It's Unlikely, But it Can Happen
Many people have wondered and asked, “can you get pregnant on your period?” Contrary to what you may think, yes, you can get pregnant if you have sex while on your period. While it is unlikely, there is a chance that it can happen. Educating yourself and understanding menstrual cycles is important when it comes to fertility.
Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle
Your chance of getting pregnant is highest during your fertile window, which occurs when the ovary releases an egg through a process referred to as ovulation. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, with ovulation typically occurring from 7–19 days after your last period. Once the egg is released it moves to the uterus, where fertilization may take place. The egg is only viable for 12–24 hours after the ovulation process, so the sperm must fertilize the egg during this time.
If you normally have a 28-day menstrual cycle, you usually won’t ovulate until about a week after bleeding stops. Throughout your period, your body releases blood, tissue from the uterine lining, and an unfertilized egg. On average, bleeding lasts for roughly five days, but it’s very common for bleeding to be shorter or longer. That being said, you would not typically conceive during your period. However, it’s not that simple; there are three important factors that must be taken into account:
- The length of your menstrual cycle
- The lifespan of sperm in your body
- Changes in ovulation timing from month to month
Cycle length fluctuates greatly between people, and even within an individual. For this reason, periods that arise every 24–38 days are considered “normal.” If you have a shorter cycle, you’ll likely ovulate closer to your period compared to those with longer menstrual cycles.
It’s hard to tell with precision when you’re within your fertile window due to the wide disparity in the length of menstrual cycle, along with the timing of ovulation. What’s more, sperm can survive within your body for 3–5 days, meaning that you can conceive even if you have sex five days prior to ovulation.
Some researchers claim that engaging in a sexual act on the day prior to ovulation can have the same odds of becoming pregnant as having sex several random times during a menstrual cycle.
Can You Get Pregnant Immediately After Your Period?
Yes, you can become pregnant immediately after your period. Once your period ends, you start to draw closer to your fertile window. In a regular cycle that occurs every 28 days, your fertility is usually highest from day 11 to day 21.
As stated earlier, sperm can stay in your body for up to five days. If bleeding ends on day 6, you have sex on day 7, and you ovulate on day 11, the sperm from the day 6 will still be present for fertilization to take place.
Of course, the probability of you becoming pregnant after your period rises with every day that passes after your bleeding has ended. If you want to conceive, this is the perfect time to have sexual intercourse. Having sex regularly for the next 14 days improves your chances of getting pregnant.
Can You Become Pregnant Before Your Period?
The odds of conceiving before your period are significantly lower. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, you can say with confidence that your ovulation occurs from day 11 to day 21. Given that the egg only survives for 12–24 hours, you can say that the safest time to have sex, with minimal risk of getting pregnant, is right before your period.
If you know precisely when your ovulation took place and you wait for at least two days (48 hours) before having sexual intercourse, then your chance of pregnancy is significantly decreased. The probability of conceiving decreases with each passing day past your ovulation day.
When Should You Try to Get Pregnant?
If you’re trying to get pregnant, the best time to have sex is two days before the start of your ovulation, or on your ovulation day, which is when the ovary releases an egg. This process usually takes place around 2 weeks before the beginning of your next period. However, the day of ovulation varies from person to person, so you should monitor for signs of ovulation. Here are reliable techniques for predicting your ovulation.
- If your menstrual cycle is regular, an ovulation calculator can help you identify when you are extremely fertile each month.
- Keeping track of symptoms of ovulation, including fluctuations in your body temperature as well as cervical mucus.
- Utilizing an ovulation predictor kit.
While it’s possible for you to become pregnant while on your period, it’s unlikely. That being said, it can happen. The odds of getting pregnant during your period depend on a few factors including your menstrual cycle length, ovulation, and when you have sexual intercourse.
These factors make it difficult to determine the accurate timing and length of your fertility window. This, and the ability of sperm to survive within your body for 3–5 days after intercourse, makes the use of contraception the only sure way of avoiding pregnancy.