Can You Get Pregnant During Your Menstrual Cycle?
The probabilities of getting pregnant while on your period depends on a variety of factors. So, whether you’re trying to start a family or steering clear of starting one; it’s safe to say that while it’s unlikely to get pregnant on your period- it’s not impossible.
For those using their menstrual cycle as a form of birth control, should know that this isn’t a reliable form of contraception because you can still get pregnant. While women are less fertile during this time of the month, under certain conditions, conception could still occur.
But how can someone get pregnant during a time where our body is signaling that we’re not? Don’t we shed our eggs when we’re on our period? How can you get pregnant on your period?
The answer lies in understanding the menstrual cycle and fertility.
Understanding Ovulation and Fertility
A baby is first introduced to the world when a male’s sperms meet a female’s egg. In order for this to happen, the egg must be released which is a process known as ovulation. Once the egg is released, it has to be fertilized by sperm within 12 to 24 hours or it will dissolve.
Conception is a fairly complex process because it requires perfect timing as women only have a limited window of opportunity to get pregnant. This window of opportunity is called a fertile window.
While men are fertile every day, a woman’s fertile window only lasts six days per cycle. Sperm can survive up to five days in the fallopian tubes. When the egg is released it has to be fertilized within 24 hours.
Combine the lifespan of both the sperm and egg and you get a fertile window of six days; starting five days before ovulation and the first day of ovulation. Now, what does the menstrual cycle have to do with ovulation and fertility?
Can You Get Pregnant Right Before Your Period?
According to our high school sex-ed textbooks, ovulation occurs 14 days after the first day of the menstrual cycle. A woman’s fertile window - the days where sex can lead to pregnancy- lasts from day 9 - 14.
The earlier you ovulate, the earlier your fertile window will be. Since the fertile window starts five days before ovulation, if you ovulate earlier your fertile window will begin right in the middle of your period. Keep in mind that ovulation differs from woman to woman and all fertile days aren’t created equal.
The days closer to ovulation has a higher chance of pregnancy than the days further from it. Having sex on the last day of your period caries a 30% chance of pregnancy. While having sex four days before your period has ended has less than a five percent chance of pregnancy.
Which means, that even if you ovulate early in your menstrual cycle for your fertile window to begin in the last days of your period, the chances of getting pregnant are not very high, according to our expert at BHRC.
What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant While on Your Period?
This has been a long debated question, reason being is because this question really doesn’t have one straight answer. Getting pregnant while on your period is unlikely but it is not impossible because it depends on when ovulation takes place.
Ovulation ranges from woman to woman, just like the menstrual cycle does. You can only get pregnant from having sex on your period if you ovulate early in your menstrual cycle or if you have irregular periods that last longer than five days.
If you have irregular periods caused by a hormonal imbalance or an overactive thyroid, it’s a bit harder to estimate when you’re ovulating - meaning that it can be harder to avoid pregnancy while having sex closer to your fertile window. Women whose menstrual cycle is 27 days or less are more likely to have fertile windows that start during their period.
The bottom line: Although it is unlikely, you can still get pregnant while on your period. Chances of getting pregnant on your period are low, but chances are higher if you ovulate early in your cycle or if your periods last longer than five days. So, unless you’re deciding to start a family, it’s always a good idea to be attentive about contraception.