Dear Father Hood: we’re trying for a baby. How long should it take?


If you’re asking me about the sex, then the latest studies suggest that the average bout of love-making lasts 5.4 minutes from penile penetration to ejaculation. If you’re asking about the pregnancy, then most women go into labour between week 38 and week 42. And if you’re asking me about the conception, then allow me to quote NHS Choices, which says:

“Most couples (about 84 out of every 100) will get pregnant within a year if they have regular sex and don’t use contraception. However, women become less fertile as they get older. One study found that among couples having regular unprotected sex:

  • aged 19-26 – 92% will conceive after one year and 98% after two years
  • aged 35-39 – 82% will conceive after one year and 90% after two years

Having regular sex means having sex every two to three days throughout the month.”

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. That quote says it can some couples two years or even longer to conceive. Surely, that’s a joke? Sadly, it’s not. And, even more distressingly, if you are trying for a baby for this length of time it will seem a lot longer. How do I know? I know because the six months it took my sperm to swipe right on my wife’s eggs felt more like a year.

My experience of trying for a baby

There were several reasons for this. There was my excitement, expectation and impatience – when we decided we were going to try and have a kid I wanted it to happen right away and was hurt when it didn’t. There were all the questions from our friends and family – mid 30s + recent marriage = barely a day passing without someone mentioning the ‘B’ word. There were the seemingly never ending pregnancy announcements – sure I smiled and stated how happy I was for all the couples involved, but inside I was thinking, ‘Why you? What makes your reproductive organs better than mine?’ And there was the sense of helplessness – we were doing everything we could and yet it still wasn’t happening. Was there something wrong with us?

Actually totally normal

Looking back, two things strike me about our ‘struggle’. First, things would have been a lot less stressful if I’d taken the time to look up the stats. Second, things would have been a lot less stressful if I’d plucked up the courage to talk to my friends. Why and, um, why? Well, if I’d looked up the stats, I’d have discovered that taking 6-12 months to get pregnant is perfectly normal and we weren’t actually engaged in a struggle after all. And if I’d talked to my friends, I’d have discovered that they’d been trying for a few months and weren’t actually superhuman sperm bots after all.

Would either of these things have made the second line appear on my wife’s pregnancy test any sooner? Absolutely not. But they would have made me feel less like a failure. And while I can’t categorically say that this mental boost would have stopped me from sitting down and reading the riot act to my testicles on a bi-weekly basis, I can unequivocally state that it would have made less anxious and that this would have made each of our 8.9 minute ‘let’s make a baby’ sex sessions seem less like a chore.

The bottom line

You’re right. That is 3.5 minutes above average, but my love-making prowess is just one of the things I want you take from this article. The other is that when it comes to trying for a baby, there is no such thing as should or will. It can take anything from one day to multiple years to procreate. So if you’re just about to embark on the baby-making journey, stay calm and be prepared for it to take a lot longer than you originally imagined. And if you’re a few months into the voyage, stay positive, remember the stats and repeat after me… “Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen at all.”


  1. After reading those stats, I went “whoa whoa whoa” too. But it was about the “regular sex” being every 2-3 days thing. Ummmm…ok. I’m going to guess they talked to young people without kids for that one.

    The time it takes to get pregnant is different for everyone and varies so much based on so many factors. I think a lot of people, who are otherwise healthy and have no fertility issues, could cut back on the time it takes just by doing a better job of timing sex. But you’re right, even if it’s only a few months, it feels sooooo long. It’s totally nerve wrecking.

  2. Hahaha I love the part where you said “my sperm swiped right on my wife’s eggs” I am still laughing. It definitely does take a while. I absolutely hate the pressure of family, friends and society in general of when we should have kids. The added stress does not help!

    Second time round trying, I can’t be bothered counting days anymore. Can’t be bothered guessing when I’m ovulating. It takes the fun away from being intimate with my husband. I hate it.

    This time, I am just gonna run with it. If it happens, it’ll happen!

    This time, I’ve learnt not to tell my parents and my in laws until we’ve finished the first trimester!!!!

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