Is It Possible to Get Pregnant on Your Period?
One of the biggest pregnancy myths floating around is the rumor that you can’t get pregnant on your period… when in fact, you actually can!
In this article, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about getting pregnant during your period including how it’s possible, factors that influence your chances, and timelines to consider.
What are the chances of getting pregnant on your period?
The chances of getting pregnant on your period are extremely low – but they’re not zero.
Several factors are at play in determining your chances. These factors include the length of your cycle, how long your period lasts, the timing of ovulation, and when you have sex with your partner.
There is no clear-cut estimation for how “likely” you are to get pregnant during your period. However, your chances will likely increase with each day of your period as you approach ovulation.
How is it possible to get pregnant on your period?
First of all, let’s think about the process of getting pregnant.
To conceive, a sperm must be able to travel through the vagina and into the fallopian tubes where it can fertilize an egg. It’s important to note that sperm can survive inside the body for up to 5 days, while an egg can only survive for up to 24 hours after ovulation.
It is only possible to get pregnant once ovulation has occurred and the egg is released. However, because sperm can survive for up to 5 days, you can still get pregnant if you have sex during the 5 days leading up to ovulation.
This window of time is often referred to as part of the “fertile window”, and although rare, it is possible for this fertile window to overlap with the dates of your period, for example, if your period tends to last until day 7 or 8 of your cycle and you tend to ovulate early around day 12 or 13.
There are several scenarios like this where it could be possible to get pregnant during your period. However, every individual situation is different. The best way to determine whether or not your period overlaps with your fertile window is to follow a fertility awareness method to track your cycle.
Factors that can influence the likelihood of period pregnancy
Length of menstrual cycle
Your chances of period sex leading to pregnancy depend on the length of your menstrual cycle and the timing of ovulation.
For example, if your menstrual cycle is short, the timing of your ovulation may also be early. This means that ovulation could occur within 5 days of your period. Irregular cycles can also lead to early ovulation near your period. While this may not be the case with each and every cycle, the unpredictability increases your chances of getting pregnant while on your period.
In sum, if your cycles tend to be on the short side and/or if you have irregular cycles, it’s best to use a form of birth control during your period if you wish to avoid pregnancy.
To learn more about early ovulation and irregular cycles, check out our article: What Is Causing Your Early Ovulation and Can It Be Fixed?
Length of your period
The length of your period is another factor that may increase your chances of conceiving during menstruation. A typical period can last anywhere from 2-7 days. However, if your cycle is naturally short and you tend to bleed through day 7, you could get pregnant if you have sex on day 7 and then ovulate as early as day 12.
The key takeaway is that if you tend to experience a longer period, you are more likely to get pregnant while on your period compared to someone who only bleeds for 2-3 days.
When you had sex
Another factor that influences your likelihood of getting pregnant during your period is when you have sex. Though not entirely impossible, you are much less likely to conceive if you have sex on day 1 or 2 of your period compared to days 6 or 7. This is because you will be closer to ovulation towards the end of your period.
However, it’s important to note that this logic does not apply if your cycles are irregular. This is because ovulation may come extremely early (or late) during your cycle – making it difficult to predict where it will occur relative to your period.
Pregnancy during period timelines
Right before your period
The average menstrual cycle lasts between 21 to 35 days, and it’s normal for ovulation to occur between days 6 to 21. If your cycle is short and you have sex on day 23 (i.e. the day before your period), you would have to ovulate before day 5 to get pregnant. Although this is unlikely, it is not impossible.
On the first day of your period
In this scenario, if you have sex on the first day of your period (i.e. day 1 of your cycle), you would have to ovulate before day 6 to have a chance of getting pregnant. Again, this is highly unlikely but it is not impossible.
Right after your period
As you approach the end of your period, your chances of conception increase. For example, say that your period ends on day 7 of your cycle and you have sex on day 8. Ovulation would need to occur before day 13 in order for you to get pregnant. Day 13 is within the average ovulation window of days 6 to 21, making it possible for you to get pregnant if you have sex right after your period.
FAQs about conceiving during your period
Can you get pregnant on your period while using birth control?
The “period” that you experience while taking birth control is not technically your period. Instead, it is called withdrawal bleeding and it occurs when your hormone levels drop towards the end of each round of hormonal birth control.
If you are taking your birth control properly, it is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This means you may have a 1% chance of getting pregnant during your “period” (aka withdrawal bleeding) when taking birth control.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy during your period?
There are no specific symptoms associated with getting pregnant on your period. If you do conceive during this time, you may experience other common symptoms of early pregnancy including implantation bleeding, light cramps, breast tenderness, changes in cervical mucus, and/or headaches. However, these very early symptoms are rare and are very similar to period-related symptoms.
If you get pregnant on your period, will it stop?
If you do get pregnant while menstruating, it will not likely cause your period to stop. Remember – for pregnancy to occur, you will need to ovulate, and it is extremely unlikely that you will ovulate during your period. Not only that, but it can take several days and even weeks until your body begins to show noticeable changes due to pregnancy.
If you suspect that you might be pregnant, the best thing to do is to be patient and take a pregnancy test at least 14 days after your estimated day of ovulation. If you’re not quite sure when you ovulated, you should wait until one day after your missed period.
For more information about taking a pregnancy test, check out our article When to Take a Pregnancy Test Based on Science and Ovulation. Please note that pregnancy test recommendations vary depending on the length of your cycle.