It’s that age-old question, and we’re here to answer it: Can you get pregnant on your period? We’ll get right to the point. Technically, the answer is a straightforward no: You can’t get pregnant while you’re on your period.
But hang on a second, because in practical terms, the answer is a little more complicated than that. If you’re having sex while on your period, and you’re not using any form of contraception, you shouldn’t assume that you definitely won’t get pregnant.
Why is that, exactly? It’s all to do with the timing of your fertile window. We’ll explain properly, but first, let’s do a quick refresher on exactly how you get pregnant and the fundamentals to know.
- Ovulation: During each menstrual cycle, one of your ovaries will release an egg in a process called ovulation. This little egg will travel to your uterine (fallopian) tube, where it will sit for around 12 to 24 hours.
- Fertilization: If a sperm is in the uterine tube at the same time and fertilizes the egg, then pregnancy occurs.
- Fertile window: You’re most likely to get pregnant during your fertile window, which is around six days long. This includes ovulation day and the five days before it (we’ll explain more on this time frame later on, as this is the part that’s most relevant).
- Cycle length: As everyone’s cycle lengths are different, everyone will ovulate at different times and will therefore have different fertile windows.
Now that we know the basics, let’s take a closer look at the specifics. We know that people have a lot of questions about when exactly in their cycle they can get pregnant and particularly how their period could impact their chances of getting pregnant. So we’ll tackle the different stages of the cycle in chronological order and lay out the possibility of getting pregnant during each. Useful, right? We’ll also get a helping hand from Dr. Jenna Beckham, obstetrician and gynecologist, North Carolina, US, who will talk us through all the different factors to consider.