You can get pregnant at any moment of your cycle. So yes, also when you’re menstruating. The chance is very small, but it’s still possible. Don’t want to get pregnant? Then better take precautions, also when having sex during your period.
The length of an average menstrual cycle is about 28 days. The day your period starts is day 1. The cycle ends on the first day of your next period. About halfway through the cycle you ovulate: an egg is released from one of your ovaries. Some women feel this in the form of a twinge of pain. This is the moment you are most fertile, but beware when having sex before you ovulate: semen stays alive for about three days. To those of you now thinking ‘oh, no worries!’: only the ideal cycle is about 28 days. If you have a shorter menstrual cycle, there’s a chance that you’re still menstruating while you’re about to ovulate.
Using contraception is always a good idea. Condoms protect against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If used as indicated, the contraceptive pill prevents pregnancy, also in the pill-free week. Other forms of protection are an IUD (intrauterine device) or coil, contraceptive injections, diaphragms, patches, implants, and of course sterilisation.
There’s also a more natural way: the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). That’s when you predict your fertile and infertile times on a calendar or chart, or with a special device, helped by daily temperature readings. The Fertility Awareness Method is mostly used by women wanting to get pregnant, but nothing stops you from using it the other way around. This method is getting more and more effective. But be aware though: you have to make an effort to let the FAM method succeed.
The moral of the story is: don’t take any risks. And if you’re wondering whether you could be pregnant, visit your GP immediately.
It is also possible for women to bleed when they’re pregnant. This isn’t menstrual blood, it’s called implantation bleeding.