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Can You Get Pregnant On Your Period?
When you are on your period, it is easy to assume that a quick unprotected sex session would be safe. However, this common assumption (or rather misconception) has led to many surprise pregnancies. Is it possible for fertilization to occur while you bleed? Can you get pregnant on your period?
The short and simple answer is yes. Yes, you can get pregnant during your periods. Your fertility may not be at its peak, but pregnancy is possible during the menstrual phase of your cycle.
It is a bit ironic. Because technically, menstrual bleeding occurs when the egg is not fertilized. So how is it possible that one can get pregnant when the uterus is literally shedding blood?
Well, it is all about timing; when all the routes align, leading to a successful pregnancy.
To understand how can you get pregnant while on your period, it is essential to grasp two concepts:
- The menstrual cycle
- Fertilization and implantation
A Quick Review of Conception
To conceive a baby, the following series of steps must occur:
- Unprotected sex resulting in ejaculation; resulting in ejaculation; the sperm can hang around within the uterus for five days, patiently waiting for the egg.
- Ovulation; is the release of the unfertilized egg into the fallopian tubes; the egg is a little impatient and remains within the uterus for only 12 to 24 hours.
- Fertilization; the union of the sperm and egg within the fallopian tube
Implantation; when the fertilized egg snuggles within the uterine lining, it’s home for the next nine months; however, a fertilized egg’s journey to implantation takes between 6 to 12 days.
Perfect timing and favorable conditions lead to pregnancy. However, won’t menstruation create a hostile environment for fertilization and implantation? Can you still get pregnant while you are on your period?
Here are the answers to a few questions that some of us may have.
What happens if sperm goes inside during the period?
Sperm can survive within the female reproductive system for up to five days, regardless of whether one is menstruating or not.
Can sperm survive in menstrual blood?
Yes, sperm can survive in menstrual blood. The optimal pH for viable sperm is between 7 and 8. The pH of menstrual blood is about 7.4.
Can a period flush out a fertilized egg?
Typically, an unfertilized egg is flushed out by menstrual bleeding in the next cycle. When an egg is fertilized, it usually lingers in the fallopian tube for about three days before making its way down to the uterus. When in the uterus, it does not implant immediately. Therefore, chances are that a fertilized egg can dodge the washout by the menstrual flow.
Since we have revised the concept of fertilization and implantation, let’s now get some insight into the menstrual cycle.
Getting to Know Your Cycle
The menstrual cycle consists of four phases:
- menstrual; days 1-5
- follicular; days 6-11
- ovulatory; days 12-16
- luteal phase; days 17-28
Because everyone has a unique body, the days of each phase will vary between women. And as the hormone levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle phases, libido and the chances of conceiving (that is, fertility) also vary.
Commonly, the menstrual bleeding phase lasts five days. The hormones are at an all-time low, and the uterine lining is shedding. But can you get pregnant on the first day of your period? The answer is yes. It is possible to get pregnant on the first day of your period. Although the chances are extremely low, the possibility still exists. How is that so?
Well, sperm can live inside a woman’s body for up to five days, meaning that when the menstrual phase is over and as ovulation approaches, the dawdling (yet resilient!) sperm can fertilize an egg just as it is released.
For instance, let us say one woman’s period lasts about four days, and she has unprotected sex on day one of her period. If ovulation occurs by day five or six, the lingering sperm from day one of the period can make a break for it to fertilize the freshly released egg. Therefore, chances are that a woman can conceive if she has unprotected sex on the first day of her period. This is so highly unlikely when we are talking about the first day but later on in the menstrual phase it becomes more likely.
Now you might ask yourself, can I get pregnant on the 3rd or 4th day of my period? Yes, even if the chances are slim, they are still very much present.
Well, what about after my periods? Can I get pregnant two days after my period? Or can you get pregnant at the end of your period? The answer remains the same. And since the menstrual cycle is approaching the ovulatory phase, the chances of pregnancy are higher after periods. That is exactly when it happens. Whether or not you conceive a boy or girl depends upon this timing.
When the menstrual phase is over, the follicular phase begins. During this phase, your uterus is healing, and the ovaries are maturing follicles for one to become the chosen egg for release.
Next comes the ovulatory phase, when the ovaries release the elected and polished egg into the uterus for possible fertilization. This prized egg can live in the uterus for 12 to 24 hours. Fertilization will occur if this egg opens its door to a willing sperm. The ovulatory phase is the most fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. Women who desire pregnancy often keep track of their menstrual cycle, participating in unprotected sex during the ovulatory phase.
Ovulation can sometimes cause minor bleeding or spotting, which can easily be mistaken for menstrual blood. As a result, if one assumes that they are still menstruating (but actually are in the ovulatory phase) and have unprotected sex, this will lead to fertilization / pregnancy.
Furthermore, the days of the follicular and ovulatory phases often overlap. And it becomes difficult to discern when the follicular phase ends and when the ovulatory phase begins. Consequently, unprotected sex towards the end of periods leads to pregnancy.
The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle can also coincide with the ovulatory phase; therefore, having sex without contraception can lead to pregnancy once again.
The Bottom Line
Every woman has a unique menstrual cycle; some bleed for a short time and some for a long time. At times, the phases of our menstrual cycle are not consistent, making it difficult for us to identify which phase we are going through. Taking your basal body temperature through an accurate digital basal thermometer can be very helpful as well as checking cervical mucus, hardness and placement in the vagina.
Pregnancy relies completely on the health of the menstrual cycle. And pregnancy is possible during the first three phases of the menstrual cycle; menses, follicular and ovulatory. BCPs do not actually prevent pregnancy but force the abortion of a fertilized egg when it does happen. For this reason, it is always a good idea to utilize a natural contraceptive or fertility awareness method before embarking on the journey of sex during the menstrual phase of the menstrual cycle. Carrying a condom, if you do not wish to conceive, is a smart choice that takes some of the mystery out of it.
See our other articles:
Menstrual Cycle Chart: Let’s Begin Charting!
How To Check Your Cervical Fluid and Track Ovulation
Fertility Cycle Chart: 4 Possible Explanations Women Need To Know
Fertility and Early Pregnancy Guide for Couple Trying to Conceive