The average time it takes for a couple to conceive a child is between six months and a year. It is recommended that you talk to a fertility specialist if you have been trying to conceive for an entire year but have not been successful. Sometimes, there is a clear reason why a couple is unable to have children, such as a physical issue with either the ovaries, the uterus, or the testicles.
Women have the best odds of getting pregnant in their 20s. That’s when you have the largest number of healthy eggs.
Fertility naturally declines with age. The older you are, the longer it might take you to conceive.
Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have. As you get older, your egg supply diminishes. And the ones that remain aren’t as healthy.
By age 35, you have only a 12 percent chance of getting pregnant within any given three-month period, according to a study in PLoS OneTrusted Source. By age 40, that number drops to 7 percentTrusted Source.
A man’s fertility also declines with age. An older man’s sperm is also more likely to have genetic abnormalitiesTrusted Source.
According to RESOLVE, 1 out of every 8 couples, or 12 percent of women, have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.
When should you see a doctor about infertility?
- if you’re 35 or younger and you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year
- if you’re over age 35 and you’ve been trying for more than 6 months
If you know you have a health condition that affects your fertility, see your doctor sooner.
Female infertility is a factor for about one-third of couples who are trying to conceive.
The most common cause is a problem with ovulation. If you don’t ovulate, you won’t release an egg to be fertilized.
Ovulation problems can be caused by:
- polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- premature ovarian insufficiency (POI)
Blocked fallopian tubes prevent the egg from meeting the sperm. Possible causes of a blockage include:
A problem with the uterus can also make it harder to get pregnant. This may be due to an abnormal structure, or due to growths like fibroids.
Male infertility is a factor for about 8 percent of couples who are trying to conceive.
Causes of male infertility include:
- enlarged veins on the testicles, called varicocele
- abnormally shaped sperm
- injury to the testes that reduces sperm production
- heavy drinking, smoking, or drug use
- chemotherapy or radiation to treat cancer
- problems with the glands that produce the hormones needed to make sperm
- more rarely, genetic disorders such as Klinefelter syndrome
In about 5 to 10 percent of couples, the cause of infertility is unexplained. It may be caused by problems with egg or sperm quality or a physical issue, but the doctor hasn’t been able to diagnose a clear reason.
Fertility specialists offer a variety of treatments, and sometimes more than one treatment is combined.
Which method your doctor recommends depends on factors like your age, health, and what caused your fertility problem.
A few drugs are commonly used to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to release an egg:
- clomiphene citrate (Clomid)
- follicle-stimulating hormone (Follistim, Gonal-F)
- letrozole (Femara)
- human menopausal gonadotropin (Menopur, Pergonal, Repronex)
- metformin (Glucophage)
- bromocriptine (Parlodel)
One thing to know about these medications is that they can increase your riskTrusted Source of giving birth to twins or other multiples.
Medications can also help men with infertility by increasing their sperm count.
Surgery is a treatment for both male and female infertility. In men, surgical procedures can clear up a sperm blockage, fix a varicocele, or retrieve semen from a man’s reproductive tract.
In women, surgery can be done to fix physical problems with the ovaries or uterus.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
This method is also called artificial insemination. The man produces a sperm sample that is then injected through a catheter into the woman’s uterus right around the time when she is ovulating. She may get medicine beforehand to help her ovulate.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) combines the sperm and eggs outside the body, and then places the embryos into the uterus. The main type of ART is in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Before IVF, the woman will get a series of injections to help her ovaries produce a lot of eggs. Once those eggs are mature, they’ll be removed using a simple surgical procedure.
The eggs are fertilized with her partner’s sperm. Fertilized eggs, known as embryos, are grown in the lab for a few days. One or two good quality embryos are then transferred into the uterus.
Other ARTs are:
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). One healthy sperm is injected into an egg.
- Assisted hatching. The embryo cover is opened to help it implant more easily in the uterus.
- Donor eggs or sperm. If there’s a problem with the eggs or sperm, you can get either one from a healthy donor.
- Gestational carrier. Another woman carries your baby to term for you.
Pregnancy isn’t always the journey you expected. Sometimes it takes longer than you’d hoped to get pregnant, especially if age or physical issues are factors.
If you’ve been trying for a while with no success, see an infertility specialist for help. Or turn to an organization like RESOLVE for advice.
Last medically reviewed on September 20, 2018
Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — Written by Stephanie Watson on September 20, 2018
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How Long Does It Take for Sperm to Regenerate? What to Expect
- Sperm production rate
- Sperm production cycle
- What this means for you
- 6 Tips for healthy sperm
- 5 Tips for conception
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You produce sperm every day, but a full sperm regeneration cycle (spermatogenesis) takes about 64 days.
Spermatogenesis is the complete cycle of sperm production and maturation. It constantly supplies your body with sperm able to travel through the vagina to an unfertilized ovum in a woman’s ovaries to conceive.
Read on to learn more about how often your body replenishes your sperm, what happens in your body to make sperm production possible, how you can help keep your sperm healthy, and more.
Your testicles are constantly producing new sperm in spermatogenesis. The full process takes about 64 days.
This may seem like overkill, but you release anywhere from 20 to 300 million sperm cells in a single milliliter of semen. Your body maintains a surplus to ensure there’s a fresh supply for conception.
The sperm regeneration cycle includes:
1. The division of diploid sperm cells into haploid spermatids that can carry genetic data.
2. The maturation of sperm in your testicles, specifically in the seminiferous tubules. Hormones help spermatids through this process until they become spermatozoa. Sperm then remain in the testicles until they’re almost mature.
A mature sperm has a head containing genetic material and a tail to help the sperm travel through the female body for fertilization.
3. The movement of sperm into the epididymis, a tube connected to your testicles that stores sperm. The epididymis preserves sperm until ejaculation. This is also where sperm gain motility, or the ability to move. This enables them to travel when released in seminal fluid (semen) during ejaculation.
Fertilization is most likely when you haven’t ejaculated in a while. Constant sperm regeneration fills the epididymis with fresh sperm. The longer they build up, the higher your sperm count in a single ejaculation.
If you and your partner are trying to conceive, waiting a few days between ejaculations can increase your chances of conception.
You can further increase your chances by abstaining from ejaculation the week before your partner ovulates. This will maximize your sperm count during your partner’s most fertile window.
On the other hand, more frequent ejaculations can lower your sperm count in a single ejaculation. This can help you avoid getting your partner pregnant, especially if you abstain from sex until after ovulation ends.
The healthier your sperm are, the more likely you are to be fertile and conceive.
Aside from quantity, or how many of them you produce, sperm health is measured by:
- Sperm movement (motility).Sperm need to travel through a woman’s cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes before they get to the ovum for fertilization. Motility is measured by how many sperm are moving — if you’re fertile, at least 40 percent of your sperm are motile.
- Sperm shape (morphology). Spermshould have long tails and oval-shaped heads. A higher count of normal-shaped sperm means a higher chance of conceiving with your partner.
Try the following to help make sure that your sperm are being produced in high enough quantities, as well as with high motility and regular shapes:
- Exercise regularly. Researchers in one 2014 studyTrusted Source analyzed 433 semen samples from 231 participants. They found that men who did outdoor activities or lifted weights for about 3.2 hours a week had sperm counts up to 42 percentTrusted Source higher than men who didn’t exercise at all.
- Get enough vitamin C and D in your diet. A 2016 study of 200 men found that men who lost weight and took 1,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C supplements every other day saw an increase in sperm count and motility. This effect was more noticeable as the men lost weight. A 2015 studyTrusted Source of 102 couples showed that female partners of men with normal levels of vitamin D in their blood samples experienced higher pregnancy rates than partners of men with vitamin D deficiency, despite no substantial differences in their sperm count or motility.
- Get enough lycopene. A 2014 studyTrusted Source suggests that consuming 4 to 8 mg of lycopene daily can help increase sperm count and viability, or the amount of sperm living in a given sample of semen. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables.
- Limit how much you smoke. A 2015 reviewTrusted Source of 33 studies dating back to 1982 found that smoking had a noticeable effect on semen quality and sperm function, especially in normally fertile men.
- Limit your alcohol intake. A 2014 studyTrusted Source of 1,221 men found that the more the men drank, the more they produced irregularly shaped sperm. The researchers also noted a link between drinking and low testosterone, which can also affect fertility.
- Wear loose-fitting underwear and clothing. Your testicles hang away from your body so that they remain 35 to 37°C (95 to 98.6°F), which is cooler than your body temperature. This is the optimal environment for sperm production. Wearing tight underwear, jeans, or pants pushes your testicles against your body and raises their temperature, which can cause sperm to lose motility and viability.
If you and your partner are trying to conceive, you may want to:
- Have sex two to three times a week to increase your chances of releasing many healthy sperm.
- Wait two to three days between sessions to make sure that you release the largest possible number of sperm in the highest possible volume of semen. For this to work, you’ll need to abstain from masturbation on “off” days.
- Use an ovulation predictor kit to test the levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your partner’s urine. LH levels go up right before ovulation. If your partner receives a positive result, have sex the day they took the test. Having sex for the next couple of days may also increase your chance of conceiving.
- Don’t use oil-based lubricants while you’re trying to conceive. They can have a negative effect on sperm health.
- See your doctor for a semen analysisif you’ve been trying to conceive for over six months. Your sperm health depends on many factors, including your age, diet, and overall sperm count. Your doctor can determine how healthy your sperm are and whether conception is possible, as well as advise you on next steps.
Your body produces fresh sperm every day, and your sperm supply gets replenished at least every 64 days. This ensures that a sufficient supply of sperm is available at any given time.
Sperm quality and quantity are affected by your diet and lifestyle. Eat well, stay active, and avoid unhealthy behaviors to keep your sperm as healthy as possible
How long does it usually take to get pregnant?
It’s impossible to say how long it takes to get pregnant because it’s different for each woman.
Many factors can affect a couple’s chances of conceiving, such as:
- your age
- your general health
- your reproductive health
- how often you have sex
Some women become pregnant quickly, while others take longer. This may be upsetting, but it’s normal.
Most couples (about 84 out of every 100) will get pregnant within a year if they have regular sex and don’t use contraception.
But women become less fertile as they get older. One study found that among couples having regular unprotected sex:
- aged 19 to 26 – 92% will conceive after 1 year and 98% after 2 years
- aged 35 to 39 – 82% will conceive after 1 year and 90% after 2 years
The effect of age on men’s fertility is less clear.
What does ‘regular sex’ mean?
Having regular sex means having sex every 2 to 3 days throughout the month.
Some couples may try to time having sex with when the woman ovulates (releases an egg).
But guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises that this can be stressful and it isn’t recommended.
Fertility problems affect 1 in 7 couples in the UK.
Lots of factors can cause fertility problems, including:
- hormonal (endocrine) disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and problems with the thyroid or pituitary glands
- physical disorders, such as obesity, anorexia nervosa or excessive exercise
- disorders of the reproductive system, such as infections, blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis or a low sperm count
Some of these factors affect either women or men. In around 40% of infertile couples, there’s a problem with both the man and woman.
The most common cause is ovulation failure (which can be caused by lots of different things) and sperm disorders.
In 25% of couples, fertility problems can’t be explained.
Read more detailed information about the causes of infertility.
If you have been trying for a baby for 1 to 2 years without success, see your GP for advice.