Many couples try to plan their pregnancies so that their baby will arrive at an opportune time — during a certain season, or before or after some event. Most, however, soon discover that it's nearly impossible to plan conception down to the month. Contrary to a common assumption, only a minority of couples conceive the first time they try to get pregnant.

Timing Sex: Improving Your Odds for Conception

It takes an average of 4 to 5 months of unprotected intercourse for a woman in her early 20s to conceive. That figure rises to 5 to 7 months for women in their late 20s, 7 to 10 months for women in their early 30s, and 10 to 12 months for women in their late 30s. Bear in mind that these numbers are only averages. Some women from each age group will conceive in their first month, and some in their twelfth. Both extremes are considered normal. Still, months of disappointment can be frustrating — particularly if you happen to know someone who got pregnant from just one instance of unprotected sex.


Couples who want to maximize their chances of conception can take a few steps to make every attempt count. This becomes especially important for couples who are often separated by travel or work and have limited opportunity for sexual activity, couples in which the woman is over 30, and couples who have a particular need to conceive very soon. For most couples, though, odds are that if they have regular unprotected sex, they'll end up expecting a baby within a year.