Against the odds: what are the chances of getting pregnant?

When you’re about to embark on the exciting conception frontier, positivity abounds. It’s natural, right? So getting pregnant when you want should be easy. But those of us who have taken a ride on the baby making merry-go-round know that when it comes to creating little humans, nothing goes to plan. In fact, the chances of falling pregnant in any given month can be incredibly slim. Here are some fascinating facts on the chances of falling pregnant, and what you can do to improve your chances.

When is the best time to try?

While women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have, men on the other hand produce more sperm every day. About 300 million, actually. But they’re not ready to rock as soon as they’re produced, they take about 80 days to reach maturity.

For a woman who has an average menstrual cycle, ovulation will occur on day 14. But here’s where it gets tricky. Some women have longer cycles, others shorter – so that all important ovulation day can be difficult to pinpoint. If you’ve managed to time it correctly, when the egg is released at ovulation, any sperm on the scene can attempt to fertilise the egg.

What are the odds?

An eye-opening study conducted in the mid 1990s by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences discovered that the fertile window for a woman can vary greatly, even for women who find their cycles are regular. The study concluded that more than 70 per cent of women are in their fertile window before day 10 or after day 17 of their cycle – a seemingly large window.

Given that the odds of a woman becoming pregnant in any given month are 15 to 25 per cent, the window begins to narrow. Factor in variables like age (Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicate the number of women giving birth over the age of 30 has doubled in the past 25 years) and irregular cycles, and things get even tougher.

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What can you and your partner do?

As the facts and figures show, contrary to popular belief the odds are actually stacked pretty high against getting pregnant. And for many of us, that’s just what happens. Many women assume that as the months go on, if they don’t fall pregnant, the problem lies with them. But men obviously play an integral part in the conception process.

Things like age, smoking, alcohol consumption and weight can impact sperm production and health. In fact, being 10 kilos overweight may increase the risk of infertility by an incredible 10 per cent. Men can help increase the health of their sperm by addressing some of the lifestyle factors, and the great news is that because they’re making new sperm all the time, those changes can positively impact their fertility relatively quickly.

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