Even for women with a regular cycle, it can be difficult to figure out at which point she is more likely to become pregnant. Because of this a common question we tend to see asked online is whether you can get pregnant in the week before your period.
Everyone is different, and it’s hard to point to when ovulation will occur from one person to the next. But it is possible yet unlikely to get pregnant the week before your period.
Why is that? And at what other points during your regular cycle are you likely or not to become pregnant? If you want the answers to these commonly asked questions, read further on!
Table of Contents
- When Is Pregnancy Most Likely?
- Can I Get Pregnant During My Period?
- Can I Get Pregnant Right After My Period?
- When Should I Take A Pregnancy Test?
- The menstrual cycle
- What If I Have An Irregular Cycle?
- Emergency Contraceptive
When Is Pregnancy Most Likely?
Pregnancy is technically only possible during ovulation. Ovulation is the term for the time during the menstrual cycle when an egg is present for fertilization, without it pregnancy is not possible. Once released, the egg will stay in the body for approximately 24 hours before being released.
Keeping that in mind, there are limited times when you can get pregnant:
- In the first 5 days before ovulation begins (sperm can survive for around 5 days in the body)
- On the day ovulation begins
- On the day immediately after ovulation began
If you are looking to get pregnant, this gives you a pretty narrow window where pregnancy is most likely. The best way to conceive is said to be right before ovulation. This gives the sperm time to reach the fallopian tube so by the time the egg is released, it is ready to be fertilized.
Can I Get Pregnant During My Period?
It is not impossible to become pregnant during your period, however, it is pretty unlikely. For this to happen your cycle would have to be timed perfectly which is pretty rare to happen.
Still, if you have sex at the end of your period and ovulation happens to occur early in the cycle then it is possible for fertilization to occur. It is a common rumor that it is impossible to get pregnant during your period, and while this rumor is based on some kernel of truth, fertilization during menstruation is possible.
Can I Get Pregnant Right After My Period?
It is still unlikely, but actually a little bit less so than if you had sex during your period. So yes, you can get pregnant right after your period has ended. This is most likely to happen if you ovulate early in the month, or if you commonly have a shorter cycle with ovulation occurring more often.
When Should I Take A Pregnancy Test?
To confirm if you are pregnant or not, you should seek out a pregnancy test. A pregnancy test is typically performed using one of two methods: either a urine test or a blood test. Both of these tests trigger a positive result if exposed to the hormone Human Chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy.
A blood test must be done in the office of your healthcare provider, but there are many different brands of at-home urine tests widely available. This is the most popular way to conduct a pregnancy test.
You should wait until the first day you miss your period to take a pregnancy test. However it is recommended you wait a few days extra, even a week or so if you want to get the most accurate result. Taking the test too soon can result in a false negative, and so it is typically better to wait.
The menstrual cycle
You probably learned all of this during the infamous “talk” in middle or grade school health class, but we will cover it again here as a refresher. The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, starting with the first day of your period, and with ovulation typically occurring somewhere around 14 days in, towards the halfway point.
The general rule of thumb is that you are likely to be most fertile at some point between days 11 and 21. After this stage, your body is technically in post-ovulation where the odds of becoming pregnant are lower than the peak at around 11 to 21 days.
What If I Have An Irregular Cycle?
Although the 28-day cycle is the standard way to keep track of most women’s menstrual cycles, most women do not tend to maintain the same schedule from one month to the next. This can make it kind of hard to figure out when exactly it will be the week before your period.
The length of menstrual cycles can vary from 21 to 35 days on average. And to further complicate things, even this number can be stretched or reduced depending on a wide swathe of individual factors. This can range from certain stress triggers and health habits to whether you are currently taking certain prescriptions.
There are many different factors to look out for and keep track of, and as many women do not tend to have regular cycles, being able to determine the point you are currently at in your cycle seems like a long shot.
Say you have had unprotected intercourse, but want to avoid a pregnancy. In this situation, you would want to take a form of emergency contraception as soon as possible. Generally, there are two main types of emergency contraceptives available: a copper IUD or the hormonal EC pill.
The IUD works to prevent pregnancy by creating a reaction that is toxic to the sperm and egg. This should be more effective than a morning-after pill, but must be inserted by a doctor within 5 days following unprotected sex. The pill works by using hormones to prevent the fertilized egg from implanting.
The pill can be purchased at most pharmacy retailers over the counter, making it a convenient and popular option for many women.
The menstrual cycle is a complicated process. Whether you are trying to conceive a pregnancy or avoid one, having an understanding of your cycle is important for maintaining proper reproductive health.
If you have any questions or concerns it’s always recommended to speak with your healthcare provider to clear up anything you may be wondering.