Sex during your period. Can you get pregnant?

Sex during period week. Don’t act like you haven’t at least thought about it, hell maybe you’ve even done it, no judgement here—this is a safe zone. But if you are keen to get down and dirty (too much?) during shark week, you probably want to know: can you get pregnant having sex during your period? Let’s investigate.

First up: How does the menstrual cycle work?

Whether you’re working hard to get pregnant or even harder to not, it’s important to know how your cycle works. Your cycle begins on the first day of your period and starts over again when the next period arrives (everyone’s favourite day of the month *eye roll*). The average cycle is 28 days, however it’s not unusual for your cycle to run between 24-38 days. 

OK, time to listen really closely… in the middle of your cycle (usually about two weeks before your period is due, depending on your cycle’s length), ovulation occurs. In case you snoozed through Year 7 Phys Ed, ovulation is when your ovaries release an egg into one of your fallopian tubes. Once there, it hangs around for 12 to 24 hours waiting to be fertilised by sperm (waiting on a man, typical). So if you are trying to get pregnant, this is when you and your partner need to get down to business.

Source: The Tom Co.

So, can you get pregnant from sex during your period?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the menstrual cycle, it’s time to talk about sex during your period. While getting pregnant is unlikely to result from having sex during your period, it can’t be ruled out completely. Sorry girl, there’s no clear yes or no answer to your burning question—it really all comes down to these few factors:

  • If you’ve used contraception
    Obviously the best way to reduce your chances of falling pregnant is to use contraception. No matter when in your cycle you decide to get it on, using contraception such as the pill, a diaphragm, IUD or a good ol’ fashion condom can be up to 99% effective in preventing conception.

  • If your cycle is short
    If you have a shorter cycle, say around 21 to 24 days, this means your ovulation days will come around sooner. If you didn’t know already, sperm can party up inside you for up to five days, so this means if you have sex toward the backend of your period, it is possible to conceive a few days later, with your early ovulation.

  • If your cycle is long
    If your cycle runs a little longer than average and is about 32 to 38 days, then ovulation is likely to occur later, on day 17 (or so). If you opt to get jiggy at any point during your period then the odds of this resulting in a baby are super slim. 

  • The length of your period
    Once the bleeding has stopped, you start getting closer to ovulation day—so the number of days between these two events can impact your chances of falling pregnant, if you have a longer bleed (sorry gal) and then have sex at the end of your period.

  • The day you have sex during your period
    Here’s an easy way to keep track. You are less fertile in the days leading up to your period and at the start of your period, and you are more fertile the further behind you your last period was.

  • When you ovulate
    Ovulating early in your cycle (around day six or seven) can be normal, and so can ovulating as late as day 19 or 20, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong, it just means you need to closely track your ovulation to make sure you get it right.

Let’s break down some scenarios where getting frisky might get a little risky. 

Sex during your period… if you ovulate early

Whether you’ve got a shorter cycle or you ovulate earlier than most (again, nothing to be too concerned about), having sex during you period may get you pregnant as you could release an egg just days after your period is over.

Sex during your period… at the start

Having sex outside of the time you’re ovulating does decrease your chances of getting pregnant, but is it impossible? No.

While it’s really (really) unlikely you’ll get pregnant if you have sex just before your period, we never want to say never. Since the most fertile days of your cycle are between day 11 and 21 (depending on your cycle length) and your fertility window closes around 24 hours after your egg is released, the chance of conceiving if you have sex two or three days before your period is pretty low.

Sex during your period… at the end

OK. You’ve held off on having sex during your period, it’s now day seven of your cycle, and thank the sex gods, your period ended a day or two ago, and all you can think about is getting into the sack with your man. Well hop to it girl, because the odds of you conceiving right after your period increase each day after your bleeding has stopped. On day 11 (based on the average cycle) you may be ovulating, and what happens when an egg meets sperm? A baby!

Whether you’re going at it hammer and tong trying to get pregnant, or if a baby is the last thing on your brain, it’s important to get your timing right and track your ovulation, so you can enjoy your sexy times stress-free. Get it, girl!

Read next: Four of the best period tracker apps

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