Most heterosexual couples will get pregnant within 1 year if they are having regular sex and not using contraception.
But there are a few things you and your partner can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Regular sex will help you conceive
Frequent sex is the best way to get pregnant. This means having sex every 2 to 3 days.
The most likely time to get pregnant
You are most likely to get pregnant if you have sex around the time you ovulate (produce eggs).
If your cycle is 28 days long, ovulation usually happens around 14 days before your next period.
It can be difficult to know exactly when ovulation occurs, so the best advice is to have frequent sex.
Get a health check
You are more likely to get pregnant if you are both in good health.
If you or your partner are planning to get pregnant, it is a good idea to visit your GP for a health check. This is important if you have any health problems or are taking any medication.
Take folic acid
Take folic acid if you are trying to get pregnant - ideally for 3 months before you get pregnant and during the first trimester.
The usual dose if you're trying to get pregnant is 400 micrograms, taken once a day.
Folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects. These include spina bifida.
Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying excess weight or having underweight can mean you are less likely to get pregnant or get your partner pregnant. This is because your weight may stop ovulation.
Men who have a healthy weight produce better quality sperm.
If you carry excess weight, losing 5% to 10% of your body weight can improve your chances of becoming pregnant. Aim to lose this weight gradually, over 3 to 6 months.
Ways to manage your weight include:
- lifestyle changes, including eating well, being active and sleeping well
- managing other health conditions you may have
- looking after your mental health
If you have obesity, your GP may also prescribe medicines or recommend weight loss surgery to treat obesity.
Your body mass index (BMI) may give you an estimate of whether your weight may affect your ability to get pregnant.
Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.
How to get your height in metres squared
Multiply your height in metres by itself. For example, if you are 1.75 meters tall, then you would multiply 1.75 by 1.75.
If your BMI is less than 18.5, you are at risk of having underweight. If your BMI is 30 or above, you are at risk of having obesity.
Obesity and underweight can mean you are less likely to get pregnant or get your partner pregnant.
Get help to quit smoking
Smoking can lower your chances of becoming pregnant. Women who smoke are more likely to have fertility problems and take longer to conceive. Smoking can also damage a man’s sperm.
Eating well helps you manage your weight and improve your health.
Eating well means that you:
- eat regularly and spread out your meals and snacks
- eat nutritious foods
- understand your appetite
Your GP may refer you to a dietitian if they think it will benefit you. They can support you to eat better.
Be physically active, but not too much
Regular moderate activity is good for your body and your mind.
Avoid very intense exercise as this may lower your fertility. For example, athletes training for marathons may notice that their periods stop.
Keep your stress levels low
Stress can affect your sex drive and this can mean you end up having sex less often. It can also affect sperm production. When trying to get pregnant, relaxing and avoiding stress can help.
Review any drugs you take, legal or illegal
Illegal drugs can reduce your fertility and are dangerous during pregnancy.
Some medicines are not safe to take during pregnancy. Some of these may also reduce your fertility.
Before trying to become pregnant, talk with your GP or pharmacist about any medicines or supplements you are taking.
Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea reduce your chances of becoming pregnant.
If you have chlamydia or gonorrhoea, talk to your GP. They can prescribe antibiotics to treat them.
Practice safe sex if you are not trying for a baby. Use a condom each time you have sex.