Can You Get Pregnant When You Have Your Period?

Hi Heather,

I’ve been dating this guy for a long time and sometimes we have sex when I have my period. I always thought it was a great idea because I heard that you can’t get pregnant when you have your period. We usually use condoms anyway, but my last period was pretty light, so we decided to forget about the condom. I’m not on birth control, by the way. I told my best friend what we did and she started freaking out, saying I could still get pregnant. Now I’m really, really worried. Can you get pregnant when you have your period??

I don’t want to make you panic, but… yes, your friend is right. There is still a possibility that you can get pregnant even when you have your period. The risk is very low, but the important thing is that it can still happen, which is exactly why you always need to use a condom, especially if you’re not using an alternate method of birth control like the Pill.

I know it sounds crazy – how can you get pregnant during your period?! – but it’s true. Here’s the deal: while it’s highly unlikely for it to happen, there are certain circumstances that can occur that can make it totally possible to get preggers during your special time of the month. Quick bio lesson time!

You get pregnant when his sperm and your egg meet in your fallopian tube. An egg can survive in your fallopian tube for about 24 hours after it’s been released and sperm can survive for up to five days (under the best conditions) in your body. So, if you have a particularly short menstrual cycle and you start ovulating very shortly after your period, you could be in trouble.  If the sperm happens to be surviving down there while the egg arrives… boom. Pregnant.

It’s important to note that it’s also entirely possible to confuse spotting for your period. Spotting is bleeding in between periods and if your menstrual cycle tends to be a little unpredictable, it’s really easy to think you’re getting your period when actually you’re just experiencing breakthrough bleeding.

It’s totally fine to have sex when you have your period, but please continue to use protection. Not only are you not safe from getting pregnant, but you’re also still not safe from STDs or STIs! Always use a condom when you’re having sex and if you’d like to be extra protected, consider a second birth control method.

take care,

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