Many women are of the opinion that you cannot get pregnant during your period and therefore do without contraception during this time. Whether this is actually a good idea and you really can't get pregnant during your period is explained below.
Getting pregnant during your period - the most important facts at a glance
- Women are fertile for about five to six days during their entire cycle.
- Contrary to popular belief, you can get pregnant during your period.
- The risk of pregnancy from unprotected sex during mentruation is relatively low.
- Unprotected sex can also lead to pregnancy immediately after your period.
- Immediately before the onset of menstruation, the risk of becoming pregnant is particularly low.
- Due to possible fluctuations in the cycle, women should not rely exclusively on an ovulation calendar for contraception.
- In principle, you cannot have a period during pregnancy.
- If light bleeding occurs at the beginning of pregnancy, this is often so-called implantation bleeding.
- Women who try unsuccessfully to become pregnant should seek advice from their gynaecologist.
- An ovulation test can help women who want to have children to find out when they are ovulating.
Not every woman feels like being intimate with her partner during her period. Many women also believe that you should never have sex during your period. However, this is a misconception. From a purely medical point of view, there is nothing to stop you from having sexual intercourse during your period.
If you want to, you can enjoy your love life during your period without worrying about it. If you suffer from period pains, sex may even help you to relax and counteract them.
Of course, your partner needs to want to have sex during your period as well as you. If your partner is disgusted by your bleeding, a frank discussion can often help to find a mutually satisfactory solution.
Why you should not go without contraception during your period
During your period, you are more susceptible to intimate infections, such as vaginal thrush. For this reason, the use of condoms is always advisable, not least for the sake of your health. Of course, this is especially true if you don't know your sexual partner well or are unsure about your or your partner's health.
Apart from health reasons, however, there is another important reason why you should not go without contraception despite your menstruation. Even if many women believe otherwise, you can still get pregnant during your period.
If you do not want to have a baby at the moment, contraception is strongly recommended to avoid an unwanted pregnancy during your period. This also applies to any other time during your cycle, even if the likelihood of getting pregnant is particularly low on some days.
What is the risk of getting pregnant during my period?
Basically, the risk of you getting pregnant during your period through unprotected sex is actually relatively small. Nevertheless, pregnancy during this phase of your cycle is still within the realms of possibility. For a better understanding of the whole thing, it is worth taking a look at the female cycle. It runs in several phases. It starts on the first day of your period and ends as soon as your next period starts.
About 14 days before your period starts, ovulation takes place. This means that the egg, which has previously matured during the so-called follicular phase, is released and travels via your ovaries towards your uterus. Your body now begins to prepare for a possible pregnancy by building up the lining of the uterus.
If fertilisation does not occur after ovulation, the lining of the uterus is shed and excreted. So you have your menstruation.
If, on the other hand, the egg is fertilised, it implants in the uterus and over the course of the next few weeks and months will hopefully develop into a healthy baby.
When is fertility highest during the cycle?
You are particularly fertile during ovulation. By the way, the unfertilised egg can only survive for about 12 to 24 hours. However, this does not mean that you can only get pregnant through sexual intercourse during ovulation. Unlike the egg, a man's sperm can survive in the female body for around five days without any problems.
It is therefore quite possible for the egg to be fertilised even though your last unprotected sexual intercourse took place a few days before ovulation.
The survivability of the female egg and the male sperm means that you are generally fertile for around five or six days in each cycle.
What factors play a role in the risk of pregnancy?
Given that you are only actually fertile for a few days in each menstrual cycle and that pregnancy is therefore not possible at any given time, you could of course easily get the idea that you only need to use contraception on certain days of the month. In practice, not using contraception during certain phases of your cycle is not a good idea.
Your individual risk of pregnancy during your period depends on the following things, among others:
- Length of your cycle
- The length of your period
- Fluctuations in the cycle
Unfortunately, women's menstrual cycles are not always as regular as you might have learned in biology class. In fact, the length of the cycle and the length of menstruation can vary significantly from woman to woman. It can be as short as 20 days or as long as 40 days. The 28 days that are often quoted as an average therefore do not always correspond to reality.
The fact that cycle fluctuations are by no means uncommon makes it almost impossible for many women to determine their fertile days with satisfactory certainty.
Depending on the length of your cycle, unprotected sex, especially towards the end of your period, can lead to pregnancy quite quickly because of the survivability of male sperm. This is especially true if you generally have a short menstrual cycle or if there have been changes in your menstrual cycle for any reason.
Pregnant through unprotected sex before your period?
Shortly before your period starts, the probability that you will become pregnant through unprotected sex is particularly low. Since ovulation has already occurred too long ago for the unfertilised egg to be viable, and your partner's sperm cannot survive until the next ovulation, pregnancy can be ruled out with a very high degree of probability.
However, you don't have a guarantee right before your period. We therefore recommend that you use contraception during this phase of your cycle to be on the safe side, so that you don't get pregnant unintentionally.
Can you get pregnant after your period?
Of course, you can theoretically get pregnant not only by having sex during your period, but also by having sex immediately after your period. The risk here is also rather low. But there is no doubt that the risk is too high to do without contraception, even after your period.
Basically, you can assume that the closer you get to your next ovulation, the more likely it is that you will become pregnant. Especially if you have a relatively short menstrual cycle, the risk of becoming pregnant increases with each day after your period.
Ovulation calendars are not suitable for contraception
Many women use an ovulation calendar to determine when their fertile days are. To a certain extent, such a calendar may be helpful. However, if you don't want to get pregnant, you should never use it as a contraceptive method. It is simply too inaccurate because of possible fluctuations in your cycle.
To be on the safe side and avoid getting pregnant during your period, you should always use reliable contraceptive methods, such as condoms, and not rely on things like an ovulation calendar.
Can you get your period during pregnancy?
You often hear women say that they got their period even though they were already pregnant at the time. However, this is a misconception. Because once you are pregnant, your cycle is interrupted. The egg has taken up residence in the uterus, so the mucous membrane that was previously built up there is not shed and there is therefore no menstruation.
The reason why many women still believe that they have had their period despite their pregnancy is that bleeding occurs quite frequently, especially in the first three months of pregnancy. For example, so-called implantation bleeding can occur a good week after successful fertilisation of the egg. These are usually much weaker than normal menstrual bleeding. Nevertheless, many women mistake them for periods.
Occasional light bleeding in the first trimester is usually no cause for concern. However, if you notice particularly heavy bleeding or suffer from other symptoms, such as severe pain, we recommend that you talk to your gynaecologist as soon as possible.
After all, in this case it is quite possible that the supposed period during pregnancy is caused by a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Therefore, do not take heavy bleeding and other complaints lightly and make sure you have a check-up in time.How can you increase the likelihood of pregnancy?
As you now know, you can also get pregnant during your period. Maybe you even have a desire to have a child that has not yet been fulfilled despite countless attempts and are now asking yourself what you can do to increase the likelihood of pregnancy.
In this case, it is always advisable to contact your gynaecologist. She can help you identify and correct possible problems in your lifestyle. These include abstaining from alcohol and smoking as much as possible and, if necessary, reducing stress.
If you are overweight or underweight, it may also be a good idea to make sure you are at your ideal weight for pregnancy. A balanced diet is the right choice for this purpose. However, you should avoid unhealthy food and crash diets.
You can also take folic acid supplements or other vitamins. Your gynaecologist will be happy to advise you and tell you what she thinks is best for you.
Ovulation test to determine ovulation
In order to determine your ovulation and thus your fertile days as precisely as possible, you can use a so-called ovulation test if necessary. With the help of this test, you can find out exactly when unprotected sex with your partner is most promising for your unfulfilled wish to have a child.
Such a test is used in a similar way to a pregnancy test. You can use it to measure how high the LH (luteinising hormone) concentration is in your urine. An increase in luteinising hormone can be measured in the urine about 24 hours before ovulation. To avoid missing the time of ovulation, you should start testing a few days before the likely date and do an ovulation test every day until it shows you an appropriate increase in LH concentration.
Getting pregnant during your period - our conclusion
As you can see, it is possible to get pregnant during your period. Even though the risk may be lower than on your actual fertile days, you should never go without contraception when having sex during your period. This is true at least if you don't want to have children at the moment and want to reliably avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
However, tools like an ovulation calendar are not suitable for this. Instead, use reliable contraceptives such as condoms. If you are unsure which contraceptive is right for you, talk to your gynaecologist and ask her what she recommends.