While you’re most likely to get pregnant while you’re ovulating, you can actually get pregnant at any point in your cycle.
Sex on your period has many benefits; it can relieve period pain, menstrual migraines and even act as lubrication. However, your period can’t substitute for birth control, and you can still get pregnant during menstruation, though the chances are considerably lowered.
You can get pregnant at any point in your cycle
You can get pregnant at any time; the key is understanding your cycle.
You are most likely to get pregnant in the middle of your menstrual cycle. This is the ovulation phase in which a mature egg is released into the fallopian tube. The egg then has 12-24 hours to become fertilised before it starts to disintegrate. If not fertilised, the body’s hormones send a signal for the uterus to shed the endometrium, and your period will begin.
The ovulation phase often begins around the 14th or 15th day of your menstrual cycle, but it can vary from person to person. Usually, it is dependant on the length of your cycle and whether or not you have regular periods.
As sperm can survive in the body for multiple days, you can also get pregnant in the three to five days leading up to ovulation. Although this chance of conception still isn’t very high, you should still practise safe sex if you don’t wish to get pregnant.
If you have a particularly short cycle or happen to ovulate early, your chances of getting pregnant straight after your period also increase.
Practise safe sex to avoid pregnancy
The best way to ensure you don’t get pregnant is to practise safe sex. There are many methods of contraception, so it may take some shopping around until you discover what works best for you.
Types of birth control include:
Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC)
LARC methods such as IUD’s and implants can be inserted into the body for birth control that lasts for many years. When it is time to change the LARC, or you want to try for a baby, the implant can simply be removed.
However, LARCs are not for everyone, and you should consult your doctor or healthcare professional before making any decisions.
Hormonal methods of birth controlsuch as the combined pill, the mini-pill, injections, contraceptive patches and vaginal rings all work by altering the body’s hormones to prevent ovulation, thicken cervical mucus, or thin the endometrium to reduce the chances of pregnancy.
Hormonal methods are some of the most common birth control methods, but they can interfere with some types of medication; booking an appointment with your doctor will help you decide whether this form of contraception is suitable for you.
Barrier methods are non-hormonal methods of birth control that aim to prevent the sperm from entering the uterus and are a safe option for those who are unable to use hormonal or LARC methods. Barrier methods include male and female condoms, vaginal sponges, spermicides and diaphragms. Many of these methods of contraceptive are also available to purchase over the counter at pharmacies.
If you do happen to have unprotected sex and don’t wish to get pregnant, it is possible to take an emergency contraceptive pill. This type of pill should be taken as soon as possible and should not be used as a substitute for regular birth control methods. Emergency contraceptive pills are hormonal pills that can be taken as one pill or two doses 12 hours apart and can delay ovulation, thicken the cervical mucus and even interfere with sperm function.
Copper IUDs are even more effective than emergency contraceptive pills and work to prevent pregnancy up to 120 hours after intercourse. This type of IUD is almost 100% effective and works for many years or until the device is removed.
To obtain emergency contraceptives, you will need to book an appointment with your doctor. Some types of emergency contraceptive pills can also interfere with other medications.
Both men and women can be sterilised, but this is a big decision that is often irreversible. Sterilisations such as tubal ligation, hysterectomies and vasectomies often require surgery. This type of birth control method is mainly offered to adults who are sure they never want to have children or have an underlying health condition.
What if you want to get pregnant?
If you are looking to get pregnant, then booking an appointment with your doctor is a good idea. Many healthcare professionals will be able to provide advice on lifestyle habits, supplements and ovulation tracking methods that will give you a better chance at conceiving.