There are many myths regarding pregnancy. One of them is that you cannot get pregnant on your period. The thing is that, whether you wish to avoid pregnancy, or you want to conceive, you have to be acquainted with the way in which the fertility cycle works. This is what we’re going to focus on today: we’ll tell you more about the fertility cycle, and how this impacts your period and the likelihood of conceiving.
However, before we delve into this topic, we would like to mention that it is quite unlikely to get pregnant during your period. Even so, unlikely doesn’t equal impossible. It all comes down to this, though: understanding the women’s fertile window.
How do we define menstruation? Basically, menstruation entails the loss of blood. This marks the end of the ovulatory cycle, and it happens on a monthly basis. Your period indicates that the egg released by the body during the fertility period wasn’t fertilized.
Before the release of the egg, the hormone levels inside a woman’s body change. The purpose of the hormones is to prepare the lining of the uterus for the fetus, in the case in which the egg is fertilized by sperm. Nevertheless, if the egg isn’t fertilized, the lining of the uterus is, therefore, sloughed off. This is what we refer to as period or menstruation.
Generally speaking, a woman’s period can last from two to eight days, depending on several aspects. At the same time, it happens every 21 to 34 days. As a rule of thumb, the release of the egg – namely the ovulation – occurs in the middle of the fertility cycle. This actually marks the peak of your fertility cycle, being the time in which you are most likely to conceive.
Understanding How Conception Occurs
A woman’s possibility to conceive will depend on her fertility window. In order for conception to take place, a man’s sperm has to meet with a female’s egg. It’s worth pointing out that after the woman releases an egg, its lifespan ranges from 12 to 24 hours. Essentially, the egg doesn’t survive if it isn’t fertilized by a man’s sperm.
At the same time, the sperm can live for up to five days in a woman’s body, namely inside the fallopian tubes, granted that the conditions are favorable.
The thing is that, in order to facilitate conception, the egg has to be fertilized within 12-24 hours once it has been released. Otherwise, it will simply disintegrate.
What should you know, though, about a woman’s fertility window? Essentially, a woman’s fertility window is rather small – of roughly five to seven days. Your fertility window usually starts five days before the actual ovulation, ending on the day of the ovulation.
In regard to the post-ovulation phase, also known as the luteal phase, it starts approximately 12 to 16 days after the menses start. During this specific timeframe, the chances of conception diminish with the rise of the progesterone hormone. This actually signals the ovaries to stop releasing the eggs for a month. At the same time, the cervical mucus is likely to dry up, creating a barrier that deters the sperm from reaching the uterus.
When Does Ovulation Occur?
Moving on, we could say that the likelihood of getting pregnant depends on when the ovulation occurs. It’s as simple as this. According to the textbook rules, ovulation takes place on the 14th day of the fertility cycle. That is to say, 14 days after the first day of your period. Ovulation means that the woman’s ovary releases the egg for fertilization.
So, if we were to consider this textbook cycle, then the fertile window would usually last from day 9 until day 14. In the case in which your menstrual cycle is regular, it is quite unusual and unlikely to get pregnant during your period.
On the other hand, if your menstrual cycle is rather long and, on top of that, irregular, this makes it quite difficult for you to point out the actual fertility window.
The thing is that most women don’t ovulate on the 14th day of the fertility cycle, as each woman’s body functions differently. In fact, statistically speaking, approximately 30 percent of women have a fertility cycle that addresses these clinical guidelines.
Every Woman Is Different
In essence, the greater majority of women have menstrual cycles that are usually longer or shorter than 28 days. At the same time, you should note that the earlier you ovulate, the earlier your body will release the egg for fertilization. That’s because the fertility window begins five days before the actual ovulation process.
Now, granted that you ovulate on the eighth day of the cycle, as opposed to the fourteenth day, then the fertility window starts on day three – namely in the middle of your period. What does this mean? There is the tiniest chance that you can get pregnant during your period.
That is to say, if your fertility cycle is shorter than normal, then the ovulation starts earlier.
Nevertheless, we would also like to highlight that not all fertility days are the same. To be more precise, the days that are closer to the ovulation days feature a higher likelihood of conception than other days. This makes sense, doesn’t it?
For example, if you were to have intercourse the day before the ovulation, then, in the best-case scenario, the likelihood of getting pregnant is 30 percent. In the meantime, having intercourse five days before the day of the ovulation features a lower incidence rate, of roughly five percent.
Therefore, even if you were to ovulate during your menstruation, the actual chances of conceiving during those days are still quite slim. So, granted that you want to conceive, then the likelihood of doing that during your menstruation isn’t high. On the other hand, if you don’t want to conceive, then you should be careful about having unprotected sex during your menstruation, especially if your fertility cycle is short. Even if the chances are slim, they are still there, and there’s no such thing as being too careful if you’re not in for big surprises.
At the same time, there are some women that deal with spotting or bleeding between periods. This can make it quite confusing for you to establish a clear line in your menstrual cycles. In fact, you might be tempted to believe that this is actually your period when it really isn’t. To that end, establishing the length of the menstrual cycle can be quite difficult. In this scenario, you cannot point out the ovulation period, making it possible for you to get pregnant during your period.
What about Getting Pregnant Right after Your Period?
Now let’s move on to another common question regarding conception: can you get pregnant after your period? Yes, the chance of getting pregnant after your period does exist. After your period ends, you are moving closer to the fertility window – namely the ovulation. Now, in the case of a 28 to 30-day cycle, the fertility window is somewhere between day eleven and day twenty one.
Since the sperm can live in the fallopian tubes for up to five days, if you have sex right after your menstruation ends, you are steadily approaching the fertility window.
For example, let’s say that your menstrual cycle ends on the sixth day. On the seventh day, you have sex. In the case in which the ovulation takes place on the 11th day, there is a slight chance that the sperm might still be inside the fallopian tubes. Evidently, the likelihood of conception right after your period diminishes with every day after the bleeding has stopped.
Now, if you want to conceive, then this is the perfect timing to start having sex, as this will maximize the odds of conception.
Can You Conceive before Your Period?
Moving on, is there any chance of getting pregnant before your period? In this respect, the likelihood of conception is quite little, especially in the case in which you have a regular cycle between 28 and 30 days. In this scenario, the ovulation occurs between day 11 and day 21. Considering that the egg can be fertilized only up to 24 hours after being released, the chances of conception are rather low.
Hence, the days before your period are the safest for having sex without worrying about conception, granted that your cycle is regular. At the same time, bear in mind that the number of safe days for having sex before your period is reduced in the case of shorter cycles.
If you know for sure when your ovulation occurs, then the possibility of conception afterward is minimal. As you move further from the ovulation, the chance of conception diminishes. Hence, if you want to conceive, this isn’t the right time to do that.
Some Precautions Regarding Birth Control
In the event in which you want to get pregnant, then having intercourse during your menstruation isn’t likely to help in this respect. The only exception to the rule is when your fertility cycle is shorter than 28 days. Of course, there is always the tiniest chance of conception, as a woman’s body isn’t programmed like a machine, so to speak.
On the other side, if you don’t want to get pregnant, we advise you to use protection each time when you have intercourse with your partner. However, note that using birth control pills won’t safeguard you from sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore, if you want to protect yourself from these conditions, it is highly advisable to use a condom during intercourse.
What Else Should You Know?
Irrespective of the time of the month when you choose to have sex, keep in mind that there is always a slight chance to get pregnant. Many women who haven’t considered using a birth control method have learned this, even the ones that were on the pill. That’s because there isn’t a birth control option that is 100 percent efficient. This is something to bear in mind, in the case in which you aren’t looking to conceive in the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, the highest likelihood of conception is, obviously, during the ovulation period. It would be worth arguing that this is when you are most likely to conceive, whereas the smallest chance of conception is during your menstrual cycle. This is why most people assume that you cannot get pregnant if you have sex during your period. And the reason why this happens quite seldom is that most people have a long cycle, and in order for this to happen, you must have a short cycle. This makes it primordial for every woman to know when she is ovulating. This way, she can determine whether she is likely to get pregnant when she is menstruating or not.
The Bottom Line
To conclude, considering that each woman’s menstrual cycle is different, it is basically impossible to point out whether you can get pregnant on your period or not – at least not 100 percent.
Of course, we can still make assumptions depending on the length of the fertility cycle, for example, and use them as guidelines. At the same time, even if pregnancy isn’t much likely to occur in the earlier days of the menstruation, in the later days, the chances are definitely higher.
Granted that you’re trying to conceive and that hasn’t happened, it is best to consult with a specialist. In this way, you can point out whether there is a need for treatment or not. On the other hand, it’s always best to play safe, in the case in which an unexpected pregnancy isn’t on your agenda.
We hope that our article has clarified this controversial topic for you. We wanted to make it as comprehensive as possible so that you can truly understand the way in which your body works. Now, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.