Can You Get Pregnant On Your Period?

In today’s article from Mom Advice Line, we are answering the question put to us by one of our readers. The question of the day is, can you get pregnant on your period?

The answer to this question is yes, you can get pregnant on your period.

But not in every case!

Please read on to understand how this could work and why it is that you may or may not want to worry about engaging in unprotected intercourse on your period.

woman holding a cell phone sitting next to a window

Understanding how conception occurs

First, to gain a full understanding of how it is possible to get pregnant on your period, it is necessary to understand how conception occurs and what is necessary for conception to occur.

In general, a woman is not fertile the entirety of her cycle. In fact, most women are only fertile for about 24 hours in a cycle that can be as short as 25 days and last as long as 36 Days.

In most cases, a woman must have physical relations with a man around the time that the egg leaves the ovary and travels around the Fallopian tube. In general, the egg does not get released from the ovary during a woman’s period, meaning the bleeding days of the cycle.

Instead, the egg is generally released a handful of days after the bleeding days of your period conclude. As such, it is generally for this reason that most women do not conceive a child during the bleeding days of their period.

Blame the man…

But here is the kicker, the little known fact that throws a wrench into this. A man’s sperm can survive for up to 5 days inside a woman’s body after it arrives there.

Thus, if you have relations with a man during the bleeding days or shortly after, and that sperm finds very hospitable conditions inside the cervix, then it may be there and ready and waiting when the egg is released from the ovary and travels down the Fallopian tube.

You may think that you’ve avoided any danger of pregnancy by avoiding relations during ovulation (especially if you are tracking it with over-the-counter ovulation detectors). But these detectors don’t take into account the virility of the man’s sperm.

woman looking into a mirror at herself

In general, you can’t in most cases get pregnant during the bleeding days of your period because there is no egg to be fertilized. But, relations during the bleeding days of your period can lead to a pregnancy because the sperm can hang out and chill and wait for an egg to arrive.

This is not a common occurrence, but it can happen and this is the reason why we would not recommend that you engage in physical relations that are unprotected if you are not actively looking to conceive a child.

Women don’t have control over how hospitable the conditions are inside of you for sperm. And the man has no control over how long his sperm may remain viable.

Further, there isn’t anything you can really do to make sure that the sperm doesn’t hang out. Having your period doesn’t mean that the whole system “flushes” itself out or anything. Things move through in the normal course, but when we are talking about sperm (tiny, tiny little guys), even though it might seem like business is normal down there, they can still be chillin’ out.

This is why the Rhythm Method is bad birth control

Another thing to be wary of if you are practicing what is known as the Rhythm Method is that the timing of ovulation can vary greatly. Doctors routinely repeat the canned information that a normal menstrual cycle is 28 days and women ovulate on or about the 14th day.

This information is tragically inaccurate for most women, as only a small number of women have a cycle that last 28 days and an even smaller number of them ovulate consistently on day 14.

Depending upon external factors, such as stress, medications, or even medical conditions cause PCOS or hormonal deficiencies, ovulation can bounce around dramatically in any given month or may not even occur.

If you are banking on the fact that you did not ovulate until day 14, and use that 24-hour window around day 14 as your method of avoiding conception, you may be gambling with an unwanted pregnancy.

Added to this, is the unknown viability of sperm once it is released into the cervix, and just how long it takes the egg to travel down the Fallopian tube to the service itself. It is for this reason that the Rhythm Method is considered one of the least effective versions of birth control.

While I have not experimented with this method for birth control, I do know of several women who made assumptions about the date of ovulation to excuse unprotected sex late in their cycle. One of my really good friends got pregnant like this and her husband did not believe that he was the father, due to the strength of his belief in the misconception that ovulation happens on a specific day (and only that day).

This led to some pretty serious trouble in their marriage, which was only settled when tests were done to confirm the parentage of the child.

Yes, I’m serious. (and that guy is a jerk)

woman lying on a couch under a blanket

When does your cycle actually begin?

Another thing about having relations on your period or directly after is that most people don’t realize that the cycle, meaning day one of the supposed 28 days, begins the first day of bleeding cycle.

If you ovulate on day 14 of your cycle, that means that the 14 days includes the days that you were actually bleeding. So if you have a extra-long bleeding time, sometimes as long as seven to 10 days, you could actually ovulate at the end of the bleeding days or right afterwards.

It is fairly common for women to ovulate as early as day 8, 9, or 10, and if you aren’t aware that the calculation of 14 days includes the bleeding days, and you may think that you are safe if you have relations near the end of your bleeding or right afterwards.

It is for this reason that it is also not safe to have relations in the bleeding days or in the first few days after your bleeding days because you may already be ovulating.

If you want to use the Rhythm Method…

Consider aiming for the period AFTER ovulation. While the man’s sperm can last an unknown number of days, in general, and almost consistently, the woman’s unfertilized eggs cannot last more than 24 hours. It is fairly easy to track ovulation using thermometers or via hormones.

If you can establish in a given month that ovulation has already occurred, then you are probably in the clear for the remainder of the month.

However, as I said before, I really don’t find that the Rhythm Method is one that I would want to rely upon. There is just too much going on with our bodies that we can’t control at all.

I really hate that women are forced for the most part to rely upon chemical birth control as the safest and most effective method that they can control. I really struggled with birth control pills (they made me act like a crazy person).

Though, it is nice to see capitalism and entrepreneurship in action as more and more products are coming to market with women in mind (menstrual cup, reusable period underwear, etc).

If waiting to get pregnant is something that is really important to you, then you should explore other more reliable ways to avoid getting pregnant if abstinence is not an option.

Can you get pregnant one day after your menstral cycle?

For the reasons stated above, YES, you can. Not always, but it is possible. This could occur if you ovulate early in your cycle, either as something you do normally or because your body was off for whatever reason and decided to throw an egg early.

Can you get pregnant two days after your period?

Again, as stated above, YES, it is possible to get pregnant two days after the bleeding days of your cycle end.

Getting educated about our bodies is so important

I love that you are reading this post, and seeking information instead of just shrugging your shoulders and hoping for the best. In this day and age, women have more information available to us than ever. And we have no excuse for not knowing the answers to questions we have about our bodies and reproductive systems.

Don’t be afraid to share what you have learned with others. We spend so much time hiding behind our phones instead of talking with other women and sharing with other women–information, experiences, expertise.

I know it is embarrassing (at least at first) but the more we do it, the easier it will get. And you might really help someone.

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