Here’s The Truth About Whether You Can Get Pregnant On Your Period

by | Jul 17, 2017 | Health

By Laura Stampler; photography by Freepik

It’s not a silly question.

Just because you get your period every month, that doesn’t mean you still don’t have tons of questions about it. And one of the biggest period-related head scratchers involves another big p-word: pregnancy. As in, “Can I get pregnant from having sex on my period?”

Well, according to gynae Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, “Technically, you can only get pregnant when you’re ovulating, which is a 48-hour window each month and should not be happening when you’re menstruating.”

READ MORE: What Your Period Blood Consistency Says About Your Health

Ovulation happens about two weeks prior to menstruation, occurring between day 10 and 17 of your cycle—although day 14 is the average, Shirazian says. Since ovulation and menstruation are two separate events in a woman’s cycle, Shirazian explains that, in theory, it’s unlikely for a woman to get pregnant during her period. “Menstruating is basically the end of the reproductive cycle where the progesterone levels drop, and the lining of the uterus sheds,” she says. “You are actively shedding that lining, so there’s no egg and sperm fusing at that time. There’s no implantation.”

But of course it’s not that simple. Here’s where things get complicated: “The problem is that people aren’t always sure when they’re menstruating,” Shirazian says.

Sometimes when women experience breakthrough bleeding or irregular bleeding, they mistake it for menstruation—which it is not. And spotting can occur mid-cycle, right around ovulation, which is primetime for conceiving.

READ MORE: This Is The Reason Why You Fart More On Your Period

Sperm also has the ability to stay alive in the body before implanting for a couple days, according to the American Pregnancy Association. So even though it would be highly unlikely for your period and ovulation to be close enough to lead to pregnancy, you should probably be using other forms of birth control as well.

Shirazian warns that the rhythm method, which is based on finding your ovulatory window, “is about 50 percent effective, and the reason is that many women do not have reliable period cycles. Any doctor would tell you it’s not an effective way to avoid pregnancy.”

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