No matter whether you are trying to conceive or you are interested in how to avoid pregnancy while having sex, one of the most common questions is whether or not you can get pregnant during your period.
If you are also wondering this, you should know that you are not alone. Although many people are convinced that you can’t conceive on your period, it’s actually a common misconception. It is true that chances of getting pregnant on your period are very small, but there is still a possibility for it to happen.
So, the answer to our question from the title of this text is both yes and no. In order to explain this concern in detail for better understanding, we will have to see some other concepts related to it. First of all, let’s define a period.
What is a period?
A period is something that every healthy woman experiences during her reproductive age. It refers to the blood loss that occurs at the end of an ovulatory cycle if an egg wasn’t fertilized by a sperm.
At ovulation, a“fertility window” that is open around day 12 to day 14 of the cycle, a woman releases an egg into the fallopian tube around day 14 of her ovulatory cycle. Before this happens, the hormones in a woman’s body dramatically increase to prepare and thicken the lining of the uterus in case the fertilization and a pregnancy occur.
However, if a fertilization doesn’t occur, your body sheds both the lining of the uterus and the egg about 14 days afterwards (you are bleeding). This process is called a period. The majority of women have two-to-eight days periods and they take place every 26 to 34 days. The ovulatory cycle of most women lasts for about 28 to 32 days, from the first they of the period to the first day of the next period. And they also have the period which lasts two to eight days. These women are highly unlikely to get pregnant during their period.
However, there are also many women who do not follow this average ovulatory cycle. Let’s see what happens then.
Special circumstances and exceptions
The main problem lies in the fact that the egg can survive for 24 hours after you ovulate and sperm can survive inside a woman’s body for up to five days. Because of all this, it’s possible for a woman to get pregnant five days before ovulation and a day after. As it has been already pointed out, in most cases ovulation usually occurs 14 days before the first day of the next cycle. This means that if your cycle is 28 days long and your period lasts for a week, you have a week between the last day of your period and the first day of your ovulation.
However, what happens if you had sex on the last day of your period and you start to ovulate a few days earlier? In that case there could still be a sperm inside your body and you can conceive. Even if a woman has an average 28-day cycle, the day she starts ovulating may vary from month to month, and because of this you can never be sure whether or not the sperm from the sex you had during your period will be viable by the time your ovulation starts again.
Can I get pregnant during my period if my cycle is irregular?
If you are among those women who have an irregular cycle, it’s more difficult for you to exactly predict when you will ovulate. This means it may be even more difficult for you to avoid having sex close to that time.
Here are a few examples of this:
Your ovulatory cycle is short. There are some women whose cycle is 21 days long and they still ovulate. This means thhat they don’t have much time left between the last day of their period and the day they start ovulating. Since sperm can survive inside your body for five to six days, if you happened to have sex on your period and then ovulation occurs two or three days later, that sperm may certainly fertilize your egg.
Your period lasts for a long time. Your body may slowly shedding non-fertilized egg and the uterine lining, but while this is happening, your next egg that is ready to be fertilized can show up and you already become fertile again. Of course, this means that in these circumstances you can get pregnant during your period.
You have spotting or breakthrough bleeding during ovulation. You may mistake this bleeding for a true period, especially if your periods are light or irregular. And it occurs when you are the most fertile and therefore most likely to conceive (since you have just ovulated).
Can I get pregnant right after my period?
Your chances of getting pregnant right after your period are very high since you are starting to move towards your fertility window, which usually starts to open between day 11 and day 21 on a typical 28-to-30-day cycle.
As already mentioned above, sperm can live up to five or six days inside a woman’s body and if your period (bleeding time) lasts for five to seven days and you have sex right afterwards, you can easily get pregnant because your fertility window becomes closer. The closer this fertility window is, the bigger chances are for you to conceive. As an illustration to all this, let’s see one example. Suppose your period ends on day 6, you have sex on day 7, and start ovulating on day 11. In that case it’s possible that the sperm from the sex you had on day 6 is still viable in your body. If you are trying to get pregnant this is an ideal time to start having sex. And if you practice having sex every other day for the next 14 days, your chances to conceive will be much bigger.
Can I get pregnant right before my period?
While you are very likely to get pregnant right after your period, it’s fairly safe to say that the probability of conceiving right before you start bleeding every month is almost zero. This is especially true for women with regular cycle of 28 to 30 days or longer since the ovulation occurs between day 11 and day 21, as already noted.
This means that having sex in the days right before your period are the safest option for you if you are trying to avoid pregnancy. The number of these “safe days” right before your period increases with longer cycles and decreases with shorter ones.
If you still don’t want to get pregnant, you should know exactly when you ovulated and wait for 36 to 48 hours before having sex. Your chances for conceiving decrease with moving away from ovulation.
The time right before your period isn’t the best option if you are trying to get pregnant, but it’s the safest if you just want to enjoy being intimate with your partner.
In the case you had unprotected sex on your period and you think that you might be pregnant, symptoms like mild cramping in the lower abdomen, spotting (implantation spotting, a very common cause of bleeding when the egg has been fertilized), breast tenderness and moodiness may confirm your doubts since they may appear as early as two weeks after you ovulated.
After six or seven weeks pay attention to symptoms of pregnancy that are more common, such as nausea, vomiting and severe fatigue.
If you decided that it’s time for a baby, having sex during your period isn’t the best option since, as already pointed out, your chances of getting pregnant aren’t too big.
However, there is still a possibility, as it’s also true for any other time of the month. That’s why you should use contraception all the time unless you are trying to have a baby.