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A common fertility myth is that you can’t get pregnant when menstruating. While the odds for pregnancy are lower on the days you’re on your period, they aren’t zero.
If you’re trying to get pregnant (or trying not to get pregnant), tracking your cycle is important. It will help you keep track of the most fertile days when you can more easily conceive.
A common fertility myth is that you can’t get pregnant during your period. While the odds for pregnancy are lower on the days you’re on your period, they aren’t zero.
Here’s what you need to know about fertility and having sex on your period.
Conception requires the meeting of sperm with an egg. Once the ovary releases an egg, the egg lives for only between 12 and 24 hours. The sperm can live for about 3 days.
The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days. Day 1 is the start of your period. Ovulation usually occurs around day 14 (but it could be around days 12, 13, or 14).
Ovulation is when the ovary releases an egg for fertilization. If sperm is available in the uterus, pregnancy can occur.
Ovulation can vary based on your cycle. Some people have a longer cycle of around 35 days between periods. Ovulation would then happen around day 21. Those with a shorter cycle of 21 days ovulate around day 7.
It’s easy to mistake vaginal bleeding for the beginning of a period. It’s possible you could bleed during ovulation when you’re most fertile. This could easily be mistaken for a period. Having sex without a barrier method at this time dramatically increases your chances of becoming pregnant.
On average, the ovulation cycle is somewhere between 28 and 30 days. This means that if you have sex while on your period, you won’t likely ovulate until several days later.
But those with a shorter cycle wouldn’t have the same amount of time between having their periods and ovulating.
Another consideration is that sperm can live up to 72 hours after ejaculation. Toward the end of your period, your chances of becoming pregnant will increase.
If you’re curious about your ovulation patterns, you can track the days between your periods. This includes when you start your period, and then when you start your period again.
Over several months, you can identify a pattern to determine roughly when your ovulation cycle occurs.
The likelihood of getting pregnant can rise and fall throughout the ovulation cycle. While the average person’s monthly cycle may be 29 days, others may have a cycle that varies from 20 to 40 days or longer.
The likelihood of pregnancy 1 to 2 days after starting your period is nearly zero. But the likelihood increases again with each successive day, even though you may still be menstruating.
At roughly day 13 after starting your period, the chance of pregnancy is an estimated 9%.
While these numbers may be low, it means you can never be 100% assured that you won’t get pregnant on your period.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, having sex on your period won’t help you conceive unless your menstrual cycle is fewer than 28 days. But it’s always possible that you could become pregnant.
If you’re not trying to become pregnant, it’s important to use contraception every time, such as wearing a condom or taking birth control pills.
Birth control pills will not provide a barrier against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. To protect yourself from STIs, use a barrier method like a condom.
Ovulation cycles can vary, so it’s statistically possible you could become pregnant while on your period. While pregnancy is less likely in the earlier days of your period, the chances increase in the later days.
If you’re trying to become pregnant and haven’t conceived after a year or more, contact your doctor. They can recommend methods of tracking your ovulation, as well as connect you with fertility experts.
Your doctor can also provide testing and treatments that will help you increase your chances of conception.