Getting pregnant can either be extremely easy or extremely hard; there isn't usually an in-between when it comes to fertility. No matter your age, if you're trying for a baby and it doesn't happen within the first few months, things tend to get a little stressful. You're often left wondering if you're missing your window of opportunity or even if something is wrong biologically with either you or your partner.
Let's get the statistics down. According to parents.com, the prime baby making age is between ages 20 and 24, when there is a 96% success rate when trying for one year. Between the ages of 25 and 34, the chances of getting pregnant within a year drop slightly to 86% with a 10% chance of miscarriage (rising to 20% at the 30-year mark). From age 35 to 39, there is roughly a 78% chance of conceiving within one year. By age 40, a woman's eggs are 90% abnormal (meaning there are higher chances of birth defects and other complications) and by the time a woman reaches age 45, the chances of conceiving (a healthy or unhealthy baby) are 3-4%.
Taking a step back from those numbers, there are some ways you can better your chances at conceiving no matter which percentage you fall under. When it comes to conception, there is one thing that is most important to focus on, and that is ovulation. If you don't have regular cycles, ovulation can be hard to track but it's still possible! For those with regular cycles, typically ovulation occurs midway through the cycle. In textbook cycles of 28 days, that means ovulation is expected to occur 14 days before the start of your period. There are ovulation tests you can buy, and you can also try tracking your basal body temperature to help pinpoint when intercourse is most likely to be effective. There are also signs of ovulation that can help (such as stretchy cervical mucus). Learning to read your body is a very effective way of determining when ovulation occurs. And remember, once ovulation occurs, you only have a 24 to 36-hour window to get the job done.
So, now you know you're ovulating and roughly when you are ovulating, but for some reason, a baby has yet to make an appearance! If you are pretty sure that it's not your partner's sperm that is the issue, there are some things you can do to help your chances of conceiving (in addition to tracking ovulation): taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid, eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and having intercourse every other day. Most importantly (and we can't stress this enough), stress can work as its own birth control when you're trying to conceive. Many couples will say the same thing- once they stopped trying to get pregnant is when it happened. That is because the stress, anxiety, charting and tracking stopped.
If you don't seem to be ovulating or you are still having trouble conceiving after 12 cycles of trying, consult your physician about seeing a fertility specialist. In the meantime, stay healthy, hydrated and relaxed, and the odds of that positive test showing up will be that much more likely!