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Whether or not a woman can get pregnant while on her period has been a debate topic for decades. On one side, the chances of becoming pregnant during a period are slim, but possible. On the other, is it a true period or something else?
There are generalities about the basics of menstruation and pregnancy, but every woman’s hormonal balances and menstrual cycles are different.
Women ovulate. Then the egg moves through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. If sperm is present, given the right conditions, fertilization takes place. An unfertilized egg may live for 24 hours and if it’s not fertilized during this time, it and the uterine lining are shed during the next menstrual period.
Ovulation typically takes place, on average, about 14 days before the start of a woman’s monthly period. Even for women with regular periods, this timing or duration can vary month to month. A woman's cycle can be altered due to stress, hormone or weight changes. Many women have cycles which last as little as 22 days or as long as 35 days.
Since women have very different cycles, many experience bleeding that’s not actually a period between their cycles. Stress, illness and many other things can cause bleeding that is easy to mistake for a period. If it’s not actually your time of the month, you could get pregnant.
Women who are not menstruating because of low body weight, breastfeeding, perimenopause or illness or medications may experience ovulation at any point. If they’re ovulating, they can become pregnant.
Besides misleading vaginal bleeding, the life term of sperm is another reason why it’s possible for women to get pregnant during their periods.
Sperm can survive for an average of three to five days inside a woman’s body. If sperm are deposited early, during a woman’s period, they could wait around a few days until conditions are right for conception. A woman is most likely to become pregnant if sexual intercourse occurs just before or just after ovulation. The egg itself, however, can only live for about a day once released. If a woman ovulates soon after her period, then conception could take place from intercourse that occurred during her period.