I can’t be pregnant, can I?
Can you get pregnant on your period? This is something that many women have asked, especially if they have become pregnant unexpectedly. Sometimes, the question is also posed by women who are trying to avoid falling pregnant, and are wondering whether it is safe to have unprotected sex during their period.
It is certainly possible to get pregnant during your period, although it is unlikely. Becoming pregnant during your period is more likely if you have a short menstrual cycle, or experience particularly long periods.
What happens during the menstrual cycle?
In order to get a better understanding of how it is possible to become pregnant during your period, some knowledge of the menstrual cycle will be useful.
- The menstrual cycle is considered to start on the first day of your period, and this is referred to as day one. The average menstrual cycle lasts for twenty-eight days, though this can vary widely between different women.
- Ovulation (release of an egg cell from the ovary) generally occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle, anywhere between day 12 and day 16. Sometimes, a sharp pain can accompany ovulation, although not every woman will experience this.
- The egg cell, or ovum, can survive in the Fallopian tube for approximately twenty-four hours after it has been released, and if it is not fertilised during this time, it will be lost during your next period, along with the lining of the uterus.
Many women actually have a menstrual cycle that is considerably shorter than twenty-eight days; some can be as short as twenty-two days. This increases the chances of you ovulating just after your period has ended.
The average period lasts for between five and seven days, though sometimes they can be as long as ten days. Longer periods increase the chances of you ovulating just as your period is ending, and this makes it more likely that you could become pregnant as a result of unprotected sex during your period.
What is breakthrough bleeding?
Breakthrough bleeding is not a period. However, many women do assume that the two are the same, and will frequently mistake breakthrough bleeding for a period. It is sometimes known as spotting, and can occur around the time of ovulation. This means that you may be having unprotected sex during your most fertile time of the month. Keeping track of when your periods occur is the best way to avoid this, as it will help you to identify which instances are breakthrough bleeding rather than an actual period.
Is there a “safe” time of the month?
The short answer to this is no, there is no safe time of the month to have unprotected sex. You can become pregnant at any point during your menstrual cycle – before, during and after your period. The timing of ovulation is not exact, and depends on the precise levels of oestrogen and luteinising hormone that your body produces each month (these are the hormones that lead to ovulation occurring). It is also important to remember that sperm can survive in your body for up to seven days after you last had sex. This means that, even if you had sex during your period, the sperm cells may still be viable when you ovulate, several days later. This can lead to pregnancy, even when you thought it would be safe.
The only way to ensure that you prevent pregnancy is to use a reliable method of contraception, as unprotected sex at any time carries the risk of falling pregnant.
- can you get pregnant on your period
- can you get pregnant during your period