Have you ever wondered if it is possible to get pregnant during your period?
You are not alone.
The possibility of getting pregnant while menstruating is a frequently asked question.
To answer this question, you must first understand how the menstrual cycle works.
Each woman of reproductive age has a menstrual cycle, and the purpose of this cycle is to prepare the body for pregnancy.
The likelihood of getting pregnant varies at different points in this cycle. Read on to learn more.
The menstrual cycle and ovulation
A normal menstrual cycle lasts between 23 and 35 days. This menstrual cycle length varies from woman to woman, with an average of 28 days per cycle.
The first day of the woman’s period is counted as day 1 of her menstrual cycle, and the day before her next period is considered as the last day of her cycle.
The reproductive organs in a woman’s body that participate in ovulation, menstruation, and pregnancy include:
- The vagina. This is a canal that connects the outside of the female reproductive tract (the vulva) to the inside (the cervix).
- The cervix. This serves as an entrance to the uterus (womb) from the vagina.
- The uterus. This is where implantation occurs, and a fetus grows.
- Fallopian tubes. They are two in number, and their job is to connect the ovaries to the womb.
- Ovaries. They are also two in number. They house millions of tiny eggs.
During the menstrual cycle, there is a hormonal interplay that causes certain changes in the reproductive organs with the main aim of preparing them for a possible pregnancy.
This occurs in four phases – the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase.
We talk more about the four stages of the menstrual cycle below:
This is the period during which you see your menstrual flow. Before the menstrual phase, your body prepares itself for pregnancy by thickening the lining of your uterus to make it more favorable for a fertilized egg to attach itself and grow.
If pregnancy does not occur, this lining is shed and comes out of the vagina as a mixture of blood, mucus, and tissue.
The number of days your period can last varies in women. The normal days are between 3 and 7 days of flow.
This phase also begins on day 1 of your cycle. As such, it overlaps with the start of the menstrual phase. But it lasts longer (up to day 13 or 14).
During the follicular phase, there is a release of a hormone called estrogen. It stimulates the ovaries to recruit eggs that undergo a series of maturation processes.
However, one egg eventually becomes mature (there are rare cases in which two eggs mature).
Ovulation happens when a matured egg is released from an ovary and into a fallopian tube. This usually occurs around day 14 in a woman with a 28-day menstrual cycle.
If your cycle is less or more than 28 days, your ovulation day may occur earlier or later than 14 days (between 7 and 19 days).
Once an egg is released, it can only survive for about 24 hours. If sperm reaches the fallopian tube at this time, pregnancy may occur.
Pregnancy can also occur if you have unprotected sex about 3-5 days before your ovulation day because sperm can remain alive in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days.
After ovulation has taken place, the area from which an egg was released (the corpus luteum) starts to release a hormone called progesterone along with some amount of estrogen.
These hormones cause a thickening of the lining of the womb to prepare for pregnancy.
If there is no fertilization, the corpus luteum dies, and the levels of the hormones drop. This sudden drop in hormones is what leads to a shedding of the lining of the womb. Then, the cycle begins again.
Can you get pregnant if you have sex on your period?
The chances of getting pregnant during your period are low – but it is possible. Pregnancy is more likely to happen at certain times of your cycle and less likely during others.
It is sometimes tricky to ascertain these times, especially if your cycle is not regular. Just keep in mind that while the probabilities differ, having unprotected sexual intercourse at any point in your cycle may result in pregnancy.
The chances of getting pregnant while you are on your period largely depend on:
- The length of your cycle
- The day of your ovulation
- How long the sperm cells survive in your reproductive tract
A woman who has a regular 28-day cycle (or longer) is not likely to get pregnant while on her period.
This is because her ovulation day will be some days away from her period. This makes the chances of her getting pregnant during her period slim.
However, if you have a shorter cycle (between 21 and 24 days), ovulation will occur earlier in your cycle (between 7 and 10 days).
So, if you see your menstrual flow for 5 days, you may ovulate as soon as 2 to 5 days after it ends.
Remember that sperm can survive for up to 5 days in the reproductive tract. If you have unprotected sex toward the end of your period, surviving sperm cells can fertilize an egg that is released early enough.
What are the chances of getting pregnant while on your period?
There is a low chance of getting pregnant while on your period. However, if you have a shorter menstrual cycle and a higher number of days of menstrual flow, your chances of getting pregnant increase in the later days of your period.
Pregnancy is not likely to occur during the first days of your period.
Can you get pregnant on your period if you’re on birth control?
If you are taking birth control the right way, it is very difficult to get pregnant while on your period. Most methods of birth control are very effective when they are used correctly.
For example, the chances of getting pregnant while on the pill are less than 1% if it is used the right way.
When is the least likely time to get pregnant?
It is less likely for pregnancy to take place on the days before and during your period. For someone with a 28-day cycle, you have about 21 days in which you are least fertile. That is from the time 2 days after ovulation to during your menstrual period.
On the other hand, the days around ovulation are known as the fertility window. These are around days 10 to 16 of a 28-day cycle. These are the days in which you are most fertile.
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Here are some frequently asked questions related to pregnancy and being on your period:
Can you get pregnant right after you have your period?
If you have unprotected intercourse at any time during your menstrual cycle, there is a chance that you could get pregnant. Some people have short menstrual cycles and may ovulate within a few days after their period has ended. In such people, having sex right after their period can result in pregnancy.
Can you get pregnant right before your period starts?
Although there is a possibility of getting pregnant a few days before the day your period is supposed to start, it is not likely.
This period is outside your fertile window, and the probability of getting pregnant is slim. If you do get pregnant, you will likely not get your period. You may experience light implantation bleeding instead.
How many days after my period can I get pregnant?
There is a high chance of pregnancy occurring during the fertile window. These are the days around your ovulation time (before, during, and immediately after ovulation). The fertility window can last from 6 to 10 days. It varies from individual to individual.
If you are healthy and have normal ovulation, you could get pregnant right after the end of your period. It is even possible to be in the fertile window while on your period.
Can you get your period while pregnant?
Once pregnancy occurs, you will not get your period because the corpus luteum will continue secreting hormones that maintain the lining of your uterus and support pregnancy.
Basically, the menstrual cycle is paused to allow pregnancy to continue. However, people who are pregnant may experience some bleeding in both early and late pregnancy.
This could be a little spotting, light bleeding, or heavy bleeding – depending on the cause.
While bleeding may be normal, it may also be a warning sign of something being wrong with the pregnancy. It could come with some symptoms similar to periods, like cramping, back pain, and weakness.
Here are some causes of bleeding in pregnancy:
Causes of bleeding in early pregnancy (first trimester)
- Implantation bleeding
- Cervical changes
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Molar pregnancy
Causes of bleeding in late pregnancy (second and third trimester)
- Labor (preterm or at term)
- Abruption of the placenta
- Placenta previa (a low-lying placenta)
- Uterine rupture
- Vasa Previa
If you suspect that you are pregnant, the best way to be sure is to take a pregnancy test. Once you discover you are pregnant and you have bleeding that is heavy or persistent, contact your ob-gyn immediately.
Can you ovulate while on your period?
It is possible to ovulate while on your period if you have a shorter cycle and a long duration of menstrual flow. For example, if you have a 21-day cycle, ovulation should occur on day 7. So, if your menstrual period lasts for up to 7 days, you may ovulate on the last day of your period.
Pregnancy can occur at any time during the menstrual cycle if you have unprotected sexual intercourse.
The chance of getting pregnant while menstruating is low, but if you have sex during your period, it is possible.
However, there are days in which you are more fertile – and thus more likely to get pregnant – than others.
The length and sequence of events that occur during the menstrual cycle vary from woman to woman.
If you’re hoping to get pregnant, having a good understanding of your menstrual cycle will help you plan around the best time to conceive.
If you don’t want to get pregnant, it is best to discuss with your healthcare provider about contraception and choose one that is a good fit for you.