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How long does it take to conceive?
Q: I've been using birth control for many years. My husband and I are ready to start a family. How long should it take to get pregnant?
A: This depends on a number of factors including your age, overall health and reproductive history as well as the frequency of your sexual relations.

On average, healthy couples will have a 15 to 25 percent chance of conceiving within the first month of trying. Within six months, about 60 percent of couples will be pregnant. After one year, 80 percent will be.

However, these numbers are slightly different if we examine conception by age groups. We know that fertility declines as a woman ages. Women between 20 and 25 may have an 86 percent chance of becoming pregnant over the course of one year. Women 30 to 34 may have a 63 percent likelihood in the same time frame. And women between 40 and 44 may only have a 36 percent chance of conceiving within a year.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that one-third of women aged 35 to 39 have fertility problems, while two-thirds of women over 40 have problems with fertility. For this reason, I advise older patients who have the flexibility to try to get pregnant sooner rather than later. If any problems arise with conception, there will be a larger window of time to get help.

Another factor I mentioned was frequency of sexual relations. A recent study at the National Institute of Environmental Health reported that couples with daily intercourse during their fertile period had a 25 percent chance of conceiving in a given cycle. In contrast, couples engaging in intercourse once a week only had a 10 percent chance of conceiving within a cycle.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist