When should you start trying to get pregnant?

Because the fertility of women declines, many women who want children want to know at what age they should try to get pregnant to have a good chance of having the family they want.

Maximum female age at which women should start trying to get pregnant for 1,2, or 3 children and for a 50%, 75% and 90% chance of reaching the desired family size with and without using fertility treatment

Habbema, J. D. F., Eijkemans, M. J. C., Leridon, H., & te Velde, E. R. (2015). Realizing a desired family size: when should couples start? Human Reproduction, 30, 2215-2221. By permission of Oxford University Press.

Graphic 4 shows a chart of when a woman would need to start trying to get pregnant to have the number of children she wanted. To use the chart you need to know:

  1. The size of family you would like (e.g. 1, 2, or 3 children)
  2. Whether you would be willing to use fertility treatments (e.g. IVF) if you or your partner could not become pregnant naturally
  3.  Your desired certainty that you will achieve the family size you want (e.g. 50%, 75%, or 90% sure)

For example, the green numbers show that if a woman wanted to be 90% certain that she would have at least 3 children without ever using fertility treatment, then she would need to start trying for a family at 23. But, she could start aged 36, if she was willing to use fertility treatment and have a lower certainty (50%) of having 3 children (see blue numbers). Women (and their partners) can use this chart to decide when to start trying to get pregnant. If you know you have fertility problems that can be overcome with fertility treatment then look at the ages with fertility treatment (with IVF). Such a chart does not yet exist for men.

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