Can you get pregnant on your period?

Can you get pregnant on your period?
October 11 14:04 2016

A woman’s menstrual cycle is very important when it comes to human reproduction.  Many issues concerning conceiving can be managed just by understanding the way the menstrual cycle works. Some couples practice contraception by following the cycle calendar, from this method of contraception comes the myth that a woman cannot get pregnant if she has sex during her periods.

If you are one of those women wondering if you can get pregnant during your periods then the answer is yes, it is possible, we will explain why just below but first let’s take a quick look at the menstrual cycle. It will help you understand why it’s possible to get pregnant during your periods.


Understanding the menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is a series of changes that happen in the female reproductive system. It mainly involves the ovaries that produce and release eggs and the uterus that carries a fetus to term. The cycle comprises of the production of eggs in the ovary, the preparation of the uterus for pregnancy and the disintegration of the uterus lining whenever fertilization does not occur.

The menstrual cycle begins when a girl reaches puberty and lasts through the procreation phase until the age of menopause where it stops and disappears for good. In between these two periods, the menstrual cycle only stops during pregnancy, if it stops any other time then that means there is a problem you should consult with your gynecologist.

The typical duration of a menstrual cycle is 28 days but there are some women who can experience shorter or longer cycles. The shorter cycle can be as few as 24 days while the longer cycle can go up to 32 days.

Each cycle is divided into 3 phases based on hormonal changes, ovarian changes, and uterine changes.  In the menstrual cycle, the monthly flow of blood is known as periods or menses. Periods last about 5 days give or take and the first day of blood flow marks day one of the cycle. When the periods end the next phase of the cycle begins, it is called the follicular phase. This is the phase in which the uterus lining begins to thicken and the ovaries start the process of producing eggs. The follicular phase continues until day 14 of the cycle, it is around this time that one of the ovaries releases an egg into the fallopian tube, a process called ovulation. The released egg can only live up to 24hrs waiting to be fertilized by a sperm if it is not fertilized it disintegrates. During the 10 to 14 days following ovulation, the uterus prepares itself for implantation, thickening more and developing extra blood vessels. The disintegration of the unfertilized egg causes a sharp decrease in hormone levels, which results in the breaking down of the uterus lining, and the products expelled through the vagina in form of blood, this process is menstruation or periods.


Why is it possible to get pregnant during your periods?

Now that you have an idea how your reproductive system works, it will be much easier for you to understand how its possible to get pregnant when you have sex during your periods.

Getting pregnant during periods is possible in women with either a shorter menstrual cycle (a cycle that lasts less than 28 days) or a longer menstrual cycle (a cycle that lasts more than 28 days) the fertility period for women with a cycle of 28 days is usually around day 12 to 16 of the cycle. If you have a shorter cycle, generally 24 days, ovulation can happen soon after your period ends. Since an egg can live for 24hrs post ovulation and sperm can survive for 5 to 7 days in your womb, if you have sex towards the end of your period you stand a chance of getting pregnant. So in short, if you have sex on the last day of your period and then ovulation happens a couple of days earlier, you can indeed get pregnant.

Sometimes periods can last a long time, meaning your body takes longer to break down and shed the uterus lining. As this phase drags on, your ovaries are already producing the next egg and when they are ready they will release it even if you are still bleeding. So when this happens and you engage in sexual intercourse you could get pregnant.

There are women who mistake breakthrough bleeding or spotting for menstruation and they assume they are now in the less fertile zone so they cannot get pregnant if they have sex. It is a common mistake really and it usually happens in the days after ovulation, meaning it’s around the days when you are most fertile, leading to you get pregnant.


To sum it up, if you have sex during your period it’s unlikely that you will get pregnant, but it does not mean it is impossible. Yes, your most fertile days are the ones just before and after ovulation, for a normal cycle that would be around day 14 but ovulation can happen irregularly. Whenever ovulations happens earlier, putting into account the lifespan of sperm, you can get pregnant even when you are in your period. Always remember you are fertile whenever you ovulate, a few days before ovulation, and a few days after ovulation.