Trying to conceive


Dr Tharni Vasavan BSc (hons) MSc, PhD

Published: May 16th, 2022 | Last medically reviewed: January 10th, 2024

7 minute read

Whether you’ve been trying for a while or you are at the beginning of your trying to conceive journey, you are in the right place. With advice from experts in women’s health - we are here to help you take charge of your fertility and optimise your chances of conceiving.

This can be a stressful time and you may - or may not - be having concerns regarding your fertility. If so, it is completely natural to worry about fertility during this time but it is important to know that getting pregnant can sometimes take longer than you expect, with the average time taking one year. Sometimes, it can take longer than that but every couple’s journey is unique.

With our tips to conceive, we can’t make any promises BUT hopefully, it will help to give you and your partner’s fertility a boost and increase those chances. We will also provide a little guidance on the best time to try to get pregnant, how long it can take and how to know if you are fertile.

What are your chances of conceiving?

It is valuable to know that the odds of a person falling pregnant every month are 15 - 25% according to ACOG (the odds being within the higher range, the younger you are). With that figure in mind, it makes sense that it takes couples on average a year or more to conceive - so try not to worry too much.

You may be thinking that those chances are very low, but here are the chances of falling pregnant after trying to conceive for one year (depending on your age).

Chances of falling pregnant after trying to conceive for one year

18 - 24


25 - 29


30 - 34


35 - 39


Checking your partner

Tips to conceive when trying for a baby

Here are some tips to help you conceive and some lifestyle advice that can increase your success rate.

Prepare three months ahead

Did you know that it takes around 90 days (or three to four months) for eggs to complete their last maturation steps? This is why it is very important to plan for pregnancy three months before actively trying.

Your diet and nutrition play a vital role in producing healthy, mature eggs to make a baby - therefore it is recommended that you eat a nutritionally optimal diet for at least 3 months prior to trying for a baby (and for the duration of trying to conceive).

If you have also been on hormonal contraceptives, it can take some time for your body to adjust, your cycles to return to normal and for ovulation to start again. So be prepared and try not to worry if it is taking you over a year to conceive - make sure to include those three months into your journey! And if you’re at the beginning, include them now.

Schedule a preconception check-up at the GP

If you are currently trying to conceive or about to start, scheduling a preconception check-up with your GP can help you gain clarity on whether your body is healthy for conception. Making sure you are healthy before pregnancy can help improve your chances of becoming pregnant.

Get to know your menstrual cycle

One of the easiest ways to learn about your menstrual cycle - is to track it! To be able to do this, there are many free apps that you can download on your phone or simply record on a calendar, noting the start and end of your period every month. It is also good to track any symptoms you are having during your cycle every month (such as heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, and painful bowel movements).

The benefits of tracking your menstrual cycle whilst trying to conceive:

  • Understanding when you are due on your period every month, so you will know if you are late or have missed one (a good sign you may be pregnant).

  • To be able to see whether your periods are regular or whether you are noticing any symptoms. If you notice any unusual or persistent symptoms, one of our private gynaecologists can help you get to the root cause.

Track your ovulation and know your fertile window - timing is everything!

It is a myth that the more sex you have - the higher your chances of getting pregnant. Because, in fact, there are only 5-6 days in your cycle when conception is possible (this is called your fertile window). In order to know when your fertile window is, you will need to track your ovulation.

The fertile window is typically the 5 days leading up to ovulation and the day after ovulation. Ovulation occurs on average on the 14th day of your menstrual cycle, but every person’s cycle is unique, so it is important to track yours to understand when you typically ovulate.

Tips to conceive chart

Have regular, unprotected sex during ovulation and a couple of days before

Although it is technically only possible to conceive when you are ovulating, it is essential to know that sperm can survive in the body for up to 5 days (sometimes, even 7 days) after having unprotected sex. This means that there is still a chance for you to get pregnant soon after your period finishes; it is more unlikely but it is still possible.

To increase your chances, have unprotected sex everyday or every other day, a couple of days after you finish your period, until two days after ovulation. That includes your fertile window and a couple of days before, just to increase those chances a little bit more.

Regularly exercise, but don’t overdo it

Being psychically active whilst trying for a baby can be very beneficial for getting pregnant. Although this is true, do not overdo it. Excessive physical activity can disrupt your menstrual cycle or make it stop completely, resulting in infertility.

Moderate physical exercise can help reduce the risk of certain health conditions that can cause reproductive health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions. It may also help you reduce stress and improve your sleep - which is an added benefit when trying to get pregnant.

If you are vigorously active, it is advised to discuss your workout routine with your doctor when trying to conceive and whilst pregnant.

Maintain a healthy weight

Being within a healthy weight range helps the reproductive system to produce healthy and better quality eggs - therefore your chances of conception will increase.

Being a healthy weight will also improve your chances of having a healthy baby and will also decrease your chances of having health problems during pregnancy - i.e. diabetes or high blood pressure.

Eat a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet

Although there are no specific guidelines for a recommended ‘fertility diet’, the Mediterranean diet is a great option when trying to get pregnant. It is rich in fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans and unsaturated fats such as olive oil and avocado - all which can contribute to a healthy reproductive system.

Due to the abundance of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in this diet, it is rich in antioxidants, which have been shown to protect eggs from DNA damage and oxidative stress.

The bottom line is that you want to try to eat whole foods as much as you can and stay away from foods that are processed. Processed foods can cause inflammation, cell damage, imbalanced hormones and also trigger oxidative stress - all of which impact sperm and egg production.

Get enough sleep every night

Research shows that sleep deprivation can impact the production of reproductive hormones - making it harder to conceive. As we all know, sleep is a vital part of optimal human function, so prioritising your sleep is essential when trying to conceive.

There is growing evidence that shows that lack of sleep is associated with diminished fertility, a lower chance of success with fertility treatments, as well as an increased chance of developing a health condition during pregnancy.

Make sure you and your partner are getting at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. Some ways that you can improve the quality of your sleep include:

Avoid having food or caffeinated drinks before sleeping.

Be consistent and go to bed and get up at the same time each night/morning.

Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature, and ensure there are no disturbances.

Completely turn off all electronics, including mobile, TVs, laptops etc.

Be physically active during the day to help you get a better sleep at night.

Decrease the amount of time spent on your phone or watching TV before going to sleep - to help switch your brain off.

Start taking prenatal vitamins

What are prenatal vitamins? Prenatal vitamins contain essential nutrients, including folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), B vitamins, vitamin C and more. All of which can help create better reproductive health.

Taking prenatal vitamins whilst trying to conceive can improve the quality of cervical mucus (which is essential for the sperm to be able to reach the egg), balance reproductive hormones and improve the quality of eggs.

Be careful not to consume excess amounts of what you need on a daily basis. High doses of some vitamins and minerals can be harmful to your reproductive health.

Your GP may recommend taking both a prenatal vitamin and a folic acid supplement, it is advisable to talk to your doctor about your daily folic acid intake. Your healthcare provider may also be able to recommend a specific brand to you, or you can choose yourself - they are available over the counter at pharmacies.

Stop or reduce alcohol intake

Drinking alcohol can imbalance your hormones and your menstrual cycle, affect your ovulation, reduce your ovarian reserve, and prevent successful implantation in the uterus.

Research also shows that drinking alcohol can lower testosterone levels, reduce sperm quality and production, and reduce libido. It is also said that alcohol consumption can affect sperm - which can lead to development problems for your future baby.

We know it can be hard to stop drinking in some cases, but due to the effects alcohol can have on reproductive health, it is advisable for both you and your partner to avoid any alcohol when you start trying to get pregnant. Try to cut alcohol down or completely out three months before trying to conceive, for optimal chances of conceiving.

Stop smoking

On average, it takes longer to get pregnant if you or your partner smokes . This is due to the negative effect smoking has on fertility.

Research studies have shown that smoking can disrupt ovarian function and reduce the amount of mature eggs that can be fertilised by sperm. It can also kill the eggs in the ovarian reserve and reduce the overall number - making the chances of conceiving slimmer. Smoking is also associated with lower sperm count and quality.

Due to the huge increase in vaping in recent years - it is important to include that here too! There has been evidence to show that nicotine can harm reproductive health , including anovulation, irregular periods and lower quality egg production. It can also reduce sperm count and quality, and the lack of quality in sperm/eggs makes conceiving nearly impossible.

If you want to increase your chances of conceiving, it is advisable to stop smoking/vaping to increase the possibility of getting pregnant.

Cut down on caffeine

It is recommended by The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology to reduce your caffeine intake to as little as possible when trying to get pregnant. The absolute minimum you should be drinking is two cups of coffee per day but if you could decrease that to one or none - even better!

Be aware that other drinks/food (other than coffee) are also caffeinated - such as tea, matcha, energy drinks, soft drinks and even chocolate and protein bars!

Caffeine can affect ovulation by causing changes in hormone levels . The more you consume the more effect it can have on your reproductive system - so limiting caffeine intake is sensible for those trying for a baby.

Practice mindfulness to de-stress and relax

Fertility can be improved by practising simple mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness can reduce stress and increase relaxation, which can improve reproductive health. Ways that you can practise mindfulness include:

  • Try to meditate once a day, either in the morning or at night or when is best suited for you.

  • Spend more time in nature and observing what is happening around you.

  • Focus on your breath and practise deep breathing exercises.

Be kind to yourself

Whilst all of the above tips are super important for your fertility, it is also so important to take good care of your mental health when you are trying to conceive. Make sure to set up a routine of relaxation and self-care, to reduce the stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing throughout your conception journey.

Have compassion for yourself and be kind to yourself. Try not to worry too much and as long as you are doing or trying to do all of the above, then you are trying your best.

Learn more from our complete guide on trying to conceive.

Medical history

Nutritional tips to boost fertility

What to eat to improve egg and sperm quality

These are some vital nutrients that are needed to produce high-quality eggs/sperm. Eating these nutritional foods can increase egg/sperm quality and increase your chances of conceiving, make sure to include them in both your and your partner's daily diet.

A Mediterranean diet.

Folic acid supplement (400 mcg a day)

Iodine (Fish, shellfish, plant milk, milk and dairy products).

CoQ10 (Beef liver, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, peanut butter, nuts, pinto beans, tofu, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli).

Zinc (Nuts, seeds, (sesame in particular), whole grains, beans, oysters, cheese, dairy products, lean red meat).

Omega-3 (1-2 portions of oily fish per week, or take a supplement containing EHA and DHA).

Antioxidants (Fruit, veg, olive oil, nuts, seeds, spices, herbs).

What to eat for successful implantation

A Mediterranean diet.

Folic acid supplement (400 mcg a day)

Selenium (Brazil nuts, seeds, lean meat, seafood (oysters, tuna), fortified cereals, wheat germ, eggs and legumes).

Vitamin C - potatoes, citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli and brussel sprouts.

Vitamin B6 - poultry, pork, some fish, soy products, oats, bananas, peanuts, milk, wheat germ found in cereal products.

Vitamin E - nuts and seeds, avocado, plant oils (rapeseed, sunflower, vegetable, olive), soya, corn, wheat germ found in cereal products.

Omega-3 (1-2 portions of oily fish per week, or take a supplement containing EHA and DHA).

Wholegrains (quinoa, wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta, oats).


Herbs that boost fertility

Amongst others, here are some popular herbs known to help increase fertility in both men and women:

Shatavari is a powerful herb that has been used for centuries - it is believed to support fertility by regulating hormone imbalances and improving the quality of eggs.

Lodhra is beneficial for fertility as it helps regulate menstrual cycles, reduce inflammation, as well as improve egg quality.

Ashwagandha helps reduce stress and balances hormones. It can also increase sperm count and sperm quality in men, as well as regulate menstrual cycles and improve sexual function in women.

Chasteberry promotes a balanced menstrual cycle, regulates hormone levels, and is used to treat reproductive issues. This herb can increase fertility in both men and women.

Safed Musli can improve sperm count in men and can help treat reproductive disorders. It can also enhance reproductive health in women and improve libido.

Adding these herbs to your diet may increase your chances of conceiving and contribute to a healthy reproductive system for both you and your partner.

On average, it can take up to one year to fall pregnant

How long does it take to get pregnant?

On average, it can take up to one year to fall pregnant when actively trying (assuming you are under 35 and in good health). It is possible to conceive within the first six months, but it is less common. It can take longer if you are older - i.e. it may take a couple of years if you are over 35.

After one year of trying to conceive, what percentage of couples will fall pregnant?

Our table above shows the possibility of conceiving after one year of actively trying, depending on your age. The term ‘subfertility’ is used when a couple is experiencing a delay in conception and has not been able to conceive after one year of having regular, unprotected sex.

What are the chances of sperm reaching the egg?

During ejaculation, around 200-300 million sperm are released into the vagina, but only around 200 of those sperm will actually reach the egg. Once the sperm has reached the egg, the chances of conception are between 10-33% (if having unprotected sex during your fertile window). Due to every sperm being different in shape or quality, some of them are not capable of fertilising an egg.

The chances may seem very slim but don’t worry, we guess that’s why it takes on average up to one year for most couples to fall pregnant!

What are the chances of getting pregnant whilst ovulating?

As previously mentioned, to maximise the chances, make sure to have unprotected sex during the 3 days leading up to ovulation and during your ovulation (your fertile window). There is a 20-30% chance of falling pregnant on any of these days.

How to tell if you are fertile

Check your fertility with an at-home fertility test kit

If you are worried about your fertility or simply just curious, the best and most convenient way to check your fertility is by taking an at-home fertility test.

Our at-home fertility tests can be taken in the comfort of your own home, and at a tenth of the price of a fertility clinic test. They can provide you with clarity on what is going on inside your body, and provide a personalised hormone panel to identify any hormone imbalances.

We believe it is important to know about your fertility before trying to conceive, so you are aware of any health issues that may impact your chances of conceiving. It is better to know sooner, rather than later - so any issues can be addressed.

Get an ultrasound scan

Another way of testing your fertility is to get an ultrasound scan. This is done to check the ovaries, womb (uterus) and fallopian tubes.

The fallopian tubes must be open and healthy for the egg and sperm to be able to meet. A hysterosalpingo-contrast-ultrasonography is a special type of ultrasound scan sometimes used to check the Fallopian tubes.

A small amount of fluid is injected into the neck of your womb (the cervix). Ultrasound is then used to look at the fluid as it passes through the fallopian tubes to check for any blockages or abnormalities. If the test suggests a possible blockage, your doctor will refer you to a specialist to discuss further checks and treatment.

Get your partner's sperm checked

One-third of infertility cases are due to sperm factors (e.g: low sperm count or poor sperm quality). Healthy sperm is determined by the quantity, quality, movement, shape and DNA fragmentation.

If you are trying to get pregnant as a couple, it is important that both partners prioritise their health , to create healthy sperm. If you are curious or concerned about your partner's fertility, you can ask your GP or fertility specialist to refer them for a sperm analysis test.

What defines good sperm quality?

‘A healthy sperm count’ = a high sperm count (15 million or more) for every ml of semen. When there is a healthy sperm count, there is a higher chance that one of the sperm will fertilise the egg.

‘Sperm motility’ = the movement of the sperm. Not all sperm will move effectively (reducing the amount of sperm that actually make it to the egg), but this is normal. A healthy motility rate is when more than 40% of sperm have good motility, low sperm motility is when 40% or less can not swim towards the egg.

‘Sperm shape’ = Normal sperm has one long tail and an oval-shaped head. It is common to have abnormally shaped sperm - such as a larger head or two tails. Sperm have to be of a normal shape to be able to swim to the egg and to be able to fertilise it. According to WebMD, ‘the chance of fertility is high when 14% or more have a normal shape’. Fertility decreases when less than 14% have a normal shape.

When to talk to a doctor

When to talk to a doctor

Preconception check-up

A preconception check-up is a medical checkup at your GP that you get before trying to conceive to make sure that you are healthy. Preconception checkups can identify potential health problems that may affect your ability to conceive. They can also be helpful to prevent any health problems that may affect your pregnancy or the baby.

Making sure your body is healthy before trying to get pregnant can improve your chances of conceiving. It is advisable to book a preconception check-up if you are currently trying to conceive and have not yet had one.

Concerns with fertility

If you have any concerns regarding yours or your partner's fertility (i.e, you or your partner have a health condition that may impact fertility, or you’ve been trying to conceive for over 12 months), think about booking an appointment with your doctor so you can speak about your concerns.

Checking your partner

Understand your fertility and reproductive health

Hopefully after reading our ultimate guide to trying to conceive, you feel better acquainted with how to proactively take charge of your fertility. At Hertility we can take that a step further and help you find out exactly what is going on when it comes to your reproductive health.

Understanding your fertility can help put your mind at ease (if you’ve been having concerns), or it may help provide you with a diagnosis of a health condition that may be impacting your fertility. Here is a step-by-step for our at-home fertility testing kit:.

Step One: Complete our comprehensive online health assessment

We will ask you more questions than you will ever be asked at a doctor’s appointment to precisely calculate any red flags that could be impacting your fertility.

Step Two: Get to know all of the hormones in fertility

Using our scientific expertise, we take a whole body approach to ensure we’re testing every hormone that could potentially lead to fertility issues.

Step Three: Seamless blood collection

No more additional appointments, waiting lists and lengthy commutes. With us, collecting your blood sample is a simple, seamless experience.

Step Four: Gain clarity on your reproductive health

Our report is the most accurate diagnostic tool in women’s health, screening for 18 reproductive health conditions.

Step Five: Get support from dedicated experts

Fast referrals to vetted partner clinics for treatments such as IVF, IUI and egg freezing to continue your fertility journey, if required.

We hope our guide has helped you gain clarity on which factors are important to consider when trying to get pregnant. Hopefully, we have put your mind at ease or inspired you to make some positive lifestyle changes - to help increase those chances.

If you have been trying to conceive for a while and need further guidance, read our blog on struggling to conceive.

Here's what we'll cover


What are your chances of conceiving?

Tips to conceive when trying for a baby

Nutritional tips to boost fertility

How long does it take to get pregnant?

How to tell if you are fertile

When to talk to a doctor

Understand your fertility and reproductive health