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Can I get pregnant during my period?

But it’s my period…

You may have heard something like it’s impossible to get pregnant on your period. It’s sort of true, sort of not. It’s extremely unlikely for conception to occur during the menstrual period. However, that doesn’t mean that having sex during your period won’t result in pregnancy.

Wait, what?  Yes, it is indeed possible to get pregnant from sex occurring during a period.

Two factors play into this:

  1. Sperm can survive up to five days inside the female reproductive tract.
  2. Ovulation does not always occur on Day 14, as legend tells it.

How the Cycle Works

The Textbook Woman has a 28-day cycle. Once a month, one of the ovaries in a woman’s body releases an egg.  Sperm could fertilize that egg as a result of sex and cause a pregnancy. This process, called ovulation, typically happens around day 14 for the Textbook Woman. However, not everybody is a Textbook Woman. Ovulation can happen on different days for different women, and even the same woman can have very different cycle lengths. Multiple factors contribute to the ovary releasing an egg earlier or later than usual, including stress, changes in diet or exercise, and travel. So if you either have consistently shorter cycles or just a random short cycle, that means you would ovulate significantly earlier than Day 14.

If a woman is having a shorter or longer cycle than normal, the difference is going to be in the days between when her last period ends and when one of the ovaries releases an egg. The time between the day the egg is released and the start of her next period is going to stay the same.

For example…

Let’s say our fictitious friend Martha had a 22-day cycle. Remember that the time between the day an ovary releases the egg and the first day of the next period generally remains the same from period to period (12-16 days depending on the woman). Therefore, the difference in cycle lengths comes from the days in between the period and ovulation. For Martha’s shorter cycle, that means she could have ovulated as early as Day 6. Because sperm can survive up to five days inside the female reproductive system, Martha could get pregnant from sex she had during her period.

The more you know

It’s important to be aware of the way your body works in order to achieve or avoid pregnancy. There are a lot of misconceptions (pun intended) about how the female reproductive system works, so do all you can to learn the truth from the myths.

If you think you may be pregnant, know that you don’t have to settle for a lack of information about your body. To learn more about pregnancy and get the resources you need, including a pregnancy test or ultrasound, click here for more info or call Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic in Kirksville, MO at 660-665-5688. All our confidential services are offered at no cost.

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Why is my Period Late?

Sometimes it feels like our bodies play tricks on us, especially when it comes to our cycles. Periods don’t ever seem to come when we want them to, do they? Whether you’re trying to conceive, trying to avoid pregnancy, or indifferent about the whole thing, when your period doesn’t arrive “on time,” often the first thought that comes to mind is…Am I pregnant??

If you really are pregnant, a missed period would be right on target. At Lifeline we offer confidential pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, and more at no cost. We’d love to talk with you!

However, there are plenty of other reasons your period could be late. Consider the following possible issues that may or may not be affecting your cycles:

  • Stress.

    Life is real, and there will be stressors along the way. Because stress can put our bodies into “fight or flight” mode, releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to help your body determine what functions are necessary, your menstrual cycle could be put on the back burner. The heart and lungs often receive the most attention during stress (which is why you may feel your heart race and your breathing quicken). This can lead to changes in the menstrual cycle, such as a late period. Even positive life changes like getting married, moving, a new job schedule, and travel have been known to cause delayed periods.

  • Weight loss or gain.

    Women who are either underweight or overweight may experience irregular cycles. Again, this has to do with the body’s survival mode. If a woman does not have enough body fat or exercises excessively and doesn’t take in enough calories, her body may not feel like it’s able to carry a baby. The same goes for women who are overweight; the body may even produce too much estrogen, causing a hormonal overload that prevents ovulation and causes the uterine lining to overgrow. When a period eventually arrives, it may be heavier than usual.

  • Illness.

    If you were sick around the time when ovulation was supposed to occur, your body also may have focused on survival and ignored the menstrual cycle. When the body is busy fighting off infection, normal processes like a period might not happen.

  • Hormonal issues.

    Irregular periods could be a sign of thyroid issues, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), or other chronic illnesses. If you’re experiencing any other symptoms like weight loss or gain, change in energy levels, hair growth, or appetite, talk with your doctor as soon as possible to address any underlying issues.

  • Medication.

    If you’ve recently gone off hormonal birth control and have missed a period, don’t fret. It often takes a few months for the cycle to return to normal. Likewise, if you’ve recently started hormonal birth control, it can take time for your cycles to become regular. Emergency contraception similarly may affect ovulation, and in turn when your period comes (or doesn’t). Other medications, such as some antidepressants, antipsychotics, and chemotherapy drugs may influence the cycle.

  • Perimenopause.

    The average age of menopause is 52, but some younger women may have symptoms similar to those occurring during menopause, including irregular cycles, hot flashes, mood swings, and difficulty sleeping, as early as 10 to 15 years before menopause actually happens. This is known as perimenopause. What this means is that the supply of eggs is dwindling down, and causing a decrease in ovulation and irregular periods.

One or several of these could be causing changes in your cycles. A missed period once in a while is normal and not a cause for concern. However, whether you could be pregnant or not, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any bodily changes to ensure that you’re getting the best care possible.


Having said all this, a late period could also mean pregnancy!   

If you think you could be pregnant, Lifeline is here to help. We offer confidential, no-cost pregnancy tests. Call 660-665-5688 for more information about our services, or make an appointment online.

Make an Appointment

by Kathryn Farmer
Resources: Healthline, Medical News Today, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting.


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Kirksville, MO 63501
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