When Should You Start Worrying About Not Conceiving?




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When Should You Start Worrying About Not Conceiving?

“We have friends who’ve been married for 15 years with no kids. They’ve been trying to have a family for two years now, without any success. But the weird thing is that they’ve never used contraception and if you ask them how long they’ve been waiting to have kids, they’ll tell you two years – because that is when they started trying, even though they’ve been having unprotected sex for 15 years.” – Ryan, 35

At what point do you start wondering if you’ll ever have that child you’ve been trying for? Is it:

A. After three months of trying to conceive
B. After 12 months of trying to conceive
C. After two years of trying to conceive
D. After ten years of trying to conceive
E. Any of the above

No, you can’t phone a friend.

Give up? Well, there are two answers. Firstly, medically you’re classified as ‘infertile’ after 12 months. A medical diagnosis defines infertility as the inability to conceive within 12 months. If you visit a GP within that time, that’s what you’ll hear. You haven’t done your time yet.



Some people start wondering at A – three months. It could be that their sisters all get pregnant by just looking at their husbands, so they can’t understand why it’s taking so long.

In reality, the second answer is E or countless variations in between. When you start to get anxious about whether kids will happen will depend on a multitude of things.

Should You Start Worrying About Not Conceiving?

Possibly. Sometimes it’s a justified concern that things are taking so long. Sometimes it’s not. After all, 70% of all couples trying to have a baby don’t conceive within the first three months. In fact, if you were to look at the standard ‘rule of thumb’ percentages that are based on standard percentage for couples trying to have a family and accepted as general conception rates by the medical community, the wait can be longer than you imagine. They go something like this:

  • After three months of trying, 30% will be pregnant.
  • After six months of trying, 50% to 60% will be pregnant.
  • After nine months of trying, 60% to 70% will be pregnant.
  • After 12 months, 80% to 90% will be pregnant.
  • After two years, 95% will be pregnant.

It is true that for most people, conception is a reasonably easy thing to achieve. For some, it happens too easily and can seriously alter their life plans. ‘Surprise’ pregnancies highlight this. The fact that an estimated 40% of all births worldwide are unplanned backs it up too (The Alan Guttmacher Institute 1999). And don’t think this figure is high because of the ‘underdeveloped’ Third World. Recent research has shown that unplanned pregnancy rates in the USA and Australia are as high as 50%.

So if the professionals say that conception is not a given and the statistics back them up, why is it that we presume that if we plan pregnancy it will happen quickly? Why is it that we feel we can turn it on like a tap? Why is it that we get upset if we have to wait?



Because of the myths in our society. When researching Swimming Upstream, we found four fertility myths (more about them in the book). But the first fertility myth was that we can control our fertility. The reality is, we can’t always do that.

So What Should You Do About Worrying?

Well, for starters, I’m not going to tell you to just relax. It doesn’t work. One of the hardest things to do in your life is to relax when everyone is telling you to relax. It’s like trying to get a song out of your head when people keep singing lines from it. It always comes creeping back into your mind.

But you can take control of as much of the situation as you can. So you can:

  • Read up and learn as much as you can. There is enough myth and misconception in society to confuse you – plus, you’re probably in a mindset where you are seeking some concrete answers. And make sure you find some information about the issues you may face as well as the medical stuff. It’s helpful to know about emotional reactions as well as medical ones.
  • Visit a GP if you’ve got any concerns about previous conditions. But, be warned, if you don’t have an existing medical condition, most GPs aren’t thinking about testing you until you’ve been trying for 12 months.
  • Accept that you may not have the control over your fertility that you thought you would and realise it may take longer than you first thought. Sure, some of your friends may be getting pregnant easily – that’s probably just a combination of luck and fate. It’s certainly not a sign that you are ‘doing it wrong’.

Information On Getting Pregnant

Check out BellyBelly’s articles designed to help couples get pregnant faster:

Charting Your Cycle For Conception
Cervical Mucus, Ovulation & Your Fertile Period


Ovulation Symptoms & Signs of Ovulation
Fertile Cervical Mucus

David Rawlings is the Author of ‘Swimming Upstream’, which is available at Australian IVF Clinics and online.

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