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how long does it take to conceive?

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Question: My husband and I have been trying to conceive on our own for several months. When is it time to seek professional help?

Answer: Approximately 50% of couples conceive in the first six months of unprotected intercourse, 80% by the first year, and 90% of couples will have conceived by two years. If you have been using birth control pills, we often advise to discontinue them three to six months before trying to conceive. Ovulation predictor kits are fine, but be aware that normal couples may not ovulate every month. Do not use them for more than three cycles, as it may cause stress with the whole process. If you have intercourse approximately every other day on the 10th to the 17th day of your cycle, you have not missed your fertile time.

For couples with no risk factors, consult your gynecologist after one year of unprotected intercourse without conception. We also advise preconception counseling with your gynecologist, and this topic is often discussed at that time. Before proceeding with any testing, you should discuss infertility treatments with your gynecologist.

For couples with risk factors, consult your gynecologist after six months or cycles of unprotected intercourse. Risk factors include past history of infertility, advanced maternal age (>35), history of tubal disease or gyne surgery.

Dr. Novas is an OB/GYN at Good Shepherd Hospital


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