There are different myths and misconceptions surrounding pregnancy and periods. These misconceptions can sometimes lead to confusion and we end up doing things we should not have.
Being unaware of things like safe sex, facts related to pregnancy can lead us to trouble. So here I will talk about some common facts that everyone should be aware of when it comes to safe sex, periods and pregnancy.
Since time immemorial we have been surrounded by myth stating certain things about periods and pregnancy. You might have heard some people saying that you cannot get pregnant if you engage in sexual intercourse during your periods whereas some people say that you have the highest chance of pregnancy if you get intimate during your periods.
So whom to believe? I say no one. Trust the exact facts that are put up by medical experts after thorough research.
In this article, I am going to share with you these facts which will surely clear all your doubts. So let's begin...
Overview of periods and pregnancy relation, how does pregnancy occur and its relation to periods?
Our menstrual cycle helps our body prepare for pregnancy every month. It also makes us have our periods if we are not pregnant. Our menstrual cycle and period are controlled by hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Here’s how it all goes down:
We have 2 ovaries, and each one holds a bunch of eggs.
During our menstrual cycle, hormones make the eggs in our ovaries mature — when an egg is mature, that means it’s ready to be fertilized by a sperm cell. These hormones also make the lining of our uterus thick and spongy. So if our egg does get fertilized, it has a nice cushy place to land and start a pregnancy. This lining is made of tissue and blood, like almost everything else inside our bodies. It has lots of nutrients to help a pregnancy grow.
About halfway through our menstrual cycle, your hormones tell one of your ovaries to release a mature egg — this is called ovulation. Once the egg leaves our ovary, it travels through one of our fallopian tubes toward our uterus.
If pregnancy doesn’t happen, our body doesn’t need the thick lining in your uterus. Our lining breaks down, and the blood, nutrients, and tissue flow out of our body through your vagina. And that is what we call periods.
If we do get pregnant, our body needs the lining — that’s why our period stops during pregnancy. Our period comes back when we are not pregnant anymore.
[Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About Women Contraceptives]
How does the monthly cycle work?
Let me give you an easy description of how our menstrual cycles actually work.
- Day 1: The first day of menstrual bleeding is considered Day 1 of the cycle. Our period can last anywhere from 3 to 8 days, but 5 days is average. Bleeding is usually heaviest on the first 2 days.
- Days 6-14: Once the bleeding stops, the uterine lining (also called the endometrium) begins to prepare for the possibility of a pregnancy. The uterine lining becomes thicker and enriched in blood and nutrients.
- Day 14-25: Somewhere around day 14, an egg is released from one of the ovaries and begins its journey down the fallopian tube to the uterus.
If sperm are present in the fallopian tube at this time, fertilization can occur. In this case, the fertilized egg will travel to the uterus and attempt to implant in the uterine wall.
- Days 25-28: If the egg was not fertilized or implantation does not occur, hormonal changes signal the uterus to prepare to shed its lining, and the egg breaks down and is shed along with lining.
The cycle begins again on Day 1 menstrual bleeding.
Can Women Get Pregnant During Her Periods?
It is a common myth that women can't get pregnant when she is on her periods. Although the chances are a bit low that does not mean it is zero.
There are times when women get pregnant even if they engage in sexual intercourse during their periods. Pregnancy may occur when...
- A woman has bleeding that she thinks is a period, but it's bleeding from ovulation. Ovulation is the monthly release of an egg from a girls ovaries. It is the time when she is most likely to get pregnant if she has sex.
- Ovulation happens before the bleeding stops.
- Ovulation happens within a few days after a woman's period is over. Sperm can fertilize an egg for 3 days. So if a woman has sex on the last day of her period and ovulates in the next few days, the sperm may still fertilize the egg.
A woman’s likelihood of getting pregnant can rise and fall throughout her ovulation cycle. While the average female’s monthly cycle maybe 29 days, others may have a cycle that varies from 20 to 40 days or longer.
The likelihood that a woman will get pregnant one to two days after she starts bleeding is nearly zero. But the likelihood starts to increase again with each successive day, even though she’s still bleeding.
At roughly day 13 after starting her period, her chance of pregnancy is an estimated 9 per cent.
While these numbers may be low, it doesn’t mean a woman can ever be 100 per cent assured that she won’t get pregnant on her period.
According to some experts, sexual intercourse the day before ovulation have high chances of pregnancy.
How To Keep Track Of Your Ovulation?
Well, it becomes very important to keep a track of your ovulation to avoid unwanted pregnancy to some extent. These are the tools you can use...
Ovulation Predictor Kits
These popular over-the-counter kits measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH), which is the last of the hormones to peak when ovulation occurs. These tests pinpoint your day of ovulation 12 to 36 hours in advance and are easy to do at home.
These kits are most useful for couples having infrequent intercourse in order to be certain that sperm are present at the time of ovulation.
Some newer tests measure changes in the estrogen level in your saliva (your spit) or in the salts in your sweat, which change at different times of the month depending on what is going on with your cycle. This change in your sweat, called the chloride ion surge, happens earlier than the estrogen surge or the increase in LH and can tip you off to ovulation as much as four days in advance.
You need a special thermometer to measure your basal body temperature (BBT)—a regular thermometer will not work for this.
Your BBT is the first reading you take when you wake up in the morning before you get out of bed or do anything else at all.
Basically, your BBT is lowest just before ovulation and then rises about half a degree the day of ovulation. Tracking your BBT will tell you when ovulation has already occurred.
If you track it for a few months you may be able to tell the pattern of when you are ovulating, and thus will know the days in your cycle when you are more likely to get pregnant.
Monitor Cervical Mucus
Cervical mucus is different from the slippery fluid your vagina produces when you are sexually aroused. It is a little stickier and kind of like egg white inconsistency.
Its purpose is to prepare a safe landing zone for the sperm at ovulation and help move the sperm along to fertilize the egg.
When ovulation is getting ready to occur, your body produces more cervical mucus and it becomes thinner and clearer. Within a few days, after ovulation has happened, the mucus either dries up or becomes much thicker.
Changes in cervical mucus have been proven in studies to be good indicators of ovulation. So if you keep an eye on the changes “down there,” especially in combination with another method, you may be able to pinpoint your most fertile days.
Reseasons For Having Irregular Ovulation
Well, there are times when women face irregular periods. And the reason can be either late ovulation or early ovulation. But what does irregular ovulation actually mean?
Ovulatory disorders broadly break down into two groups: anovulation – where no ovulation at all occurs; and oligo-ovulation – where ovulation occurs infrequently or irregularly.
And the basic causes of irregular ovulation are given below:
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking can cause a shortening of your menstrual cycle. Women who smoke are also more likely to have painful periods. It can disrupt the menstrual cycle and prevent a woman from ovulating. This may mean delayed or skipped menses.
- Diet: Poor nutrition – either due to an eating disorder or not – can cause women to skip cycles. Diets high in carbohydrates may also impact menstruation.
- Stress: Being anxious and tense can impact the hormones, thereby affecting our cycle. Therefore it is extremely necessary to have a calm mind so as to avoid irregular ovulation.
- Chronic Illness: Kidney ailments, heart or liver diseases etc may hamper the menstrual cycle and thus cause irregular ovulation.
These are the factors that can lead to irregular ovulation and hence periods.
Coming to the main point, I hope this article has helped to give you an idea about periods and pregnancy. I hope you have understood that you might get pregnant if you indulge in sexual intercourse even during your periods.
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