Conceiving, conception or falling pregnant is rarely as simple as just having sex. Many factors must line up for a man's sperm to successfully fertilise an egg.

Unassisted conception – that is, via intercourse – relies on specific timing and processes within a woman’s body. Women release an egg roughly once during their menstrual cycle – usually 14 days before their period. Because sperm can survive up to five days inside a woman, you should time your sex accordingly.

Most women who are actively trying to conceive will fall pregnant within one year of trying. However, a range of factors can complicate this and some women may need to take more time or explore options for assisted conception. Some of these include in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), ovulation induction, surrogacy, surgery and sperm donation from a non-partner donor.

Fertility and you

Conception is associated with fertility, which is understood as the likelihood of conceiving. Age is a contributing factor to fertility, with fertility declining in women from 32 years of age and dropping to half by 40.

You may be able to increase your chances of conception if you and you partner engage in good lifestyle and behavioural choices, such as healthy eating, maintaining a healthy body weight, and undertaking exercise.

Some of the behaviours you and your partner should avoid to improve your chances of conception include smoking, drinking alcohol and taking recreational drugs. If you are taking prescribed drugs and are trying to conceive, you should seek medical advice.