If you don't want to have children at the moment, you naturally don't want to get pregnant. You may be wondering when your fertile days are and how high the risk is in the days before your period. The answers to these questions are given below.
Pregnant before your period - the most important facts at a glance
- It is practically impossible to get pregnant just before your period.
- Cycle irregularities can lead to a postponement of the fertile days, which are sometimes only noticed too late.
- To safely rule out pregnancy, women should use contraception even shortly before their menstruation.
- Pregnancy is extremely unlikely during the period, unless the cycle is unusually short.
- Symptoms such as changes in basal body temperature and cervical mucus can help to detect ovulation.
- Ovulation symptoms and an ovulation test are not suitable as a contraceptive method.
The female menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle lasts between 20 and 40 days, with 28 days usually given as an average. The physical changes associated with the menstrual cycle are caused by changes in hormone balance.
The female cycle consists of four different phases.
During the period, the previously built-up lining of the uterus is shed and excreted with the menstrual blood.
In the follicular phase that follows, the follicles mature in the ovaries.
During ovulation, the follicle bursts and releases the mature egg.
In the luteal phase that follows, the lining of the uterus is built up in preparation for a possible pregnancy.
How long are a woman's fertile days?
Although it is often assumed otherwise, the fertile phase for us women is actually quite short. This is because the egg can be fertilised for just 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. If it is not fertilised during this time, it dies and is excreted with the menstrual blood during the next period.
However, this does not mean that your fertile days are actually limited to just a few hours per month. The sperm of the man can survive in the woman's body for several days. For this reason, your fertile days begin about five days before you actually ovulate.
Just before your period, a pregnancy is practically impossible
If you have sex shortly before your period starts, the egg has long since died. This means that it is practically impossible for you to get pregnant now.
This is true at least if your menstrual cycle is regular and you know approximately when you are ovulating. However, keep in mind that this is not always the case and irregularities are possible.
Cycle irregularities can have many different causes. For example, they can be caused by stress, illness or taking certain medicines. Sometimes even a holiday trip is enough to postpone ovulation.
Irregularities in the cycle can sometimes occur very suddenly. In addition, women often do not notice them, or notice them too late. Unfortunately, this inevitably means that you can ovulate at an unexpected time.
If you want to be on the safe side when it comes to contraception, you should therefore not rely exclusively on your usual cycle and use contraception in every phase of your menstrual cycle.
Can you get pregnant during menstruation?
What applies to the days just before your period also applies to menstruation itself. Pregnancy is extremely unlikely during this phase of the cycle. However, it is not completely impossible.
If the menstrual cycle is very short, it is theoretically possible that the fertile days coincide with the end of menstruation. This could be due to hormonal imbalances, for example.
In this context, please also keep in mind that bleeding does not always have to be menstrual. Light spotting can also occur in other phases of the cycle.
How can I find out when I am fertile?
To find out when your fertile days are, it can help to look out for different ovulation symptoms. This is not only useful for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy, but also in the case of an existing desire to have a child.
Ovulation can make itself felt with the following symptoms:
- Shortly before ovulation the basal body temperature drops slightly and after ovulation it rises.
- During the fertile days, the body produces more cervical mucus, which is thinner and clearer than usual.
- In about one in three women, ovulation is noticeable by a more or less pronounced mittelschmerz.
- In some women, ovulation causes slight bleeding between periods, also known as ovulation bleeding.
- The cervix is open, softer and further up in the vagina during the fertile days.
Apart from that, it is very likely that your breasts are particularly sensitive around ovulation and that you feel a striking desire for sex during your fertile days. By keeping track of several ovulation symptoms, you can get a pretty good sense of when you are ovulating and when your fertile days are.
An ovulation test is another way to find out when your fertile days are. The test measures the level of luteinising hormone (LH) in your urine. Because LH levels rise just before ovulation, an ovulation test can help you calculate your fertile days.
Note, however, that an ovulation test is not a contraceptive method. If you do not want to get pregnant, you should not rely solely on your own LH level measurement.
Don't forget contraception before and during your period
If you don't want to get pregnant, it's important to use contraception just before or during your period. If you are not sure which contraceptive method suits you best, ask your gynaecologist for advice.
Condoms are of course a good choice, not least with regard to STIs. Especially if you are not in a committed relationship, this is undoubtedly a big advantage.
As you can see, the chances of you getting pregnant just before your period are very small. However, you should still use contraception in the days before your period if you want to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
After all, unexpected cycle fluctuations can lead to a postponement of ovulation, which you may not notice until it is already too late.