offers a friendly environment for sperm. As you approach ovulation, cervical mucus will gradually change from more dry and sticky to pasty or creamy and finally to clear and stretchy, like the quality of raw egg whites. You may also notice an increase in the amount of discharge.

Remember, you can get pregnant right after your period, even if you’re not yet ovulating. That’s because sperm can live up to five days if it’s trapped in fertile cervical mucus—so introducing sperm in the days leading up to ovulation can increase your chances of conceiving. “One study showed that people who had sex only one time during this phase, even four to five days before ovulation, still got pregnant,” explains Steven R. Bayer, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Boston IVF fertility clinic in Boston.

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Your chances of conceiving: Low to medium. An egg isn’t technically released during this phase, but having sperm in place and sustained by fertile cervical mucus can be helpful in the event that you ovulate earlier than expected.

Woman Holding Pregnancy Test on Knees

Your Chances of Getting Pregnant During Ovulation

Welcome to prime time for conception! Just before and during ovulation is the best time to try to conceive because that’s when an egg is released and ready to be fertilized. After ovulation, you only have about one day for the egg to be fertilized, so if you’re trying to conceive, it’s ideal to have sex multiple times in the several days before, during, and just after ovulation.

Given the wide range of cycle lengths even for the same person cycle to cycle, knowing when you will ovulate isn’t as simple as looking at the calendar or counting cycle days. In fact, it can be near impossible to pinpoint exactly when ovulation occurs without an extremely well-timed ultrasound—and thankfully, that level of preciseness isn’t necessary to conceive. But there are some physical signs that your body gives to help you such as changes in cervical mucus and basal body temperature.

Your body temperature rises about half a degree (detected by a basal body thermometer) with ovulation, but bear in mind that this increase takes place after you’re already ovulating, which could be too late for conception.

“That’s where ovulation test kits become so helpful,” Dr. Bayer explains. These kits detect a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that happens about 36 hours before you ovulate. After the test kit shows a surge, Dr. Bayer recommends having sex in the next 24 to 36 hours. Since sperm can survive for several days in fertile cervical mucus, they will be ready to meet the egg once it’s released.

Another good indication of fertility is a change in the consistency of your cervical mucus. “You’ll see vaginal discharge that increases in amount and has the consistency of egg whites, signaling it’s the perfect time to have intercourse,” Dr. Bayer explains. You can test your own cervical mucus by sticking your index finger and thumb in your vagina to get a sample, then tapping your finger and thumb together. If the consistency is thin and stretches easily between two fingers, you’re good to go.

Your chances of conceiving: High, especially if you have sex within 36 hours of detecting an LH surge. A released egg will live anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, but don’t worry: Research shows that found that pregnancy can be achieved through having sex every one to two days leading up to ovulation, so no need to get busy every hour or even every day (unless you really want to, of course!).

Your Chances of Getting Pregnant After Ovulation

Also known as the luteal phase, this final portion of your cycle begins after ovulation and ends at the start of your next period. During this phase, progesterone starts to rise. Your cervical mucus will dry up, which makes the vaginal tract less friendly to sperm.

It takes about six days for any fertilized eggs to travel to your uterus. If one implants in your endometrium, you’ll start to see the rise in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the hormone measured by home pregnancy tests, about one week after implantation.

Your chances of conceiving: Low. Once the egg has been released, there is a short window of 12 to 24 hours during which it can be fertilized. After that, you will no longer be in your fertile window (unless you happen to release a second egg, which is relatively rare but possible). If you’re looking to avoid pregnancy, this is the phase during which people using fertility awareness methods commonly have sex freely, but keep in mind that there’s never a guarantee when it comes to avoiding pregnancy if a working ovary and sperm are involved.

Your Chances vs. Your Reality

For those trying to conceive, it’s important to understand that it can take time to get pregnant—even if you get the timing just right. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), menstruating individuals in their 20s and early 30s have a 20-30% chance of getting pregnant while trying during the average cycle. If you’re in your 40s, that number changes to one in 10.

Research indicates that most people aiming to get pregnant will successfully conceive within the first year of trying. However, many different factors are involved in getting pregnant, from age to medical conditions to fertility issues with either partner. If you have concerns, consult a health care provider or fertility specialist, who can talk to you about your individual situation and work on optimizing your chances of getting pregnant.

What are the chances of getting pregnant the first time trying?

Some people get pregnant within the first month, but this is not always the case. Getting pregnant can take up to a year or longer.

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Conception in the first month occurs for about 30% of people attempting pregnancy.

Successful conception rates tend to decrease steadily after the first month of actively trying to conceive. However, many healthy people without fertility issues could expect to become pregnant by the end of the first year.

This article examines how long it may take to become pregnant. We also look at what may affect fertility, as well as available fertility treatments.

Person checks a pregnancy test.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , the vast majority of people trying to conceive will become pregnant within the first year. They also define infertility depending on the age of the person:

  • In people younger than 35 years, infertility is not becoming pregnant after 1 year of unprotected sex.
  • In people 35 years and older, infertility is not conceiving after 6 months of unprotected sex.

According to infertility research, the likelihood of getting pregnant in the first month is around 30% . For people without fertility issues, the approximate chances of conception are:

  • 75% after 6 months
  • 90% after a year
  • 95% at 2 years

The time it takes to conceive varies between people. For some, conception occurs in the first couple of months of unprotected sex. Others may have trouble getting pregnant and need help from a healthcare professional.

Approximately 1 in 8 people aged 15–44 years have difficulties trying to conceive or carrying a pregnancy to their due date. People who are not pregnant within 1 year should talk to their doctor for advice.

There are several reasons that people may find conception difficult, such as:

  • an issue with sperm health
  • problems with ovulation
  • their age
  • abnormalities in uterus shape
  • a blockage of one or both fallopian tubes
  • stress
  • unexplained infertility

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine add that egg quality and quantity can also affect fertility and the likelihood that someone will conceive.

People can take steps to increase their chances of getting pregnant, including:

  • maintaining a moderate weight, including not being underweight
  • eating a healthful diet
  • taking prenatal vitamins to help with fetal development
  • tracking periods and ovulation
  • getting tested for sexually transmitted infections, which can cause reduced fertility
  • getting a Pap smear
  • quitting smoking tobacco or marijuana
  • talking with a doctor about medication side effects that may affect sperm count or quality
  • avoiding heat and toxic chemicals, which can cause issues with sperm
  • having sexual intercourse at the right time of the month, starting around day 10 of the egg cycle and then every other day up until ovulation

People with regular menstrual cycles are more likely to get pregnant than those with irregular menstrual cycles. This is because people with irregular periods may not ovulate regularly. During irregular cycles, ovulation could occur any time between 9–21 days into the ovulation cycle.

People usually see a doctor after 1 year of attempting to get pregnant. They can also see a healthcare professional earlier if they have concerns about their fertility.

There are several fertility treatments a person can discuss with their doctor. Before starting treatment, people will usually undergo tests and assessments, including:

  • an overall health assessment
  • hormonal balance test
  • ovarian function test
  • thyroid function test
  • prolactin level test
  • testing for metabolic conditions
  • an examination of the uterus and fallopian tubes
  • anti-müllerian hormone test

Treating any abnormalities can help improve a person’s fertility.

A doctor may also recommend having sperm analysis. Analyzing sperm can help determine if conception issues are due to sperm count or quality.

Low-cost fertility treatments may include:

  • losing or gaining weight
  • ovulation induction (OI), a medication that induces the release of an egg
  • intrauterine insemination, which can take place alongside OI
  • superovulation treatment, which stimulates the release of two to four eggs

Other fertility treatments doctors may discuss include:

  • in vitro fertilization
  • controlled ovarian hyperstimulation
  • surgical correction of any problems with reproductive organs

People should talk to their doctor if they have trouble conceiving:

  • after 1 year for people under 35 years
  • after 6 months for people 35 years and older

A person may consider talking to their doctor sooner if they follow the relevant recommendations but still have difficulties conceiving.

A healthcare professional can help determine if any biological issues could be causing a fertility problem. They can recommend treatments to correct certain underlying health conditions that may be causing low fertility. They can also discuss and recommend fertility treatments.

Every person will have a different experience when trying to conceive. Some will get pregnant quickly, while others may conceive within a year or struggle with conception.

People struggling to conceive should talk to their doctor about their concerns. A healthcare professional could recommend solutions to fertility issues.

For some individuals, getting pregnant in the first month of trying is possible. Many people will conceive within the first year of having unprotected sex.

A person can increase their chance of pregnancy by tracking their ovulation cycle and maintaining a healthful weight and lifestyle.

If someone has trouble conceiving, they should talk to their doctor about possible causes and treatments.

Last medically reviewed on November 11, 2020

  • Fertility
  • Pregnancy / Obstetrics
  • Women’s Health / Gynecology
  • Parenthood

How we reviewed this article:

Medical News Today has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations. We avoid using tertiary references. We link primary sources — including studies, scientific references, and statistics — within each article and also list them in the resources section at the bottom of our articles. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Age and fertility (booklet). (n.d.).
  • Do you know what your chances of getting pregnant really are? (n.d).
  • How couples can increase their chances of becoming pregnant. (n.d.).
  • Infertility does not always mean IVF: Low cost treatment options. (n.d.).
  • Infertility FAQs. (2019).
  • Taylor, A. (2003). Extent of the problem.
  • Thinking about fertility treatment. (2020).
  • What is infertility? (2020).

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population []; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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