For many women, the period phase of the menstruation cycle can provide a sense of security against pregnancy. After weeks of pedantic birth control pill popping, condom applying, and constant checking of your knickers for that first spot of period blood, finally you can enjoy a few days of worry-free sex. But, before you ditch the pill, or drop the condoms (reminder: condoms are one of the best ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections), what are the chances of getting pregnant on your period? Is period sex safe? Or is the pregnancy-free zone a myth?
First, how does conception occur?
During the ovulation phase of your cycle (10 to 16 days before your next period starts), your ovaries release an egg in what is known as ovulation. Meanwhile, in the body of the male partner in your life, there is an incredible race between millions of sperm competing for the title of champion sperm. Only the single fastest and strongest sperm survives the great conception race. Some sperm are lost within the narrow fallopian tubes, others are stopped by natural obstacles within a woman’s body, and the final few simply dissolve. The winning sperm enters the woman’s egg, and that’s the story of conception.
So, what are the chances of getting pregnant on your period?
In true medical speak, anything is possible, however the chances of getting pregnant when you have your period are very slim. The entire reason you have your period is due to your egg not being fertilised by sperm. So, it’d be incredibly difficult for sperm to impregnant an egg that no longer exists.
Is period sex safe?
In any case, every individual experiences a menstrual cycle unique to them in timing, and the four phases of a menstrual cycle can overlap. When it comes to period sex, the best practice is to maintain a ‘better-safe-than-sorry’ mentality. Use condoms and back yourself with a hormonal contraceptive treatment when trying to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. We also suggest laying a towel down to avoid blood-staining your sheets.
Can I get pregnant the days after my period has finished?
Again, this is possible but unlikely. Once your period has finished, you move into your fertility window and the chance of pregnancy increases. So, if your body ovulates early or you have a shorter menstrual cycle, there is a greater risk of pregnancy.
Can I get pregnant the days just before my period?
A released egg has a lifespan of 12 to 24 hours, and your window of fertility closes soon after. That means the risk of getting pregnant during the days just before your period is low. But, on par with the rest of your cycle, pregnancy risk doesn’t completely disappear, so keep your favourite contraceptives stocked at all times.
How to know what phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in?
Whether your period follows a strict schedule, or is as unreliable as public transport, period tracking apps are your best pal when it comes to knowing where you’re at in your cycle at any given time. The best period tracking apps will provide a platform for you to log the date of your period, as well as the symptoms you’re experiencing so you know when to seek professional advice when things go off plan.
If you’re worried about irregular timing of your cycle affecting your risk of pregnancy, hormonal birth control can help. Chat to one of our trusted Aussie doctors to see if you’re eligible, today.