Trying to Get Pregnant – When Should You Seek Medical Advice?

April 14, 2017

by Dr. Rob Downer, Clinical Embryologist

I’ve been asked this question many times in email queries to the clinic. It’s not something that we generally discuss with friends or family who already have children. I can never recall a dinner conversion with friends around this topic and it’s amazing that the facts are not common knowledge.

So, what are the facts? How long does it usually take to get pregnant and when should you seek advice?

It’s important to consider these questions in the context of number of attempts to get pregnant rather than in the context of time. We all have busy schedules and, even with the best will in the world, we can miss the fertile window of ovulation in a given month. In a study of 346 women who were actively trying to get pregnant, it was found that:

  • 38% conceived on the first attempt
  • 68% had conceived after 3 attempts
  • 81% had conceived after 6 attempts
  • 92% had conceived after 12 attempts

This study concluded that the majority of couples will conceive within 6 attempts of correctly timed intercourse, but it may take up to 12 attempts to conceive. These results align with the guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), who advise that couples should seek medical advice if they fail to conceive after 12 attempts.

It’s generally accepted that this advice holds true in cases where the female in the couple is under 35 years of age. However, in cases where the female of the couple is aged 35 years or older it is recommended to seek advice if they have failed to conceive after just 6 attempts.

While it may seem counter-intuitive to seek advice sooner when over the age of 35, it is well known fact that female fertility begins to decline from this age and the sooner medical advice is sought the more likely the couple are to be successful.

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