The answer to this question, as the answer is to many things involving women’s bodies, is that it depends. Theoretically, if your period is stable and consistent, the answer will usually be no. In general, it is very unlikely that you could get pregnant in the week before your period.
However, it is possible.
To understand how it is possible to get pregnant the week before your expected period, it helps to understand more about the menstruation cycle.
In general, you can only get pregnant during the fertile window, which are the days of your period where there is an egg available to be fertilized. During your menstrual cycle, the egg is not always available and hanging around, waiting for sperm. Once the bleeding days of your period is over, you enter into a series of of days where there is no egg available to be fertilized.
Then, after receiving signals from the body in the form of hormones, the egg is released from the ovary. It travels down the fallopian tube. It enters the cervix. Once it arrives, there is a short window at that point where, if sperm is in the vicinity, conception could occur.
To get pregnant during the fertile window, you don’t have to actually have relations with someone right when the egg is present. Sperm can hang out and swim around in your body for up to 5 days. However, once the egg is released, it must be fertilized within 24 hours or conception during this cycle will not occur. This is why some websites state that there are only six days a month that you can get pregnant.
Your cycle is regulated by the hormones in your body. Your body releases hormones to promote ovulation. If the egg is not fertilized after it is released, the hormone levels in your body drop, The parts of your body that prepared for potential conception get ready instead for the menstruation.
28 Days Is Only A General Estimate For The Length of a Cycle
Woman are often told that ovulation and the fertile window are consistent. When you read about menstruation, it is common for you to see or read information confirming that the menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. The literature also tells you that ovulation generally occurs around day 14, meaning that if you ovulate on day 14, your period ill begin 14 days later if the egg is not fertilized.
In general though, menstrual cycles are not a consistent length or frequency. Some women experience a cycle as short as 25 days, while others experience one that is as long as 36 days. The truth is that only a small percentage of women have cycles that are exactly 28 days. Further, one in five women have cycles are irregular. Finally, only 10% of women in ovulate on day 14.
Most women don’t understand what causes menstruation to begin on a certain date. The date you start to bleed is actually established by the date you ovulate. Once your body ovulates, a series of steps are set into motion. In most women, the amount of time it takes for the egg to leave the ovary and travel down to the cervix is consistent. The same is true for how long the egg is available to be fertilized, and then after that when the egg is not fertilized, how many days it will be before the woman’s period begins.
What varies in women and causes the irregular cycle, is the time between the end of menstrual bleeding, and ovulation.
In my own personal experience in the past, I have worried near the end of my menstrual cycle that perhaps stress I was experiencing near the end of my cycle cause my body to hold off on having my period, and the more stressed out I got, perhaps the longer it would take for my period to arrive. I know now from having done my research that I was wrong. If stress was impacting my period or my cycle at all, it was because I experienced something on or around or before ovulation that impacted my body. Stressing out about when my period was going to arrive did nothing to extend the cycle at all.
And right here, THIS is the key. If you ovulate inconsistently, or you experience something that impacts the date you ovulate, and causes it to happen later in the month than normal, then YES, you can get pregnant in the week before you expect your bleeding days to begin.
All Kinds of Things May Impact the Timing of Ovulation
And none of us know for sure all of the things that do it.
In any given month, you may experience something that causes you to ovulate later than normal. Medications can impact ovulation, such as antidepressants, thyroid medication, and steroids. Breastfeeding can impact your ovulation date and so can PCOS.
Stress is also a frequent culprit in causing late ovulation, though doctors aren’t exactly sure how this works.
In conclusion, if your body ovulates on day 14, and you have a consistent 28 day cycle, then in any given month, you will have no chance of conceiving a child the week before your period.
But what many women experience is LIFE.
In LIFE, ovulation doesn’t always occur consistently because life doesn’t occur consistently. And because we don’t have control over the things that happen to us in our lives, we can’t control the length of your cycle or when an egg is released to be fertilized.
For this reason, it is actually possible to get pregnant the week before your period arrives. In that situation, your period was going to end up being late, but you never knew it because you got pregnant instead.
Before you go, check out another article written by one of our many Mom Advice Line contributors:
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- Teaching Number Sense To Toddlers
- What Is A Senior Center? (info for adults with aging parents)
- Helping Your Gifted Child Through Kindergarten
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, ages 8, 6, and 3. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the screen when the kids are occupied. She can be reached through the Contact Us page.