You may have heard that becoming pregnant immediately following your menstruation is impossible. However, penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex right after a period can sometimes result in pregnancy. Find out what the experts have to say about your chances of conceiving soon after your period ends by reading on.
Getting Pregnant and Your Period
Menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase are the four stages that make up your menstrual cycle. The ovulatory phase, when a developed egg is released from an ovary and moves down the fallopian tube, is important for pregnancy but not for reproduction as a whole.
An egg has only a day to live after being released during ovulation. According to Barbara Stegmann, M.D., a triple board-certified OB-GYN and the women’s health clinical lead at Organon, sperm can live for three to five days in the reproductive system under ideal conditions. Since the egg can meet with preexisting sperm in the reproductive canal, having PIV sex during ovulation or the days prior can result in a pregnancy.
Dr. Michele Hakakha of Los Angeles is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist and co-author of the book Expecting 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy. “If a sperm doesn’t get to the egg during this time, it won’t live,” she explains. Your uterine lining will shed after 12-16 days, and you’ll have your period.
When, then, does ovulation occur? It typically begins 14 days before the start of your next menstruation. For instance, according to Orange County, California OB-GYN Lauren Sundheimer, M.D., MS, FACOG, the average ovulation day for a person with a 28-day cycle is around day 14. Ovulation occurs on day 16 for women with 30-day cycles. It all starts on day one of your period.
It’s also worth noting that cycle length varies between individuals and between individual cycles. If your menstrual cycle is erratic, you may have trouble gauging when you will ovulate because of this variance.
Conceiving Soon After Menstruation Stops
The likelihood of becoming pregnant immediately following your menstruation is low. The reproductive chemicals progesterone and estrogen, which drop off at the beginning of your period and help your uterine lining reconstruct, begin to rise as early as the third day of your menstrual cycle.
Here are a few ways in which a woman can become pregnant right after her period ends.
You have an extremely brief menstrual period.
In the pre-ovulation phase immediately following a period, an egg does not usually release, yet fertility is not completely lost. Sperm can survive in viable cervical mucus for up to five days. That gives them a few extra days to hang out before your body really releases an egg during ovulation. If your menstrual cycle is particularly brief, you may be fertile quickly after it finishes.
A woman who ovulates on day 11 of her cycle may become pregnant as early as day six of that cycle, which may be immediately following the end of her menstruation. Boston-based reproductive endocrinologist Steven R. Bayer, M.D., notes that a single-sex event during this phase is sufficient to result in pregnancy.
In reality, PIV intercourse patterns among people using ovulation tests to conceive were studied in a 2018 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Pregnancy rates were found to be highest on the two days before ovulation, with 23.6% on day two and 18.5% on day one.
Days in a cycle were miscounted.
Pregnancy is also possible if a person has PIV sex unprotected near ovulation and has miscalculated the number of days in their cycle. According to Dr. Sundheimer, the first day of red blood, rather than the last day of menstruation, should be used to establish the beginning of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Since the length of a woman’s menstruation might vary, counting the days until ovulation from the first day of her period rather than from the day bleeding stopped is more accurate. Avoid the risk of becoming pregnant from having sex too close to ovulation by following these steps.
Your period of blood loss is extremely prolonged.
Spots can appear a day or two before your period starts and often persist for a few days. This bleeding may make you mistakenly believe that you are still on your period and are not fertile. You may be closer to ovulation than you realize.
Is It Possible to Conceive During Your Period?
It’s not likely that having intercourse just after your period can result in pregnancy, but it’s possible in the following scenarios:
- You have an extremely brief menstrual period.
- Days in a cycle were miscounted.
- Your period of blood loss is extremely prolonged.
How to Handle Your Fertility After Menstruation
Getting pregnant before you’re ready is the last thing you need to worry about. Knowing your cycle and using birth control consistently throughout fertile times is crucial. If you want to avoid getting pregnant, you should have a birth control strategy (and maybe even a backup plan) in place.
Be on the lookout for minor lower stomach cramping, breast soreness, and irritability if you have unprotected PIV sex around your period and are worried that you may be pregnant. Nearer six or seven weeks of pregnancy, other common pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and exhaustion will begin to appear.
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