Can a Woman Get Pregnant While on Period?

By BSc, MSc (embryologist) and BA, MA (fertility counselor).
Last Update: 10/06/2017

Even if you do not engage into sexual intercourse during your fertile window, you are still likely to get pregnant if you had unprotected intercourse whilst on your period. However, it is rather unlikely, as it is uncommon for a woman to ovulate and menstruate all at the same time.

It is commonly believed that a woman is less likely to get pregnant on her period, and that she can have intercourse safely during those days. Yet, many women are filled with doubts regarding the truthfulness of this statement. As stated earlier, chances are that, if you are on your period, pregnancy does not occur. There are, however, certain situations in which a woman can get pregnant if she had unprotected sex during her period.

So, firstly, let us make it clear when is a woman most fertile. Secondly, we will explain in detail in which situations is a woman most likely to get pregnant when on her period.

Provided bellow is an index with the 7 points we are going to expand on in this article.

When is a woman most fertile?

The ovaries release an egg halfway through the menstrual cycle, which is to say, between days 12 and 15 of the cycle. So, keeping this in mind, it is at this point when a woman is most likely to become pregnant, as she is on her fertile days.

It is estimated that the 14th day of the menstrual cycle is the most fertile day of a woman's cycle, assuming that we are referring to females with regular, 28-day menstrual cycles.

To sum up, in the case of women with irregular periods, the following are their approximate fertile days based on their cycle length:

24-day cycle
day 5 through day 10.
30-day cycle
day 11 through day 16.
35-day cycle
day 16 through day 21.

Fertilization occurs when a sperm reaches the egg, and they fuse together. In the meanwhile, the fertilized oocyte descents through the Fallopian tubes toward the uterus. If fertilization does not occur, the egg is expelled during menstruation.

In short, to get pregnant while on your period, ovulation must occur previously. This possibility is explained in detail hereunder.

Why can a woman get pregnant during her period?

As explained above, in principle, a woman will not get pregnant if no egg has been released. However, actually the duration of the menstrual period is not always the same in every woman.

Although in the majority of the cases, it lasts 28 days, other women have shorter periods—23 to 25 days, for instance. In these cases, the chances are that the woman ovulates before her period has even ended. As a matter of fact, the shorter the menstrual cycle, the fewer the number of days during which having unprotected intercourse is safe.

In the chart below, you can see an example of a woman with a short menstrual cycle of 24 days. As one may be able to appreciate, a woman in this situation may have her menstrual bleeding for the first 7 days. If she has unprotected sex during the final days of her period (e.g. on day 6), we should take into account that sperms can survive within the female reproductive tract for 3-4 days more.

This means that, even on days 9 and 10 of the menstrual cycle, the woman would still have sperms inside her body. So, as one can see in the chart below, the likelihood of getting pregnant during these days is still high.

In women with irregular menstrual periods, it is rather difficult to predict what are their most fertile days or weeks to engage into unsafe intercourse.

Another factor that can cause a woman to ovulate outside her ovulation period is stress, which in general contributes to altering the overall functioning of the body.

Sperm quality is another factor that affects the chances of pregnancy. Obviously, the higher the quality of the sperm, the higher the likelihood of getting pregnant. If the man has refrained from sexual intercourse during the days prior to intercourse, it is more likely that the woman falls pregnant.

Age is another factor influencing a woman's possibilities of achieving pregnancy: many differences can be found between younger (e.g. 18 to 15 years) and older couples, say 42 years old. Needless to say, an unwanted pregnancy is most likely to occur in the former case rather than in the latter.

Can I get pregnant during mid cycle bleeding?

If metrorrhagia appears, it might lead to confusion, and lead the woman to believe that it is her period, when it is not.

Metrorrhagia is defined as having a vaginal bleeding that comes from the womb, often caused by the presence of an infection or cyst.

As a consequence, you might end up not knowing in which moment of your menstrual cycle you find yourself, and getting pregnant by accident. For these reasons, it is of utmost importance that, if you do not want a pregnancy to occur, you consider using birth control methods during intercourse. All in all, a woman can get pregnant anytime during her cycle.

FAQs from users

Can a woman get pregnant 2 days after her period?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, especially in women with short menstrual periods. As one can see in the chart above, ovulation can start as early as 2 days after your period in cycles which duration is 23 to 25 days.

Can you get pregnant a week before your period?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, including 2 or 3 days before period, although it is the least fertile period in most of the cases. However, the more irregular the woman is, the higher the chances for getting pregnant right before your period. As stated above, the safest is to use a condom or any other birth control method to make sure that an unwanted pregnancy does not occur.

Learn more about contraceptives here: What are the most common birth control methods?

Can you get pregnant on your period on the pill?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

As long as you have been taking the pill correctly and consistently each day, you are protected from pregnancy even during the placebo week. The pill and other hormonal birth control methods work by preventing your ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation). So, if there is no egg, pregnancy cannot occur, including during the off week.

What are the chances of getting pregnant on your period from precum?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Generally, the chances of getting pregnant while on your period are low. So, keeping this in mind, they are even lower if ejaculation does not occur inside your vagina.

Can you take a pregnancy test while on period?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, if you suspect that you may be pregnant and cannot distinguish between PMS and pregnancy symptoms due to the similarity between them, you can take a pregnancy test to clear your doubts.

The fact that you have your period does not interfere with the accuracy of pregnancy tests. Keep in mind that pregnancy tests do not use estrogen to determine whether you are pregnant or not, but they measure the amount of hCG in your urine, which does not vary even if you take the test while on period.

Can you get pregnant by kissing while on your period?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

No, pregnancy cannot occur if there is no vaginal penetration, irrespective of whether you are on your period or not. Without penetration, sperms will never reach the egg.

Can you get pregnant on your period in the shower?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

If there is vaginal penetration, the chances for you to become pregnant after having intercourse on your period in the shower are the same as if it happened at another place. The chances are very low, but remember that women can get pregnant anytime during their menstrual cycle.

Can you get pregnant late in your cycle?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, as seen above, women who have 30-day cycles ovulate on day 11 through 16 approximately. In the case of women with 35-day cycles, they are expected to release an egg on day 16 through 21. So, in short, yes, you can get pregnant late in your cycle if you have irregular menstrual periods.

Can a woman get pregnant and get her period?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

No, a woman can't have her menstrual period while she is pregnant. Some women may, however, have vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, which can be confused with menstrual bleeding. Menstruation only happens when you are not pregnant.

Each month, the uterine lining (endometrium) grows to prepare for an egg to embed there. If pregnancy does not occur, the woman sheds this tissue and bleeds, and that is what we know as menstrual period.

Can you get pregnant after your period stops for menopause?

By Sara Salgado BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, a woman who is perimenopausal still has some chance of becoming pregnant during perimenopause because her ovulation has not stopped yet. However, this is a period of hormonal fluctuations, which make conception complicated. Keep in mind that, at this point, the woman has experienced a significant reduction in the quantity of her eggs.

Suggested for you

We have made reference to the possibility of the sperms to survive inside the female's body for a few days after ejaculation. What do you know about their journey until they get to the egg? Learn about it with this guide: How sperm meets egg with pictures.

Another frequently asked question about female fertile is related to having your menstrual period and ovulate all at the same time. Is it actually possible? Find it out here: Ovulation and menstruation at the same time.

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 Sara Salgado
Sara Salgado
BSc, MSc
Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Master's Degree in Human Assisted Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Certificate of University Expert in Genetic Diagnosis Techniques from the University of Valencia (UV). More information about Sara Salgado
Adapted into english by:
 Sandra Fernández
Sandra Fernández
Fertility Counselor
Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting (English, Spanish, Catalan, German) from the University of Valencia (UV) and Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton Campus (Edinburgh, UK). Postgraduate Course in Legal Translation from the University of Valencia. Specialist in Medical Translation, with several years of experience in the field of Assisted Reproduction. More information about Sandra Fernández

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