1. Getting pregnant
  2. Planning for pregnancy

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Can You Get Pregnant While Pregnant and Other Myths about Getting Pregnant

Conception may seem like a mysterious process, and many people have many questions about how to become pregnant. Common concerns include getting pregnant on the pill, getting pregnant from swallowing sperm, or even getting pregnant while pregnant. Fortunately, the answers to these questions are researched and understood. Read on to learn exactly when you can and can’t conceive.

Can you get pregnant while pregnant?

Are you wondering, “Is it possible to get pregnant while pregnant?" First, it’s important to understand that while yes, technically it is possible to get pregnant while pregnant, it’s also extremely rare. Called superfetation, it has been known to happen to some mammals, such as mink and badgers. However, it is so rare for a human to get pregnant while pregnant that no statistics even exist to give an idea of exactly how uncommon this phenomenon is. There are about 10 known cases of a woman who got pregnant while pregnant in medical literature.

So how is it even possible for a woman to get pregnant while pregnant? The process of becoming pregnant normally involves the egg being released from the ovary and sperm fertilizing the egg, followed by the egg attaching to the uterine lining, where it eventually develops into a fetus. At this point, hormonal changes stop the ovulation process that releases the eggs. But with superfetation, ovulation happens during pregnancy. If the egg becomes fertilized, a second pregnancy can occur. 

The reasons for this mysterious and extremely rare situation are not known, and there is no known research on the topic. Experts agree superfetation is a medical phenomenon that has no logical explanation.   

Can you get pregnant from swallowing sperm?

Unlike whether it is possible to become pregnant while pregnant, the answer to this question is straightforward. No, a girl cannot get pregnant from swallowing sperm. Still, this is a fairly common misconception regarding conception

In order to get pregnant, sperm must come in contact with the female reproductive tract. Sperm that is swallowed enters the digestive tract, never coming anywhere near the vulva or vagina as it travels through the body.

In fact, pregnancy can only occur if all of the following steps happen:

  • Sperm enters the vagina.
  • It continues to travel through the cervix and into the uterine tubes.
  • An egg is present inside the uterine tubes, and the sperm fertilizes the egg.
  • The fertilized egg then implants itself in the uterus.

There is no way you can get pregnant from swallowing semen. Any kind of oral sex, kissing, or hugging will never result in pregnancy. However, oral sex can transmit sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Other kinds of sex, including vaginal and anal sex, can also spread the transmission of STIs. To reduce the chances of infection, use condoms and consider STI testing for both you and your partner before having any type of sex.

Can you get pregnant on birth control?

Yes, it is possible to get pregnant on the pill. Although more than 90 percent effective with typical use, it is still possible to get pregnant on birth control.

If you take your birth control pill at the exact same time every single day and never miss a dose, the chances of getting pregnant on the pill are only about 1 percent. However, missing a dose or taking it at different times of the day increase the likelihood of pregnancy.

Birth control effectiveness is reduced if they’re not taken at the same time every day. If this happens during ovulation, ovulation could occur as a result of a delayed dose. Ovulation, in turn, increases the chances of becoming pregnant. 

If you’ve vomited shortly after taking your birth control pill, this could also prevent your body from absorbing the hormones, which could result in ovulation, making getting pregnant on birth control much more possible. 

Yes, it is possible to get pregnant on the pill. Although more than 90 percent effective with typical use, it is still possible to get pregnant on birth control.

To help avoid missing a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone to help you remember to take your birth control pill. Another possibility is to take it at the same time as a specific daily activity, such as eating breakfast or brushing your teeth. Taking the placebo pills may also help keep you on a daily schedule and minimize the chances of missing a dose. 

It’s also important to avoid mixing birth control pills with other medications that could interfere with their effectiveness. If you’re starting a new medication or antibiotic treatment, be sure to tell your doctor if you use hormonal birth control. You should also avoid any herbs known to interfere with hormonal contraceptives, such as St. John’s wort, which has been studied for its possible interference with contraceptive effectiveness.  

In the event of a missed pill, take the next pill according to the information provided in the instructions that came with the medication. You may need to use another form of birth control, such as condoms, or abstain from sex for up to a month. If you follow these precautions, the possibility of getting pregnant on the pill becomes very slim.  

Can you get pregnant from sex without penetration?

One very common question is whether having a penis near the vagina but without actual penetration can still cause pregnancy. If ejaculation occurs at or near the entrance to the vagina, it is possible, although extremely unlikely, that this can lead to pregnancy. If sperm comes in contact with the vagina without penetration, it is possible for sperm to enter and fertilize an egg. Although technically possible, it is a slim possibility. 

If precum comes in contact with the vagina, there is also a slim chance of pregnancy. This is because precum, or pre-ejaculate fluid, sometimes contains live sperm, making conception possible. For this reason, it is important for people who don’t want to become pregnant to use a condom any time a penis comes in contact with their vagina if they don’t use another form of birth control. 

Grinding, or frottage, another form of sexual intimacy, involves rubbing against another person without actual penetration. Grinding can take place fully clothed, just in underwear, or fully nude. While becoming pregnant from frottage is extremely rare, if it’s done while naked and a penis comes in contact with a vagina, it is possible. Whenever ejaculation occurs either near or in the vagina, pregnancy is theoretically possible.

Can you get pregnant at any time in your cycle?

It is possible to become pregnant at any time during your menstrual cycle; however, it is extremely unlikely for pregnancy to occur at certain phases of the cycle. Each cycle has a fertile window of roughly six days around the time of ovulation. While the specific day that ovulation occurs varies from person to person, it typically happens on day 14 of a 28-day cycle. This is the time when pregnancy is most likely to occur.

Because sperm can survive up to five days, if they are alive in the female body during the 24-hour period after an egg is released, fertilization is possible. Typically, eggs survive for only 24 hours. They deteriorate quickly, causing the chances of fertilization to rapidly decrease by the hour. 

It is possible to become pregnant at any time during your menstrual cycle; however, it is extremely unlikely for pregnancy to occur at certain phases of the cycle.

While less likely, having sex during your period still carries the chance of conception. It all depends on the length of your cycle and when you ovulate. If ovulation occurs within five days or so of sexual intercourse, the sperm may still be alive when the egg is released. Although rare, it is possible to become pregnant after ovulation if ovulation occurs again in the same cycle.

Tracking your individual cycle can be very helpful for identifying when exactly ovulation happens for you. 

Can you get pregnant after having sex for the first time?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to become pregnant after only having sex one time. It does not matter whether your hymen ruptures during the first sexual encounter or not. What matters is if the penis has penetrated the vagina, regardless of whether ejaculation occurs or not. 

The takeaway

By sorting out the circumstances that can lead to conception from the ones that can’t, you can become more empowered in your sexuality and feel more confident and relaxed with your partner. If you believe you may be pregnant, seek out the advice of your doctor. If you recently engaged in sexual activity that could result in pregnancy, you may be able to use emergency contraception. Check with a doctor or pharmacist about which is right for you according to how much time has passed and your weight.   

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/birth-control/in-depth/birth-control-pill/art-20045136?pg=2

https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14663455

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/hormonal-methods-of-birth-control-beyond-the-basics

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Fertility-Awareness-Based-Methods-of-Family-Planning

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/how-to-get-pregnant/art-20047611

https://www.cdc.gov/std/healthcomm/stdfact-stdriskandoralsex.htm#isItSafer