Period sex is great. It's not that messy if you lay down a towel, it can relieve cramps, and it can reduce the risk of pregnancy — but not always. It is possible to get pregnant if you have sex on your period, depending on the length of your ovulation cycle. Getting familiar with your body and its rhythms will give you valuable information about how your reproductive cycle works and whether having period sex with your male-bodied partner really is completely free of pregnancy risk.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, period sex significantly reduces the chances of getting pregnant. However, pregnancy can still happen. It all comes down to the length of your ovulation cycle, and whether or not you fall within the typical window of 28 to 30 days. Ovulation is the time in your period cycle when your ovary releases an egg and it moves down the fallopian tube, where it can become fertilized. In a typical reproductive cycle, ovulation will have happened two weeks before you got your period, which means that by the time your moon comes around, you won't have an egg in your uterus that's available to be fertilized. That's why, if your ovulation cycle is a typical length or longer, you can't get pregnant from having period sex.
If you have a shorter ovulation cycle, however, and you have sex during your period, it is possible to get pregnant. This is how: Those who ovulate every 21 to 24 days can ovulate four or five days after the end of their period. Sperm can also stay alive inside of you as long as five days. That means that if you have unprotected sex and someone ejaculates inside of you toward the end of your bleeding, you could conceive a few days later when you ovulate.
That doesn't mean that you should run out and buy Plan B every time you have period sex. What it does mean is that you should be familiar with your ovulation cycle so that you don't have to worry about whether or not you are pregnant. With a little bit of due diligence, you can calculate the exact dates in your cycle when you are ovulating. Just as people who are trying to conceive can figure out when is the best time to get pregnant, people who are trying to avoid pregnancy can also determine the windows of time when you should avoid having unprotected sex. This process is super empowering, because it also puts you more in touch with how your body works.
For people with an average 28-day cycle, ovulation happens around the 14th day after the first day of your period. The six days leading up to ovulation are the days when you can get pregnant, with the three days right before ovulation being the most fertile days in your ovulation cycle. Of course, most of us do not have bodies that work like clockwork, and nobody's menstruation cycle stays the same forever. Different times of your life cause the hormones that regulate your cycle to change. Sleep and stress can also cause those hormones to fluctuate. A change in your work schedule can be enough to throw your period off of its normal schedule, so it's definitely important to pay attention to how your lifestyle impacts your body's fluctuations.
If you are worried about getting pregnant from period sex, a period tracker app will help you figure out your ovulation window. Apps like Clue can tune you into variations in your cycle and help you determine exactly when you are ovulating. As an additional benefit, the information you gather from the app can also help you and your physician determine and treat a medical condition, as well as help identify signs of pregnancy early on. The more you know, the more you will be empowered in your sex life. That can't be a bad thing.
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