Chances of Pregnancy Before, During and After Periods

A young woman with a pregnancy test in her hand

Pregnancy and the birth of a baby can evoke varying reactions in people, ranging from joy and anticipation to horror and fear. This is mostly dependent on the timing of the pregnancy – some women may be financially and personally comfortable enough to take on the responsibility of having a child, while some women might prefer to wait a while before embracing parenthood. Whether you’re looking to conceive (or prevent conception), timing is everything. Here, we discuss what the chances are of you getting pregnant any time before, during, or after your periods.

How Does Pregnancy (Conception) Occur?

A pregnancy occurs when a mobile sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell and the fertilised egg gets implanted in the uterus. To do this, the sperm cell must swim up from the vagina and into the fallopian tube via the cervix. After fertilisation, the egg cell travels from the ovary to the uterus via the fallopian tube. Here, it attaches itself to the lining of the uterus. Soon after, the remaining processes that are part of pregnancy follow suit.

Conception can happen at any time, from a few hours after intercourse to 5-7 days after sex. The fastest-swimming sperm may zero in on the egg in just about 45 minutes while slower swimmers may take up to 12 hours to navigate the same journey. Sperm cells can take a break for up to 7 days in the hospitable environment of the fallopian tube and still do their primary job of fertilizing the ovum. This happens if ovulation happens 7 days after sex. This means that if at any time in this window of opportunity an egg is released, the sperm has a chance of fertilizing it.

So, we can see that in the action of conception, there are various markers that have to be met:

  • There must be a mobile sperm cell
  • There must be a viable egg
  • They must meet at some time
  • Conception is most probable if when the sperm reaches the uterus, it meets with a viable egg.
  • This is logically most probable if a woman has sex when there is a viable egg in the uterus

The time when the uterus hosts a viable egg is called ovulation. This time window around ovulation is, thus, a time when conception is most possible.

Chances of Getting Pregnant Before Your Period

a fertility chart

Can a woman get pregnant right before her period? For the sake of this question, let us assume that this refers to the week leading up to the period. In this scenario, we also need to assume that the woman in question is aware of her period cycle.

In that case, unless she is ovulating in that week, it is highly unlikely that sex that takes place during that week will lead to conception. Typically, a woman’s most fertile period to get pregnant is the period lasting from five days before her ovulation to ovulation itself. Unless this time matches with the week before her period, fertilization cannot happen. The rare case where this can happen is when a woman has a very short cycle of about 19-22 days, where it is possible that sex before periods can lead to a pregnancy.

If you are trying to get pregnant and are wondering, ’Can I get pregnant after ovulation but before my period?’, the answer is yes, you can. While the chances are low, it is certainly not impossible.

Chances of Getting Pregnant During Your Period

Is it possible for a woman to get pregnant during her periods? Well, this depends on the woman, the length of her period, its regularity and the time of her ovulation.

If you’re also wondering whether you can get pregnant while you’re menstruating and whether having sex during your period can lead to a pregnancy, the answer is yes if the following hold true for you:

  • Your period is regular.
  • It lasts for up to 5-7 days.
  • The time between your cycles is short (approximately 20-23 days).
  • You ovulate around the 10th to 12th day of your cycle.

In all these situations, the sperm that has entered your body during sex while having a period can fertilize an egg and you can get pregnant.

Tips on Having Sex During Your Period

Having sex during your period offers several benefits. For one, it acts as a natural painkiller (for some people) to get relief from cramps and headaches. It also eliminates the need for additional lubricant, and thanks to hormonal fluctuations, you may feel more turned on than usual during your period. While period sex can be a slightly more messy and uncomfortable experience than regular sex, the tips below can help make it a lot better!

  1. First off, if you want to avoid the chances of getting pregnant at all, have your partner put on a latex condom. This also helps keeps any STIs at bay.

  2. If you use tampons while on your period, make sure you take it out.

  3. Cover your bed with dark and thick towels to catch leaking blood. This will help keep your sheets clean!

  4. Keep wet washcloths or wipes right by your bedside so that you can use them when you’re done.

  5. It’s important that you communicate openly to your partner about your needs and concerns. If you’re uncomfortable with anything, make sure you let your partner know. You can work things out and find out (creative) solutions to the problem that might just make period sex more fun!

Chances of Getting Pregnant After Your Period

You can get pregnant after your period ends; in fact, the fertile days last for up to 3-5 days after the end of your period. Regular sex, on alternate days or every day is recommended if you’re planning to conceive. This should be continued up until a few days after the halfway mark of the period. For example, if the halfway mark is 14, 6 days before and 4 days after are considered ideal.

Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle

Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle

Most women have a cycle that lasts for 28-32 days, while other women have cycles much shorter or longer than this average.

Understanding the ovulation period for pregnancy is important. It is measured near the halfway mark of the length of the period and is counted for a 28-day period. Normally, this is between day 10 and 15. During this period cycle, pregnancy is most likely to happen. Ovulation is the time when a woman will be most fertile and sex during ovulation increases the chances of conception. The chances of a pregnancy occurring during a woman’s menstrual cycle are higher during the 5 days that lead up to day 10 and continue from days 16 to 21. Ovulation can generally be gauged by a difference in vaginal secretions which resemble egg whites. Basal temperatures are also higher at this time.

Factors That Affect Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

What are the factors that affect your odds of getting pregnant? How can you make the odds turn in your favour or alternatively, make sure that conception does not happen? Read on to find out.

1. Maternal Age

The chances of getting pregnant which are around 15 – 25% in your 20s goes down in your 30s and become much lower in your 40s. So, if you really want a good shot at carrying a baby, start early.

2. Having Regular Periods

Menstrual periods which come at irregular intervals make it very difficult to predict the time of ovulation and thus, the right time to have sex for conception.

3. Too Much Sex or Too Little

The frequency of having sex is obviously important but strangely enough, sex every day may be less effective than on alternate days. It’s important to give men recovery time and make the act seem like less of a mechanical necessity or a chore.

4. Timing of Seeking Medical Attention

If a couple has been having regular sex for up to a year without being able to conceive, they should see a medical professional and rule out sexual health issues.

5. Ruling Out Other Medical Conditions

Any illness or medical condition which either partner is suffering from will affect conception.

Misconceptions About Pregnancy During Your Period

Many myths and misconceptions surround the act of conception and its relation to a period. Let us clarify some of them:

1. It Is Not Possible to Conceive Right After Your Period

The most common misconception is that sex just before or right after your period cannot result in conception. As we’ve covered earlier, it is all about the individual’s cycle and being able to predict the approximate time of ovulation.

2. Sex Every Day Is Better for Conception

The myth that more sex is equal to better chances of conception is not correct. While regular sex obviously grants people better odds of conceiving, as with everything in life, quality is better than quantity. One sperm cell is enough to ensure conception and each ejaculation contains thousands of sperm cells. Therefore, it is not the number of times that sex occurs, but the quality of the sperm that matters – their mobility and the health of their DNA is what affects conception. Even ejaculating once is enough to conceive if it is timed right during the woman’s ovulation period and if the individual sperm cells are healthy swimmers.

3. Previous STDs Do Not Impact the Chances of Conceiving

The damage to sexual organs from previous sexually transmitted diseases can seriously impact fertility. Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhoea can adversely affect the fertility of both men and women. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID is a particularly serious condition and can permanently damage the uterus and the fallopian tubes.

4. Some Sexual Positions Are Better Than Others for Conceiving

Since it is very difficult to gather data on sexual positions and their relation to conception, it is a matter that is left to comfort and individual preference.

5. The Woman’s Orgasm Has No Effect on Conception

A woman’s orgasm during sex is, according to many experts, a very good thing. With the rhythmic contractions of the vaginal muscles, the uterus assists the sperm’s journey to the egg. It also increases the blood supply and hormone secretion in that area to increase the chances of a successful conception.

6. Fertility Does Not Depend on the Age of the Couple

The prime reproductive age of humans has been found to be the ages between the 20s and the 30s. There will be a slight fall in fertility levels after the age of 35 and a sharp fall after that. After this, that is, any time during the age of 40 and above, the chances of a healthy unassisted pregnancy without complications, such as a miscarriage and genetic abnormalities, are quite low. This is true for both men and women.

Signs of Successful Conception

positive Pregnancy Test

The signs of successful conception are often missed. Since the signs of pregnancy vary so much when it comes to each individual pregnancy, some women might be confused as to whether they’re pregnant or not. While some women may identify the signs very easily, others may not, such as those who have irregular periods and are used to missing their periods. The most common signs of pregnancy are:

All these signs appear at varying times and in some cases, not at all. Hence, the pregnancy needs to be confirmed with pregnancy tests – either an OTC or a lab test, and a medical examination.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Trying to Get Pregnant

1. Timing

Having sex at the wrong time is the first mistake people do. If they calculate the time of ovulation right and plan regular sex in the time leading up to and after ovulation, they will have better chances of succeeding.

2. Not Seeing the Doctor Early Enough

A couple who has been having regular sex every 2-3 days for a year and has had no luck conceiving should plan to see a doctor at the earliest. A test may be needed for both the partners for any sexual health as well as general health issues.

3. Seeing the Doctor Too Soon

It is normal to take up to a year to achieve successful conception. Seeing the doctor within 6-8 months of having regular sex generally means that a couple is worrying too much about conception. This worry can, in turn, affect conception.

4. Unhealthy Habits

Drinking, smoking, doing drugs, excessive exercising, and overworking are all unhealthy habits that can impact your health, fertility and sexual health. They can impact the health of your sperm, egg, and reduce your chances of conceiving.

5. Using Sexual Lubricants

Not all sexual lubricants are sperm-friendly so using a lubricant that does not contain a spermicide is ideal. It will also not hurt to check out lubricants which simulate the natural features of the vagina during ovulation. This might help the sperm to stay alive and stick around in the fallopian tube for longer.

6. Having Sex Everyday

Sex everyday may lead to a decrease in sperm count, turn sex into a chore rather than a pleasurable activity, and put more pressure on the partners. Indulging in intercourse every alternate day would be a better choice.

7. Not Checking for Issues With the Male Partner’s Sexual Health

Automatically assuming that the problem is with the woman is a mistake. 40% of fertility problems are because of the male partner. Testing both partners is integral for the correct identification of sexual health problems and eradicating them so that successful conception can occur.

8. Trying Very Late in Life

The difference in fertility goes down by almost 50% from your 20s to your 40s. If you really want a child, it is better to try while you have better chances for success.

When it comes to conception, timing is almost everything – but only almost! There are still several other factors that can affect your chances of being able to get pregnant. Make sure you take the necessary precautions and measures to achieve your objective and stay healthy.

Also Read:

Chances of Getting Pregnant on Birth Control
Pregnancy after Abortion
How to Get Pregnant with an Irregular Period?
Is it Possible to Get Pregnant without Ovulation?
Can You Get Pregnant Without Having a Period?