What Are The Odds Of Getting Pregnant?

get pregnant
Image via Chaunie Brusie/ J & J Brusie Photography

After having three children in four years, I admit that sometimes, I am a little afraid of my husband looking at me the wrong way. Because it seems like that’s all it takes for my body to fall pregnant yet again.

Some women struggle with the pain of infertility while others seem to become pregnant very easily, so it seems safe to say that there is no rhyme or reason to that little thing called the miracle of life.

But just how much of a miracle is getting pregnant? Isn’t it something our bodies are designed to do?

Well, the answer may surprise you. 

Aside from factors such as a woman’s age, weight, genetics, and health factors, the first obstacle is getting the timing right. You and your partner have to have sex on just the right day; a woman can typically get pregnant around days 14-18 of her cycle. Outside of that, she doesn’t have an egg to be fertilized.  And even if conditions are prime time for baby making, although 300 million sperm may be released during sex, only 3 million of the little guys make it into the uterus for a chance at fertilizing an egg. That’s less than 1 percent! The life span of sperm is also limited. Sperm can only survive for up to 48 hours and it takes 10 hours alone for the sperm to reach a woman’s fallopian tubes, which is where fertilization occurs.

Next, sperm basically face an obstacle course of mighty proportions before they can reach their prize. The fallopian tubes are nearly a foot away from the opening of the vagina; in other words, miles and miles for the tiny sperm.

A woman’s body seems designed to make it as hard as possible for the sperm to survive the long trek to the fallopian tubes. First, the natural acidity in the vagina kills off many sperm and the cervix blocks and traps many of the survivors.

During ovulation, usually only one ovary releases an egg, so once the sperm have made it to the uterus, should they choose the wrong path, they are goners as well.

The sperm that choose correctly immediately face another battle as hair-like fibers and muscle contractions of the fallopian tube beat back the swimming sperm in an attempt to block their passage. Many sperm get trapped in the walls of the tube and even more succumb to white blood cells that act like bodyguards, literally attacking and killing stray sperm.

In the end, out of 3 million sperm, a hundred obstacles, and just the right conditions, only a few sperm will make it to the egg. Despite all of the obstacles, one report states that for couples in the optimal conditions, there is a 1 in 20 chance of getting pregnancy from one act of intercourse. 

Phew!

Who knew baby making was such hard work? 

{ MORE: How Long Does it Take to Get Pregnant After Birth Control? }

Did you have any difficulty getting pregnant?

 

What do you think?

What Are The Odds Of Getting Pregnant?

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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12 comments

  1. Profile photo of Jo Jo says:

    My husband and I decided to start a family 5 years after we got married.
    We got pregnant first time when I was 32, then 34, 36 and 40, respectively.
    All four times we conceived on the very first time we tried.
    I did not know that conception can be so challenging.

  2. Profile photo of Jennifer Jennifer says:

    I myself had the hardest time getting pregnant and when I did I lost 4 pregnancies within the first eight weeks. That was years of trying after my son was born and he’s 10 now. Being with my boyfriend now of three years, he has diabetes and severe nerve damage, which caused him to have retrograde ejaculation issues. The Dr prescribed him imipramine and it helped but not 100%. Well December came around, he took only three days of his pills, I noticed signs of going through my ovulation phase and don’t you know after a year and a half we became pregnant! Those chances were absolutely slim. We’re now entering the second trimester next week 🙂

  3. Profile photo of CM CM says:

    I was 34 when I got pregnant right away after just once or twice of trying. I was really surprised how quickly it happened. We’re trying again now but no luck yet. I figure if it’s meant to happen it will and if not then that’s okay too. For anyone trying to get pregnant but having trouble I suggest seeing a doctor or gynecologist for tips if you have been trying for more than 6 months and still no pregnancy. Just don’t stress out and go crazy trying to conceive that you get depressed about it if you don’t.

  4. trying for 2 months and no sucess

  5. Profile photo of Brittney Brittney says:

    I believe it’s hard I’m 26 yrs old and I just got pregnant for the first time ever but lost my baby at 7 weeks.

  6. Profile photo of Samantha Samantha says:

    I got pregnant fairly easily with my oldest and with my miscarriage. My youngest however took over 5 years to conceive

  7. Profile photo of mary ribbink mary ribbink says:

    Well i was tell that you can get pregnant five days after you have your baby I don’t know if that’s true or not. My friend says she is one mouth pregnant and her baby is only 6 weeks old can she really pregnant?

  8. I feel bad for the sperm. Poor little guys.

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