“Overwhelming.” “Exciting.” “Challenging.” What Trying to Conceive Is Really Like, According to Our Community

“Overwhelming.” “Exciting.” “Challenging.” What Trying to Conceive Is Really Like, According to Our Community

The decision to start a family is highly personal—and the road to get there can look different for everyone. Yet when surveying nearly 1000 members of our community about their TTC experience, we were struck not by the individuality of these different journeys but just how much they had in common. When we asked, for example, what they wished others knew about fertility, one answer rang out again and again: “It’s not as easy as we’re taught.”

After all, so many of us were assured that without contraception, pregnancy was a near-certain byproduct of unprotected sex—an accident just waiting to happen. (For all that our formative sex education lacked in meaningful detail about, say, our menstrual cycles, it overcompensated in scare tactics.) 

So imagine our surprise and disappointment when the possibility of an “accident” evolves into the possibility of something wonderful—and yet it doesn’t happen as immediately as we were told it certainly would. When the narrative we’re raised with starkly contrasts our reality, it’s easy to feel frustrated and alone. But the hundreds of heartfelt and vulnerable responses we received are a testament to the fact that there’s so much shared experience in embarking on this journey; in all its successes, twists, and heartbreak. And the best way to empower ourselves with the knowledge and clarity to navigate this chapter is exactly that: sharing our experience.

Keep reading to learn what else we uncovered in our TTC survey.

68% of women struggle to find joy in the babymaking process. 

It’s more stressful than joyful,” says one respondent. “While tracking everything is supposed to help our chances, it’s a lot.” 

The truth is it’s difficult to embrace any spontaneity when we’re focused on the mechanics of getting pregnant—tracking ovulation, optimizing habits for fertility, scanning for every possible symptom during the Two Week Wait. It’s why reproductive psychiatrist and Perelel panelist Dr. Sarah Oreck, MD, emphasizes that prioritizing your mental health while TTC should be just as much of a focus as say, taking prenatal vitamins.

94% of respondents said that they take a supplement to support their fertility, but only 42% of their partners do, too. 

A friendly reminder that fertility is 50/50: Statistically, male factors and female factors play an equal role in conception outcomes. “Men should take on the same lifestyle changes as women,” notes naturopathic doctor and Perelel panelist Dr. Caitlin O’Connor, ND. “Sperm has a 3 to 4 month lifespan, so sperm that leaves the body today went into production 4 months ago.”

So just as you’re prioritizing your health and taking your vitamins, your partner should be doing the very same if they aren’t already—that shared proactivity is crucial.

Shop the Article:

60% of respondents said that they believed that sex ed had failed them when it came to learning about the realities of TTC. 

I wish that fertility was discussed more from a younger age in schools,” said one. What’s more: Even as adults, 49% of respondents said they found the bulk of their TTC info online, versus 32% from a doctor, and 10% from educational resources.

We also asked participants to share some of the most common myths they’ve heard about trying to conceive.

MYTH: “Just relax and it’ll happen.” (Not exactly helpful.)

MYTH: “A woman can get pregnant almost any day of the month.” (The fertile window lasts roughly 6 days.)

MYTH: “After 35, it’s impossible to conceive naturally.” The so-called “fertility cliff” is actually a gentle slope. (FWIW, the age factor was one of the most common myths our respondents named.)

And as for what they wish others knew about the TTC journey?

“There’s a lot more that goes into trying to have a baby than just having sex.”
“Both partners’ health matters.”
“Everyone ovulates at a different time.”
"It's emotionally taxing."
“How to prepare your body.”
“It’s not fair.”
“Not everyone is on the same timeline.”
"It's  scary, exciting, overwhelming, joyous, and some days has even seemed impossible. It has been a wealth of emotion I'm so grateful for; grateful to be alive and having this experience."


Want more support on your fertility journey? Check out our Conception Support Pack*—formulated by leading fertility doctors to support pre-pregnancy, and Fertility+ Support—made by two of the country's leading fertility doctors for those fertility journeys that may need extra support. And don't forget to check out our doctor-backed content on TTC—from finding your fertile window to the best foods to eat for conception.