Can You Get Pregnant During Your Period?

>> Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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A woman CAN become pregnant if she has intercourse during her menstrual cycle. This topic has been debated for many years, and most of us have heard stories from relatives or friends about someone getting pregnant during a period. In fact, I believe my own mother said she got pregnant with me during her cycle - I obviously was not planned!

While menstruation may be the least likely time of the cycle for conceiving, many studies, including one funded by the NIH (National Institute of Health), suggest that women have the potential to get pregnant at virtually any time during menstruation. Just like every woman is different, so are her hormonal balances and timing of her menstrual cycles. Any women using 'natural' birth control, like the rhythm method or checking basal body temperatures, knows how varied one’s own physiology can be from month to month. The basic rule is that there is no predictable time during the month when the risk of pregnancy is totally absent.

So let's talk about the menstrual cycle. A woman's cycle begins on the first day of menstruation, which is counted as day 1. Most cycles that are discussed are calculated on a 28-day cycle. A woman is typically most fertile on days 10-17, with ovulation usually occurring on day 14. However, only 30% of all women fit this model, and even fewer have regular periods. Even the women with the most predictable cycles do not always ovulate at the same time each month.

The fertile period in a woman lasts for about 4-6 days each month. Men are always fertile, as they have sperm readily available, and sperm can survive inside the woman's cervix for up to 4-5 days. The egg is viable for 48-72 hours after ovulation. All of these variables can create a wide range of days for pregnancy to occur. If the sperm is deposited early, it can wait around as the period finishes and conditions become perfect for conception. During lower fertile periods, a woman is most likely to become pregnant if sexual intercourse occurs at the end of her cycle, just prior to ovulation.

Unfortunately, women are under more stress now than ever, which can cause irregular bleeding during menstruation and especially at ovulation. This can be mistaken for a period, causing confusion and miscalculation of cycle length and ovulation. Stress can also lengthen the duration of bleeding, and ovulation can actually happen before the bleeding stops.

So my advice for all of you is: if you do not want to become pregnant, always use a reliable form of birth control even during your period.

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