A lot of women don’t feel particularly sexy or in the mood during their period, but you may be one of many who doesn’t mind – or even enjoys sex – during this time. Some people even put off having sex until they have their period to reduce the risk of pregnancy and to negate the need for a condom. Anyone who is sexually active should protect themselves from unwanted consequences, such as STIs and pregnancy, especially during casual encounters. Can you get pregnant on your period? The risk for pregnancy exists while you’re on your period, but your risk is drastically lower.
PREGNANCY AND YOUR PERIOD
To understand whether you can get pregnant during your period, you need to understand fertilization and the menstrual cycle which usually lasts 28 days starting with the fist day of your period. You might not have had comprehensive sex ed that included this information. Conception happens when a single sperm makes it way through your vagina, cervix, and uterus to your fallopian tube, where an egg is hopefully awaiting implantation every month after being released from your ovary. This happens about mid-cycle .
The egg only remains in the fallopian tube for 12 to 24 hours, however, so there’s a short window of time before the egg disintegrates and moves into the uterus. Your body will release the broken-up egg and the thickened uterine lining when you’re not pregnant, and this is your period. It can last between three and seven days usually. This timespan presents the least likelihood of pregnancy when you have sex without protection.
YOUR CHANCES OF PREGNANCY
Even for a woman who is healthy and of reproductive age, there’s only a 15% to 25% chance of pregnancy in any given month . There are a number of factors that decrease the chance of pregnancy, but we all know unplanned pregnancy can still happen.
It may be possible to get pregnant if you have sex during your period, but the egg has already moved from the fallopian tube and begun breaking down. Although this is natural, a damaged egg is going to be more difficult to fertilize. In fact, egg (and sperm) health are two factors that come into play when people are trying to conceive.
One thing to consider is that sperm can live inside your body for up to three days, so if your ovary releases a new egg, you could become pregnant from sex later during your period. However, it’s not the egg that was released with your period becoming fertilized: it’s the new egg.
Chances of pregnancy do increase for women who do not have the typical 28-day cycle. If your menstrual cycle is short, you have a greater chance of getting pregnant on your period . It’s beneficial to know when you’re ovulating, especially if you have a shorter or irregular period. While ovulation sticks are generally used for women who are trying to get pregnant, they can indicate when it’s not a good time to have sex if you don’t want to get pregnant. Find them in your local pharmacy near the feminine care products.
If you enjoy sex during your period – you may even find it helps relieve cramps, shortens the duration or feels more comfortable because of the blood – there’s no reason not to have it. However, you should still follow safe sex practices.
CAN YOU GET PREGNANT ON YOUR PERIOD? NOT WHEN YOU’RE SMART ABOUT IT!
If you’re worried about getting pregnant on your period, you can still use a form of birth control. Some people might consider a woman’s period the ideal time to have sex because they don’t have to use condoms – more on condoms in this post.
USE A BARRIER
Condoms provide a physical barrier, so you won’t need to worry about getting pregnant. Plus, condoms can make cleanup easier if you’re having sex on your period, as can a towel.
You can purchase them just about anywhere. Keep a few in your purse or nightstand so you’ll have them whenever the mood strikes.
There are other types of barrier-method birth control that you can use, but you’ll need a prescription for most of them:
- A cervical cap is placed next to your cervix during sex to prevent sperm from moving through it.
- Diaphragms work similarly, and you must insert it before sex.
- The sponge offers another method of protection, and you can use it with spermicide.
- Copper IUDs such as Paragard prevent sperm from getting to the egg in your Fallopian tube. IUDs are sometimes installed as a method of emergency contraception after unprotected sex, too.
TAKE BIRTH CONTROL
There is an entire type of birth control that we haven’t discussed yet: hormonal birth control. This includes the various birth control pills, NuvaRing, Mirena IUD, the implant and the patch, among others. The hormones in these methods prevent ovulation and thicken cervical mucus. Even though you might have your period (you’ll take an iron pill or a placebo during this week with the pill), there’s no egg and no chance of getting pregnant .
Hormonal methods may reduce or even stop your period altogether, however. This is one symptom of IUDs, so you might not know when you would have your period like you would on the pill or without any birth control. IUDs are one of the most effective types of birth control. Many women who us them don’t worry about extra protection during those days. Doubling up hormonal birth control with condoms is even more effective at preventing pregnancy no matter where you are in your menstrual cycle, however.
You can also consider pulling out when having sex during your period, but pre-cum may also lead to pregnancy if a new egg is already moving down your fallopian tube.
ALTERNATIVES TO VAGINAL SEX DURING YOUR PERIOD
Some people might ask”Can you get pregnant on your period?” simply because they don’t like period sex, which is definitely your right. It can be messy or painful, and symptoms of your period may kill your sex drive. However, you don’t need to abstain from sex completely during your period. Whether you want to avoid mess or pregnancy, try the following:
- Oral sex and anal sex feel good and don’t come with the same pregnancy risk as vaginal sex. Your man can even go down on your a long as you use a tampon.
- Mutual masturbation and outercourse are just a few of the other activities that you can substitute for vaginal sex when you’re worried about pregnancy.
- You can give your man a handjob or a blowjob. Follow our advice to give a killer blowjob.
- Focus on stimulating your clitoris during this time if you’d rather not penetrate.
- Try phone sex. It’s hands-free and can spice up your relationship!
Sex in the shower can also alleviate your worries about the potential mess from period sex. But if you don’t want to have sex at all, you should talk to your man and not blame it on your period. Our guide to sexual communication can help you with those difficult conversations. Read it here.
Can you get pregnant on your period? There’s always a small chance, and using birth control or timing your sexual activities can minimize the risk of pregnancy even further. For women who enjoy an active sex life, there’s no reason to avoid sex during their period as long as they’re not taking risks.