Is It Possible To Get Pregnant During Menstruation? Not Likely but Possible!
You are probably here because you had unprotected sex while you were still having your period. You thought it was a "safe" time, but now you are concerned about the possibility of getting pregnant. While you can get pregnant at that time, it isn't likely. It all depends on how your cycle works.
How You Get Pregnant - The Bare Bones Basics
It is surprising how many women do not fully understand the mechanics of getting pregnant. For the majority of women, their menstrual cycles are 28 days long. Menstrual bleeding is only the beginning of the full cycle.
Finding out how long your cycle is, is easy. All you need to do is count the days between when two previous periods started. Most women have cycles that are between 23 - 35 days long.
Having unprotected sex around the time you are ovulating can result in you getting pregnant. For women with a 28-day cycle, ovulation usually happens around day 14 or two weeks before your next period starts. The possibility of getting pregnant is present if you have sex during days 11 to 15 of your cycle.
Let’s take a look at what happens in a woman’s body. At ovulation, your egg travels into the fallopian tubes. Ovulation occurs at about 14 days before a woman’s period starts.
This is your most fertile period and the time that you have the highest chances of getting pregnant. This is the only time during the month that you will be able to get pregnant. Ovulation is the key here though, not the cycle day. If you have had sex around the time you ovulated, you can end up pregnant.
The egg travels to the uterus (or womb) and can be fertilized anywhere along the route. The life of an unfertilized egg in the womb is a short one, and in the absence of conception, menstruation will come next. Menstruation is when your uterus sheds its lining, and you bleed.
Ovulation and Your Cycle
Ovulation is an integral part of a woman's monthly menstrual cycle. You can only get pregnant if you are close to ovulating or have just ovulated.
During ovulation, your ovary releases a mature egg into the fallopian tube. Fertilization of the egg can happen only a day or so after ovulation. After that, the egg begins to disintegrate. If there is sperm there to fertilize the egg, it will then travel to the uterus and implant. If the egg is not fertilized, it leaves the woman's body during menstrual bleeding. Your period will start about two weeks after ovulation.
Ovulation has three distinct phases: pre-ovulation, ovulation, and post-ovulation. These are sometimes called the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase.
The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstrual bleeding and continues until ovulation. As your period progresses and your hormones change, the eggs in the ovary prepare for release. The uterine lining begins to thicken, and you will notice changes in your cervical mucus. For the first few days following your period, you will not see much of a change in the cervical mucus. When you are ovulating, the mucous becomes stretchy and clear and resembles raw egg whites.
The next phase is the actual ovulation phase. You can calculate the ovulation phase by starting with the first day of the last menstrual period. Most women ovulate sometime between day 11 and day 21. Some women will notice a slight twinge of pain in the abdominal area while ovulating, but many others don't recognize any other symptoms. The typical length of this phase is from 24 to 48 hours and is when a woman is fertile.
The luteal phase begins on the day of ovulation and lasts until the start of the next period. On average, the luteal phase is 14 days long but can be between 10 to 14 days long. During this phase, the pituitary gland releases LH or luteinizing hormone, which is the precursor of ovulation. If an egg is fertilized, it then implants into the uterus. If not, the egg slowly stops producing hormones. The uterine lining breaks down and your cycle will restart with menstrual bleeding.
The average woman has a 28-day cycle and will ovulate around day 14. Unfortunately, these numbers are not set in stone for every woman. Some women have longer or shorter menstrual cycles and may have a shorter luteal phase. If a woman has a 32-day cycle, and a luteal phase that lasts 12 days, she will ovulate on day 20 of her menstrual cycle.
If You Have a 28 Day Cycle
The chances of getting pregnant during your period are minimal if you have a 28-day cycle.
If you aren't sure how long your cycle is, you can calculate the length if you know when your period started during the last two months. As long as you have regular 4 to 7-day menstrual bleed, you should not be fertile during that time.
Having Sex During Your Period Can Result In Pregnancy IF...
While uncommon, it is possible to get pregnant from having sex during your period. Cycle length and how long the menstrual bleeding lasts can play a part in an unexpected pregnancy. It all comes down to a numbers game.
Women usually will ovulate about 14 days before their next period starts. If your cycle is shorter in length than 28 days, there could be an increased chance of getting pregnant from having sex during your period.
For example, let's say your cycle lasts 25 days instead of 28 days, and your period bleeding lasts for six days. Healthy sperm can survive up to 5 days after ejaculation in the woman's reproductive system. If ovulation occurs 14 days before your period is due, it would happen on day 11 of your cycle.
If you had sex on day 6 of your period bleeding, the sperm could potentially survive until day 11, ovulation day. Having the sperm present and waiting at the time of ovulation could most definitely end up in a pregnancy.
Another time when you could get pregnant from period sex is when you have irregular cycles. When a female is in the early and late years of menstruation, her cycle often varies from month to month as well. Any of these reasons, combined with unprotected sex, makes it possible for a woman to get pregnant during her period.
Length and variation in the menstrual cycle--a cross-sectional study from a Danish county. Münster K, Schmidt L, Helm P Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1992 May;99(5):422-9.