Can you get pregnant during your period?

You may have heard you can’t get pregnant on your period, but that’s not entirely true. Although you’re unlikely to get pregnant around or during your period, there is still a small chance you can conceive this time of the month. Read on to learn about your chances of getting pregnant and how your menstrual cycle affects your fertility window.

  • Your chances of getting pregnant during your period are very low
  • However, it is still possible to get pregnant if you have sex without contraception.
  • You are at your most fertile when you ovulate, which happens around 10 to 16 days before your next period.
  • You may ovulate earlier if you have a short cycle.
  • Sperm can survive in your body for up to 5 days and can fertilise the egg once it’s released
  • You are at your least fertile in the days just before your period, but there is still a small risk of pregnancy
  • Find the right form of contraception for you if you do not want to be pregnant

What are the chances I can get pregnant on my period?

The chances of getting pregnant if you have sex during your period are very low. However, if you’ve had unprotected sex, it is still possible to get pregnant during your period.

To understand how this can happen, you need to know how your menstrual cycle works. 

  • Your cycle starts on the first day of your period and lasts until the first day of your next period.
  • About 10 to 16 days before the start of your next period, you will ovulate, which is when one of your ovaries releases an egg.
  • Once you’ve ovulated, you enter the Luteal phase, when the now empty follicle develops the corpus luteum, which produces the hormone progesterone. 
  • The lining on your uterus thickens in preparation for a fertilised egg to implant.
  • If you have not conceived, then the egg passes into the uterus, hormone levels drop, and the womb lining sheds as you begin your next period.

You can read more about your menstrual cycle and ovulation here

You are at your most fertile around the time you ovulate. Although the egg lives only for 12 to 24 hours after being released, you can get pregnant even if you have sex days before you ovulate as sperm can live up to five days in your body.

So how likely are you to get pregnant during your period? Well, it depends on a few factors like: 

  • whether you used contraception or not
  • the length of your menstrual cycle
  • the length of your period
  • when you had sex 

Typically menstrual cycle length is between 28 and 30 days, so you are usually fertile between days 11 and 21, although this can vary between cycles and from woman to woman. If your period lasts 5-7 days and you have sex towards the end, you may be able to conceive on day 11, as sperm can survive up to 5 days after intercourse. 

You can also conceive after having sex during your period if you have short menstrual cycles, as this means you ovulate a few days earlier, and closer to the end of your period.

Getting pregnant when you are on your period is very unlikely. However, there is a small chance you can conceive this time during your cycle.

Can I get pregnant a couple of days after my period has finished?

It’s possible, but also unlikely. Though there is always risk of pregnancy if you have sex without contraception a. If you ovulate early – when you have short menstrual cycles – you may be able to get pregnant this time of the month. However, once you’ve finished your period you’re moving into your fertility window, which means your chances of getting pregnant increase as you approach ovulation.  

Can I get pregnant just before my period?

The probability of conceiving if you have sex two or three days before your period is extremely low. Since your egg lives for around 12 to 24 hours after it is released, this means your fertility window closes soon after you ovulate. However, there is always a risk of pregnancy. Use our tool to calculate the chances of getting pregnant.   

What can I do to get pregnant?

If you want to get pregnant, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Many doctors will advise a few lifestyle changes if you’re trying for a baby, such as taking a folic acid [link to folic acid article] or prenatal vitamin supplements, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and trying to maintain a healthy weight. You may also want to use an ovulation test to help you identify when your most fertile days are. You can see our range of ovulation tests and fertility monitors here to help you maximise your chances of conceiving. 

Also, see our tips on how to get pregnant faster

I don’t want a baby right now, what should I do?

If you don’t want to get pregnant, there is no safe time to have sex without contraception. Talk to your doctor about your options for contraception  to find the right one for you. If you are looking for a natural method, you may be interested in trying the Persona Contraception Monitor, which works by monitoring hormones in your urine to indicate when you are at risk of becoming pregnant.