If you haven’t learned much about your fertility cycle, you may be wondering if you had unprotected sex while on your pregnant if it is possible to get pregnant. So, let’s get right down to it and answer “Can you get pregnant on your period”? Technically speaking, you can’t get pregnant during your period.
However, that doesn’t mean sex during an apparent period is safe. It’s important to understand your fertile window and know fi you have regular cycles or irregular periods.
Modern technology has given us many effective ways to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, many myths about sex and pregnancy still persist.
You may have heard that douching with cola after sex prevents pregnancy by killing sperm, that sperm can’t reach the uterus if you have sex with the woman on top, or that ovulation can’t occur if the woman doesn’t orgasm – all myths perpetuated by uninformed teenagers or even well-meaning adults.
What determines if you get one of those positive pregnancy tests in a few weeks or not is when you had sex, where you were in your cycle, and how close you were to your fertility window.
Pregnant During Your Period?
One common belief is that you can’t get pregnant during your period. Unlike most contraception myths, this one is technically correct.
However, both the myth and common attempts to contradict it are based on unhelpful, even potentially dangerous, misconceptions about how the menstrual cycle works. The real explanation is much more complex and reveals how different the menstrual cycle can be from woman to woman.
Learn more about your menstrual cycle and the different phases that you go through and find more about your fertile days and when your day of ovulation is.
Simplistic Understanding of Periods
The idea that you can’t get pregnant during your period is rooted in the simplistic model of the female menstrual cycle, which is commonly taught in school health classes.
But honestly, when you’re learning about it, most of the kids take it all as a joke, not something they really need to be understanding and comprehending.
What really happens and is important to understand is the following.
The uterine lining builds up to prepare for a pregnancy (this is what happens after you finish your period, leading up to ovulation); ovulation (the release of a mature egg cell) typically occurs on day 14 of the cycle, and if no pregnancy occurs, a period begins on day 28 to get rid of the uterine lining that had been building up over time to become a good host for a viable pregnancy.
In truth, few women have regular, 28-day menstrual cycles with regular ovulation on day 14. Some women have longer cycle length or shorter cycles; others have cycles that vary in length. Ovulation may occur closer to the beginning or closer to the end of the menstrual cycle.
When it happens closer to the beginning or even father along in those longer cycles, this also impacts egg health. If you find that you’re an early or later “ovulater”, you may want to get your egg health checked to see if you need any supplements to help support a possible pregnancy, if that is your goal.
Women also experience different symptoms of ovulation. Common signs include changes in cervical fluid or cervical mucus (produced by the cervix, which connects the uterus and the vagina), increased basal body temperature (your body temperature taken as you first wake up), and abdominal cramps.
Some women also feel the physical act of ovulation of the egg being released from the ovary in the woman’s body. This is called Mittelschmerz. It’s a German word for abdominal pain associated with ovulation.
Another symptom, however, is vaginal bleeding. Some women only bleed lightly during ovulation, but others bleed so much that it feels like a regular period; therefore, they may not realize that they are ovulating. This is often the “period” people refer to when they say women can become pregnant during their period. Perpetuating such a misconception is unhelpful. You must be careful, however, to recognize the signs of ovulation and understand that bleeding does not always indicate a period.
That is part of why understanding and tracking the length of your menstrual cycle is so important. When trying to avoid pregnancy or even trying to get pregnant, if you have sex close to your ovulation date you have a better chance of pregnancy than having sex without any method of birth control right before or during your period.
So you can get pregnant during vaginal bleeding, but you cannot get pregnant during your period because no egg is there waiting for an interception from the sperm.
However, you can get pregnant from having sex during your period but only under special circumstances.
This is because sperm can live for up to five days in a woman’s uterus, waiting for ovulation to occur. (The egg itself, however, can only live for about a day once released.)
So, if somehow the timeline lines up that you ovulate earlier in your cycle and you have unprotected sex late in your period and the sperm happens to live the full 5 days, conception can occur.
It may or may not result in a healthy pregnancy- again, due to egg quality and then the quality of the sperm if it had to live for the full 5 days or not.
According to a study by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences, about 2 percent of women ovulate only four days after the end of their periods.
If your ovulation is earlier than average, having sex towards the end of your period can possibly result in pregnancy after your period is over, if you were to ovulate four to five days later and the sperm was at optimal health by day 5 to still be able to produce a viable pregnancy.
Having sexual intercourse during your period – or what appears to be your period – is not a surefire way to prevent pregnancy. If you have used natural family planning methods to determine when you typically ovulate, however, you may find that your period is a safe time to have sex.
Understanding how your body and your menstrual cycle works, rather than predicting fertility from average cycles, myths, and misconceptions, is helpful no matter what birth control method you choose to employ.
The best way to prevent pregnancy is to not only track the length of the menstrual cycle to help find out the timing of ovulation, your fertile period for the length of your cycle, but it’s also to use an effective form of birth control.
Birth control pills are an option, an IUD, the shot, or other options are helpful in preventing an unwanted pregnancy.
Using emergency contraception like the morning after pill, or plan B, is also important to have handy if you have a mishap in your normal prevention measures.
If you are trying to prevent pregnancy, we always recommend tracking the first day of your period so you can learn more about when your ovulation day is.
You can use hormone test kits to help predict when you would be most fertile, and you can use an ovulation calculator to help keep track.
If you find yourself unsure of any of this, always reach out to your fertility specialist. All fo this information discussed above is provided straight from research we have done. We are not doctors. Always consult your doctor with any medical related questions, problems or circumstances. This should not be taken as medical advice- ever!