Can you get pregnant during your period?
Every one of us has heard the question before: Can you get pregnant during menstruation? Well, even though this sounds very unlikely, it is not impossible to fall pregnant while you’re on your period. If the first half in a woman’s cycle is short, ovulation is also likely to occur earlier. If unprotected sexual intercourse has taken place during menstruation and the sperm have been able to survive in the uterus or fallopian tubes until the time of ovulation, fertilisation and subsequent implantation of the egg is quite possible, even if it is unlikely. In any case, it is definitely not true to say that it is absolutely impossible for a woman to fall pregnant during menstruation. Under certain circumstances, it is quite possible for a woman to fall pregnant during her period.
How does the female cycle work?
In order for women to achieve an optimal state of health, it is particularly important to understand their own body and to be able to correctly interpret the signals it sends. This also includes understanding the female cycle and knowing what is actually going on in your own body. In the course of a full cycle, the body prepares for a possible pregnancy by maturing eggs and building up the lining of the uterus. If the egg is not fertilised, the lining of the uterus is shed during menstruation and the cycle starts all over again.
How likely is it to get pregnant during my period?
Theoretically, the following two conditions would have to be met:
- ovulation takes place relatively early in the cycle
- the sperm survive until ovulation takes place
Since this always depends on the individual woman and her cycle, it is actually impossible to apply a one-size-fits-all probability here.
Does a short cycle mean that ovulation occurs earlier?
Yes, you can assume that ovulation also takes place earlier with short cycles. The important thing is that even short cycles are healthy in most cases and ovulation does take place. These usually occur rather early, often before the middle of the cycle. In these cases, the fertile phase often begins at the end of the period and the period of ovulation is often between the 8th and 12th day of the cycle.
Fertility during menstruation
Even though it is rather unlikely that a woman will become pregnant through sexual intercourse during her period, it is still not impossible. With very short cycles, it is quite possible for ovulation to occur relatively close to the end of the period. Considering the lifespan of the sperm, fertilisation of the egg (and thus pregnancy) is definitely within the realm of possibility.
The lifespan of sperm
Admittedly, as a woman you rarely concern yourself with the exact lifespan of sperm unless you wish to conceive.
But how long do sperm actually survive in a woman’s body? Well, that depends on the phase of the woman’s cycle. Sperm can survive longest in an environment with the optimal pH value for them.
In the ‘infertile’ phases of the cycle, the cervical mucus tends to be acidic, with a pH of around 3.5 – 5.5. This acidic environment reduces the life span of the sperm and causes them to die quickly. The rather sticky cervical mucus also ‘seals’ the uterus.
However, during the fertile phase in the cycle, the cervical mucus changes and the environment in the vagina is less acidic, with a slightly alkaline pH of about 7.5. At this time, the sperm are able to survive and fertilise for up to 5 days. During the fertile phase in the cycle, the sperm move hyperactively. The highly fertile cervical mucus nourishes and guides them on their way to the egg.
Can sperm be 'flushed out' by the menstrual flow?
During menstruation, the previously built up layer of uterine lining is broken down and ‘flushed out’. However, you cannot simply assume that sperm are flushed out directly with the menstrual period. After all, sperm swim independently and purposefully towards their destination. If ovulation takes place shortly after the period, fertile cervical mucus may already be present despite the period. This creates ideal conditions for the sperm to survive.
Sexual intercourse during your period
Whether you want to have sexual intercourse during your period or not is a very individual decision and depends entirely on whether both partners feel comfortable with it. It is important to communicate openly and honestly and to respect the boundaries of both partners. In fact, many women report that sex during their periods feels good for them and helps relieve discomfort such as cramps. It’s also important to remember that having your period doesn’t automatically mean you can’t get pregnant.
Can you get pregnant the day after your period?
Yes, even though it is rather unlikely that a woman will get pregnant through sexual intercourse so soon after her period, it is still not impossible. It is simply impossible to make a general statement, because you always have to consider the individual cycle of each woman.
Can you get pregnant on the last day of your period?
In this case, again, it is not possible to simply rule out the possibility of pregnancy across the board. With very short cycles, as already mentioned, it is quite possible that ovulation takes place very shortly after menstruation. In combination with the lifetime of sperm, fertilisation of the egg (and thus pregnancy) is definitely within the realm of possibility. Again, you have to consider the individual cycle of each woman.
Contraception during menstruation
It goes without saying that it is also necessary to use a suitable method of contraception during your period. Women who know their body well and know exactly where they are in their cycle will also know quite precisely when they are fertile and when they are not. If you are in a committed relationship and know your cycle very well, there is certainly nothing to stop you from having unprotected sexual intercourse during menstruation. However, if you are not sure when you are fertile and/or have changing partners, you should of course always use contraception and think not only about a possible pregnancy but also about sexually transmitted diseases.