Ever been told you won’t get pregnant while you’re having your period? Then, you may be surprised to know it is possible! While contraception has come a long way, with easily available methods ranging from female condoms to birth control pills, a whopping 49% of all pregnancies are still unintended. This is why it’s critical to know how conception works, including while you’re on your period.
How Likely Are You To Get Pregnant During Menstrual Period?
It also becomes harder to pin down exact ovulation dates if you have irregular cycles. This could be due to conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or other problems like obesity or eating disorders that can meddle with your hormones.
While an egg shouldn’t normally “live” in your body when you’re having your period, you could ovulate early and get pregnant. As the American Pregnancy Association explains, it is possible to ovulate even without a period occurring. Ovulation itself can be affected by a change in routine, stress, or illness.
Pregnancy during menstruation could also depend on the life of the sperm that has entered your body. A sperm can live far longer in the body than you’d imagine – reportedly, as long as 3-5 days in some instances. If the sperm is viable, it can fertilize the egg even several days after you’ve had intercourse.
This could mean conceiving as much as 3 to 5 days after you’ve had sex even with a regular 28- to 30-day cycle. So even if you ovulate several days later, if the sperm is still alive and well and penetrates the egg, it could cause pregnancy.
So if you’re trying to avoid accidental pregnancy, use a barrier method or any other contraceptive method you would normally use.
If you’re someone who has a shorter cycle, say 21 to 24 days, you could ovulate a little earlier in your cycle than women with a standard 28- to 30- day cycle. If that’s the case, you could end up conceiving not just during but even after your period. This again is because sperm can live in the woman’s body for as long as 3 to 5 days in a moist and favorable environment. The shorter circle may mean you ovulate faster. So if the sperm is already in, viable, and waiting, the egg that’s released could get fertilized even if a fair bit of time has passed since intercourse.
Mistaken Identity: Ovulatory Bleeding Not A Period
Sometimes, ovulation may be accompanied by a slight bleed also known as mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding. This can be mistaken for a period. You may then end up having sex at your most fertile time because you think you are having a normal period.
How To Be More Accurate About Pregnancy During Your Period
Understand Your Cycle
The first step is becoming familiar with your menstrual cycle. Not everyone falls perfectly into the 28- to the 30-day slot. In fact, the Office on Women’s Health explains that a normal cycle can vary from 21 days to 35 days. Even the duration before ovulation can go from 13 to 20 days. Most women get their period between 14 and 16 days after they ovulate. Keep in mind the lifespan of the sperm to be sure you do not have unprotected sex around the time an egg is released or for a few days after.
Chart Period Dates
You should ideally do both of the above along with another step – tracking the exact dates of your period on your calendar. Then, follow these steps to find your fertile period.
- Pin down the most fertile days by subtracting 18 from the number of days in the shortest cycle you have had.
- Add this result to the start date of your next period and mark that with an X on your calendar.
- Now, subtract 11 from the days in your longest cycle and add this number to the start date of your next period with another X on the calendar.
The window you arrive between these two “X” marks will be your most fertile days.