Have you wondered - is it possible to get pregnant from period sex, or are you using period sex to avoid getting pregnant? But how reliable is it as a birth control (or contraception method)? If it 'worked' for your for a friend or your boyfriend says so - DOES IT MEAN it will work for you?
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Period sex is what we call having sex during the days of your menstrual period (or bleeding days) in your cycle.
For some, the idea of having period sex is a no-no :given they have painful period cramps or that it's just not the best time for getting down.
Others don't mind.
And if you take away the 'messiness', some research suggests that if you have painful periods, having sex during your menstrual period could ease some pain.
But apart from the sexual pleasure, some people think there's an added benefit - contraception.
They believe it is NOT possible to be 'on a period' and get pregnant at the same time - because you can't ovulate (release) an egg at the same time as your period.
So if you can't have an egg during your period, how can you get pregnant, right?
It is true but the chances of getting pregnant can be affected by OTHER factors like your own cycle and sperm survival.
Let's look at the Menstrual Cycle.
What Happens During Your Menstrual Cycle?
Your menstrual cycle is the time from one period (or bleeding days) until he next period.
For women, the average length of a cycle ranges from 25 - 35 days with most of us averaging at about 28 days cycle length.
This is what happens during your cycle which is split into two phases - follicular and luteal.
- First, you have the bleeding segment, when the womb sheds its lining and is what we call the menstrual period or 'period'. In some women, it can last from 3 -7 days or even more, but usually, we average 4-5 days bleeding. This also makes up the first part of the follicular phase.
- Following this the follicular phase continues and the most significant activity is from your ovary follicles preparing for the release of the egg, i.e. ovulation. So follicular phase runs from the end of your bleeding till ovulation.
- Ovulation is on average for most women with a 28-day cycle around Day 14. It can change if your cycle length is shorter or longer.
- After ovulation, the egg remains viable (alive) for about 48 hours; after which we get the last phase of the cycle we call Luteal phase.
- In this segment, the womb is trying to get ready for a potential pregnancy.
- Its lining becomes a little thicker as more blood vessels and tissues grow to support a pregnancy.
- However, if fertilisation does not happen, this lining is shed at the end of the luteal phase.
- It usually happens another 14 days or so from ovulation in the average cycle after which you have another menstrual bleed or period. And the start of a new mentrual cycle.
How Could You Get Pregnant From Period Sex?
Now this is where the story can get complicated and how you could get pregnant from period sex:
- Suppose you have a short cycle and a long bleeding period. This means ovulation could happen earlier than 14 days, say day 10, 11 or 12 whil you have a longer bleeding period that lasts 6 or 7 days.
- If you have sex on the 6th or 7th day of your period, it means you have sperm in your womb, and we know sperm remain viable or alive in the womb for up to 3-7 days after sex.
- What this implies is that you could have viable sperm up to day 11 or 12 of your cycle - which is the day you ovulate because of your shortened cycle.
- And that's how you may fall pregnant with period sex!
Now the fact is that for most of those who do practice period sex, pregnancy is unlikely, but it IS possible, and this makes the method UNRELIABLE for birth control.
So, when someone tells you that you can avoid getting pregnancy from period sex - before you go ahead, know YOUR cycle!
Rather than taking chances, the options include:
Abstain from sex till you are ready; or get regular birth control.
A reminder too, that period sex does not protect you from STIs, so please use a condom which not only reduces your risk of unplanned pregnancy but STIs as well.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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