Some people believe that you can’t conceive whilst menstruating.  It’s not your most fertile time of the month, but it is still possible.  If you are relying on your natural cycle as a form of birth control, you might be surprised to know that you can, in fact get pregnant on your period.  Yes, fertility is low at this time of the month but under some conditions, conception can happen.

How can you get pregnant whilst menstruating?

Ok, so the chances are very low but it’s possible.  So how can conception happen at the same time your body is deciding that pregnancy didn’t happen?  Well, when ovulating, your ovary released an egg into your fallopian tube where it can live for 24 hours waiting to be fertilised before the embryo starts its journey down to the uterus.  Meanwhile, the uterus is building up a lining just in case it needs to host a fertilised embryo.  If the egg meets sperm during ovulation and implants in the lining then bam! – you have a baby on board.  If not, your body sheds both lining and egg (menstrual blood).

Most women’s cycles last around 24 to 28 days from the first day of their period to the first day of the next period.  Because the egg can survive 24 hours after ovulation and sperm can live inside a woman for up to 5 days, a woman can get pregnant starting 5 days before ovulation and ending a day after.

Ovulation usually occurs 14 days before your next cycle – which, if you have a 28 day and a week long period leaves you a week the last day of your period and the first day you ovulate.

But what If you decide to have sex on the last day of your period and you ovulate a few days early? There could be sperm inside you, and you could get pregnant.

If a woman has a 28 day cycle, the day of ovulation start can vary from month to month.  Because of this fluctuation, you can’t guarantee the sperm from the sex during your period will be dead by the time you ovulate again.

Can you get pregnant whilst menstruating if you have an irregular cycle?

Irregular periods can be harder to predict when you’ll be ovulating which can cause you to get pregnant accidently since it’s harder to avoid having sex closer to that time.

Here are a few types of irregular menstrual cycles, and how it’s still possible to get pregnant.

Short Cycles

Some women have 21 day cycles and still ovulate, which means they don’t have much time between when they finish bleeding and when they next ovulate. Since sperm can live up to 5 days in your reproductive tract, if you happened to have sex during your period and then ovulated the following cycle’s egg a few days later, that egg can encounter live sperm and you know what that means.

Long Periods

While your body is shedding the uterine lining, the next egg will show up whilst you are still menstruating from the previous non fertilised egg.  So you are already fertile again which means you can get pregnant whilst on your period.

Breakthrough Bleeding/Spotting

If you have light or irregular periods, it would be easy to mistake this bleeding for a real period – even though it’s happening when you’re actually most fertile, since you’ve just ovulated.

Sometimes an irregular period can be a sign that you are not ovulating at all, which is one cause of infertility.  Breakthrough bleeding/spotting can be a sign of hormonal abnormalities or a physical abnormality in your uterus.  If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms persistently, consult your doctor even if you are not trying for a baby.

If you experience irregular menstrual cycles and you’ve had trouble getting pregnant, consult your doctor who will be able to carry out tests.

Can you get pregnant right before your period?

It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely especially if you have regular periods. Ovulation is normally complete by day 19, a solid week and a half before your next menstrual period begins.

Ovulation can be harder to predict with women with irregular periods, which means it could happen later in the cycle.  Plus, even in women with regular cycles, ovulation can vary from month to month depending on your diet and stress due to everyday living.

Can you get pregnant on your first day of your period?

It’s possible but not very likely for you to get pregnant on the first day of your period, especially if you have regular 28 day cycle.  If you have an irregular or shorter cycle, ovulation might happen much closer to day one of your period, which would cause you to get pregnant on the first day.

Can you get pregnant right after your period?

Yes, you can get pregnant right after your period but it depends on when you ovulate.  In women with a regular 28 day cycle, ovulation usually begins at day 14, which would be 7 days after the end of a week long period.

If you ovulate early, or if you have a short menstrual cycle or a long period, the amount of time between your period and ovulation could be much less.  As you discovered earlier on, sperm can live up to 5 days, sex only a day or two after your period can lead to pregnancy.

Can you get pregnant on your period while using birth control?

Yes it is possible to get pregnant when you’re using birth control, whether you’re on your period or not.  Remember birth control isn’t 100% effective.  The only effective birth control is abstinence.  The likelihood that a contraceptive will fail varies depending on the method of birth control.

Although the odds are very slim you can get pregnant on your period or any other time of the month.  It’s even possible but not as likely to get pregnant whilst using birth control.  So unless you are trying to conceive, it’s always wise to be vigilant about contraception use.

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