Before you’re in full-on baby-making mode, the process may seem pretty straightforward: Have sex, get pregnant. But conceiving sometimes takes a little more planning than that.

As soon as you do begin to think about starting your own family, you’ll likely have more than a few how-to-get-pregnant questions. For example, what should you do before trying to conceive? When’s the best time to try? And is there anything you can do to get pregnant faster?

To help, we’ve got all the best trying-to-conceive tips right here. Read on for the scoop on everything you need to know about how to get pregnant, from your odds of conceiving to what you can do to have a healthier pregnancy right from the start. Happy baby-making!

What are your chances of getting pregnant?

If you’re wondering what your odds are of getting pregnant, your chances are pretty good when you’re younger. In fact, an average healthy couple in their 20s and early 30s has about a 25 to 30 percent chance of getting pregnant during any one menstrual cycle, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). 

Though that number may seem low, over the span of a year it means your chances of conceiving are about 75 to 85 percent. Just keep in mind that those odds drop with age, which may be a factor if you’re finding that it’s difficult for you to get pregnant.

What affects your chances of getting pregnant?

A number of factors can contribute to infertility in women or impact your chances of conception. If any of these affects you (or you think they might), talk to your doctor about what steps to take:

  • Age. One of the biggest factors is your age, since fertility declines over time. For example, the average, healthy 30-year-old has about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month she tries. By age 40, the odds drop to less than 10 percent each month.
  • Smoking. Up to 13 percent of infertility in women is caused by cigarette smoking, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Smoking can lead to fertility problems in men, too, since it can reduce sperm production.
  • Weight. Being overweight or obese can cause the body to produce too much estrogen, which can throw off the reproductive cycle, while being underweight can shut down ovulation. About 12 percent of all infertility cases are a result of a woman weighing either too little or too much, according to the ASRM.
  • Health issues. Endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids and abnormalities of the uterus caused by previous surgeries or scarring can impair fertility. Other illnesses, left untreated, (including kidney disease, untreated celiac disease, thyroid disease and sickle cell anemia in men) may also affect pregnancy odds.
  • Irregular menstrual cycles. If your cycles are irregular — whether due to hormonal imbalances like PCOS, weight issues or medications you take — it can be tougher to figure out when you’re ovulating. And not knowing when to do the deed makes it harder to get pregnant.
  • Autoimmune disorders. Lupus can affect a woman’s chances of getting or staying pregnant.
  • Sexually transmitted infections. Untreated STIs (usually gonorrhea and chlamydia) can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID, in turn, can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus and surrounding tissues, making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant. Fortunately, timely treatment of STIs can help you avoid PID, which is why regularly seeing your OB/GYN, especially if you’re sexually active with more than one partner, is so important.
  • Occupational exposure to environmental toxins. Some research has shown that prolonged exposure to pesticides, pollutants and industrial chemicals — which usually occurs in certain jobs (more on that below) — can decrease a couple’s chances of conceiving. For women, these toxins can disrupt the menstrual cycle or sex hormone production and reduce fertility. Men may have low hormone levels, a lower sex drive, reduction in sperm or semen, or erectile dysfunction.
  • Excessive exercise. Even if your weight is just right, exercising too hard (or long, like more than five hours a week) can affect baby-making. But that doesn’t mean you should let your gym membership lapse. Regular, moderate exercise slightly increased fertility for all women, regardless of weight.

Getting pregnant at any age

Ultimately, when you decide to have your little one is up to you (and your body). That said, age does matter, so be aware of the various advantages and disadvantages. If you’re wondering about the peak age to get pregnant or what age is too late to get pregnant, here’s the lowdown:

Getting pregnant when you’re under 35


  • Assuming no medical issues affect their fertility, younger women typically find it easier to get pregnant. In fact, the peak age to get pregnant is between the late teens and late 20s. 
  • Getting pregnant earlier means you’ll probably have plenty of energy to care for a baby and keep up with an always-on-the-go toddler.
  • The odds of miscarriage, preterm birth, birth defects, genetic abnormalities and pregnancy complications like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes are all lower among women under 35.
  • Having a baby while you’re younger means that your parents (your child’s grandparents!) will be younger too.


  • Younger parents may not be as financially stable as those who are older. And a family may require a dual income — so you may have to work at least part-time, even if you'd prefer to stay at home.
  • The relationship of young couples might not be as stable, and adding a pregnancy and baby to the equation can cause additional strain.
  • Starting a family earlier can make keeping up relationships with non-parent friends more challenging.

Women under 35 should see a specialist if they're unsuccessful at getting pregnant after 12 months of trying.

Getting pregnant when you’re 35 and up


  • When you’re older, you’re more likely to be financially secure.
  • Older moms tend to be more established in their careers, so you may find it easier to return to work (if you choose).
  • Your relationship with your partner may be more stable, which benefits you and baby.
  • Waiting gives you more time to travel and hit other goals on your to-do list, so there’s no feeling of “missing out.”


  • It can be more difficult to get pregnant.
  • If you have trouble conceiving, you may need in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other fertility treatments, which can be expensive.
  • Pregnancy at an older age increases the risk for ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, preterm birth, stillbirth, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and birth defects.
  • Older women are more likely to need a C-section.
  • You might not have as much energy as younger parents, making keeping up with a baby or active child more challenging.
  • Health issues like diabetes and hypertension are more likely as you’re older. These can affect your chances of getting pregnant.

Women who are older than 35 and have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for six months should see a specialist. Women who are over 40 and trying to conceive should see a specialist immediately.

Tips to increase your chances of getting pregnant

No matter your age, the following advice will help boost your odds of conceiving and ensure you have a healthier nine months when you do:

Start charting

Even if you and your partner hit the sheets frequently, you won’t get pregnant if you’re not getting busy at the right time. Learn how to tell when you’re ovulating to help predict when you’re most fertile.

Take a look at your pregnancy history

If you’ve had multiple pregnancy losses, premature delivery or complications in previous pregnancies, talk to your practitioner about any preventative measures you can take now.

Check your family tree

Get the scoop on the health history on both sides of the family tree (you and your partner’s). It’s especially important to find out if there’s a history of genetic or chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or fragile X syndrome. 

Schedule a preconception visit

Book a preconception appointment with your doctor or midwife to make sure you’re in top baby-making shape. Also check that you’re up-to-date on essential vaccinations (like the ones for chickenpox and measles, mumps and rubella). 

Seek genetic screening, if necessary

If you have a family history or are at risk of certain genetic diseases, ask your practitioner at that prenatal visit about getting a carrier screening before trying to conceive. A family history of cancers, especially at a young age, is also a reason to seek genetic consultation.

Get treated

If any test in your checkup uncovers a condition that requires treatment — from a health condition like high blood pressure to a sexually transmitted disease — make sure to take care of it before trying to conceive. That includes any gynecological conditions that might interfere with pregnancy (such as uterine polyps, fibroids, cysts or tumors; endometriosis; pelvic inflammatory disease; or recurrent UTIs).

Control chronic illnesses

If you have diabetes, asthma, a heart condition, lupus, epilepsy or any other chronic condition, be sure you have your doctor’s okay to get pregnant. Your condition should be under control before you conceive.

Avoid environmental hazards

Some chemicals — though far from all and some only in very large doses — are potentially harmful to your eggs and, later, to your developing baby. So take special care if you work in certain fields (like medicine, dentistry, art, photography, transportation, farming, landscaping, construction, hairdressing, cosmetology, dry cleaning and some factories). Check out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the latest info on job safety and pregnancy.

Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation

If X-rays are necessary for medical reasons, make sure your reproductive organs are protected.

Make over your diet

What you eat matters even before you have a bun in the oven. Find out which foods to eat more of and which ones to cut back on as part of a healthy pre-pregnancy diet.

Check your weight

Being underweight or overweight can affect your fertility. Get your weight in check to give you and your future baby the healthiest start possible.

Work up a sweat

Getting physically active can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress and help soothe future pregnancy-related aches. Learn how to begin (or continue) exercising while trying to conceive.

Sleep well

Skimping on shut-eye may make it more difficult to conceive. See how sleep affects your chances of conception — and then try to make a goal of seven to nine hours a night.

Eliminate any vices

Some things, like smoking or excessive alcohol or caffeine, can have a negative impact on fertility. Get help to quit smoking, avoid marijuana, stop drinking and reduce your caffeine intake.

Check in with your dentist

A visit to the dentist before you get pregnant is almost as important as a visit to the doctor. That’s because your future pregnancy can affect your mouth — and vice versa.

The American Dental Association (ADA) says that the gum disease gingivitis may be more common in pregnancy due to hormonal changes, which can mess with the way the gum tissue responds to the bacteria in your mouth.

Untreated gum disease during pregnancy has been shown to increase your risk of complications like preterm birth and preeclampsia. While you’re there, be sure to have any necessary work (like X-rays, fillings or dental surgery) completed now so it won’t have to be done during pregnancy.

Start looking for a prenatal practitioner

Choosing a practitioner for your pregnancy is easier now than when you’re due for your first prenatal checkup. If you aren’t sure you want to stick with your regular OB/GYN, find out your options in terms of types of prenatal practitioners, then schedule an interview with a few.

Start taking your prenatal vitamin

Every woman should take one, preferably at least two months before trying to conceive. Here’s what to look for in your prenatal vitamin.

Scan your medicine cabinet

If you’re regularly taking any drugs (prescription or otherwise) regularly, be sure to check with your doctor that those medications are safe for preconception and pregnancy. He or she may suggest switching to another that’s better for expecting women.

Also get your practitioner’s okay to continue any vitamins or herbal supplements you’re popping. Too much vitamin A, for example, can be dangerous during pregnancy.

Don’t forget your partner 

Your partner’s health and lifestyle also play a role in whether or not you’ll get pregnant. See what can be done to increase male fertility.

Toss your contraceptives

Obviously, birth control makes getting pregnant difficult if not impossible. Here’s when to stop birth control — and how long it takes for fertility to return.

Be nice to yourself 

This is perhaps the most important step of all! Of course, you’re excited about getting pregnant — and, more than likely, a little stressed too. But stress doesn’t help your conception efforts. The fix: Try relaxation exercises (yoga counts!), meditate and cut down as much as possible on stress in your daily life.

Sure, you know the basics of how to get pregnant, but having all of the relevant information at hand when you’re trying to conceive is smart. If you take your age into account and keep a close eye on your health, your goals of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby are definitely within reach.