Had sex during period without a condom? You may be worried about pregnancy. But is it possible to get pregnant during periods?

You may have wondered at least once if it is safe to have sex during periods. The answer is yes, it is generally safe to have sex during menstruation. But it is important to consider your own comfort level, hygiene and any potential health concerns. You may also worry about conceiving by having sex during your periods. Conception, also known as fertilisation, occurs when a sperm cell from a male successfully fertilises an egg cell from a female. So, does having sex during periods increase your chances of getting pregnant? Read on to know if you can get pregnant during periods.

Can you get pregnant if you have sex during periods?

A 2013 study published in the Human Reproduction journal revealed that it is unlikely for a woman to get pregnant by having sex during periods. But it can still happen. Nearly 6,000 people participated in the study that found that the chance of conception rises seven days after the last period. But researchers also found a two percent probability of “being within the fertile window” at day four of the menstrual cycle, when many women are still in the middle of their period.

Woman holding a period calendar and a tampon
Getting pregnant during periods is unlikely. Image courtesy: Freepik

Gynaecologist Dr Sriprada Vinekar says the likelihood of pregnancy occurring from sex during menstruation is generally low, but not impossible. Here are some factors to consider:

1. Timing

Pregnancy typically occurs when sperm fertilises an egg released during ovulation. While ovulation typically occurs around the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle, the exact timing can vary. Some women may have shorter menstrual cycles, which means ovulation could occur closer to the end of their period. In such cases, there could be a higher chance of pregnancy from sex during menstruation.

2. Sperm survival

Sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for several days after ejaculation. If a woman ovulates shortly after her period ends, there could still be viable sperm present to fertilise the egg.

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3. Irregular menstrual cycles

Irregular periods can make it difficult to predict ovulation. This can make it harder to determine when it is safe to have unprotected sex, says the expert. Various factors such as stress, medications, and hormonal imbalances, can affect menstrual cycles and ovulation, potentially increasing the risk of pregnancy from sex during periods.

Can you get pregnant right before or after period?

Factors such as menstrual cycle length, sperm survival, early ovulation, and irregular cycles influence the chances of getting pregnant before or after period, says Dr Vinekar. Women with shorter cycles may ovulate sooner after their period, increasing the risk.

Woman having period cramps
Use contraception methods to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Image courtesy: Freepik

It is important to be informed about your reproductive health and to use appropriate contraception methods to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

What are the best birth control methods?

There are several birth control methods that can be used during sex while menstruating to prevent pregnancy. These include:

1. Condoms

Condoms are barrier methods that provide protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They can be used during menstruation and are readily available.

2. Internal condoms

Also known as female condoms, internal condoms are inserted into the vagina before sex to prevent pregnancy and STIs. They can be used during menstruation and offer protection for both partners, says the expert.

3. Birth control pills

Combination birth control pills (containing estrogen and progestin) or progestin-only pills can be taken continuously to suppress menstruation and prevent ovulation. This method requires taking a pill every day at the same time to maintain effectiveness.

4. Birth control patch

The contraceptive patch is worn on the skin and releases hormones similar to those in birth control pills. It can be used continuously to suppress menstruation and prevent ovulation.

5. Birth control implant

A small, flexible rod containing progestin is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It provides long-term contraception for up to three years and may cause changes in menstrual bleeding patterns, including lighter or absent periods.

Check with a doctor to determine the most suitable birth control method for you.

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