Chances of Getting Pregnant

By SheCares Editorial Team
Updated: March 26, 2019

When women are not yet thinking about motherhood, it might seem as if a brief moment of heated passion and carelessness can result in pregnancy.

But when they begin actively trying to conceive, they often realize that the likelihood of getting pregnant per menstrual cycle is not as high as they previously thought. Contrary to common beliefs, couples have only a 25% chance of conceiving in any given menstrual cycle, and most do not get pregnant at first try. 

Keep on reading to gain a better understanding of your chances of pregnancy, including how easy is it to get pregnant throughout the month and how various factors, such as age or birth control methods, shape the statistics of getting pregnant.

Chances of Getting Pregnant

Chances of Getting Pregnant in a Cycle

Chances of Getting Pregnant in a Cycle

Due to natural hormonal fluctuations driving menstruation, a woman's odds of getting pregnant greatly vary during the cycle. The following breakdown is based on a 28-day cycle, though healthy period patterns can last from 21 to 35 days. 

Chances of Pregnancy During Period

For most women with 28-day cycles, the odds of pregnancy while on a period are nil because their fertile window does not start until Day 9. However, those with shorter cycles might be entering their fertility days while still bleeding.

Chances of Pregnancy After Period and Before Ovulation

The odds of pregnancy increase with every day that passes after a period as a woman is approaching her fertile window. Having sex during the five days before ovulation is a woman's best chance to get pregnant. Those with short cycles might already be in their most fertile days right after a period and before ovulation.

Chances of Pregnancy during Ovulation

Ovulation, which lasts for 12 to 24 hours, is the only time during which the egg can be fertilized if the sperm is present by the fallopian tubes. As such, having sex on ovulation day guarantees very high chances of pregnancy.

Chances of Pregnancy After Ovulation and Before Period

The time of the lowest probability of pregnancy is after ovulation and until the next period. When the egg is not fertilized by the sperm during the 24-hour window, it will move to the uterus to be shed about two weeks later with menstrual bleeding.

Additional Information

For women with irregular periods or irregular ovulation, it is best to track their menstrual patterns with the help of ovulation tests, such as checking cervical mucus, as they help detect bodily clues that fertile days are approaching.

Keep on reading to learn more about the chances of getting pregnant each month or continue to the next section to discover how age affects your odds of conceiving. 

Chances of Getting Pregnant by Age

Chances of Getting Pregnant by Age

Women are generally conscious of an age-related natural fertility decline. Many, however, are not sure what exactly their odds of pregnancy are at various ages.

Chances of Pregnancy in the 20s

A woman in her 20s has the best chance to get pregnant, about 25% per cycle, as her ovarian reserve is abundant, and the majority of her eggs are chromosomally normal. As such, 96% of 20-year-olds conceive within a year of trying.

Chances of Pregnancy in the 30s

Turning 30 comes with the first reproductive challenges, although a woman's fertility rates continue high with about 86% of women in this age range conceiving within a year. However, fertility at 35 begins to declines at faster rates.

Chances of Pregnancy in the 40s

While there is a 5% chance of conceiving per cycle in the early 40s, it falls down to 1-3% per cycle after 45. Because the majority of the eggs are abnormal and women enter the menopausal transition, fertility at 40 comes with a high risk of complications.

Chances of Pregnancy in the 50s

Getting pregnant naturally after 50 is impossible for most women as they reach menopause in their early 50s, ending their reproductive abilities. After menopause, women can get pregnant only using in vitro fertilization (IVF) with younger donor eggs.

Continue reading for more information about the chances of getting pregnant by age or keep reading below to learn about the probability of pregnancy on birth control.

 

Chances of Getting Pregnant on Birth Control

Chances of Getting Pregnant on Birth Control

A woman's odds of pregnancy mainly depend on two factors: the type of birth control she is on and her diligence in following the schedule.

Failure rates of various contraceptive methods are often based on perfect use, which means a woman is using them as instructed every single time she has sex. In reality, most women practice what is referred to as typical use, which includes human error, such as forgetting the pill.

Most Effective

require no diligence
TYPE
PERFECT USE
TYPICAL USE
Implant
Less than 1%
Less than 1%
IUD
Less than 1%
Less than 1%
Tubal ligation
Less than 0.5%
Less than 0.5%

Very Effective

but require high diligence
TYPE
PERFECT USE
TYPICAL USE
Pill
1%
9%
Patch
1%
9%
Vaginal Ring
1%
9%
Shot
1%
6%

Least Effective

due to high risk of human error
TYPE
PERFECT USE
TYPICAL USE
Barrier methods*
2%
From 12-29%
*(condom, cervical cap, diaphragm, spermicide)

Continue reading more about the likelihood of pregnancy on birth control or check the section below to learn about the chances of pregnancy after stopping birth control.

Chances of Getting Pregnant after Birth Control

Chances of Getting Pregnant after Birth Control

Despite common belief, women have the same chances of pregnancy after getting off birth control as those who have not used it.

However, what is more important is how quickly a woman's fertility returns after stopping birth control. For pregnancy to occur, a woman has to be ovulating. Because most birth control methods work by preventing ovulation, it might take time for normal ovulatory cycles to be fully restored.

NO DELAY

TYPE
WHEN DOES OVULATION RETURN
Barrier methods
Immediately

SHORT DELAY

TYPE
WHEN DOES OVULATION RETURN
Pills
1-3 months
Patches
1-3 months
Vaginal rings
1-3 months
IUD
1-3 months
Implants
1-3 months

LONG DELAY

TYPE
WHEN DOES OVULATION RETURN
Shots
9-12 months
Implants
Never, unless after tubal ligation reversal

It is important to remember that how long it takes to conceive depends on other factors as well. Consequently, it can take up to a year for a healthy couple to conceive.

Keep on reading on find out more about chances of pregnancy after getting off birth control or move on to the next section to read about the odds of conception while nursing.

Chances of Getting Pregnant while Breastfeeding

Chances of Getting Pregnant while Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be a reliable yet temporary birth control method capable of lowering the odds of conception and helping women with pregnancy spacing, provided it is well understood and properly done.

How Does Breastfeeding Prevent Pregnancy?

Milk production in the breast is stimulated by the hormone prolactin following childbirth. Prolactin inhibits the release of other hormones that normally signal the ovaries to mature the eggs in the preparation for ovulation. Without those hormones, the ovulatory cycle cannot kick off. If a woman is not ovulating, conception cannot occur.

How Likely is it to Get Pregnant while Breastfeeding?

Generally, it is unlikely for a woman who is breastfeeding and whose period has not returned yet to get pregnant. In some cases, however, a woman might ovulate before the arrival of the first post-partum menses.

The likelihood of conceiving while breastfeeding is most commonly determined by the frequency and total amount of time the baby spends at the breasts per 24 hours. The two types of breastfeeding that are commonly used to delay the return of full fertility, exclusive and ecological breastfeeding, can range in their effectiveness varies from 1 to 6%.

Continue on reading for more in-depth information about the chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding.

Key Takeaways

As couples give conceiving a try, they often anxiously weigh their probability of pregnancy if they do not succeed right away, automatically suspecting infertility problems. In reality, making a baby is not as simple as it may seem, and it may take a healthy couple up to year of active trying to get pregnant.

For starters, learning to time intercourse with a woman's most fertile days takes several months of diligent tracking of menstrual patterns. Although progressing age does not affect men to a great extent, women's fertility is time-limited and rapidly declines after 35 as the ovaries run out of eggs, thus reducing the chances of pregnancy. When time is of the essence, possible fertility delays after stopping birth control might further complicate conception trials. Understanding all of the factors that naturally determine how likely is it to get pregnant is key to optimizing the baby-making process for ultimate success.

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