Dear Dr. Kate,
Can I get pregnant if I have unprotected sex during my period? I’ve heard that you can, but what are the odds? Especially if I’m really regular…?
An oldie but goodie. Short answer: yes, at low odds.
Long answer: If you’re really regular, you likely ovulate around day 14 of your cycle (or 14 days after you start bleeding). This means that you can get pregnant from roughly day 10 to day 15. But you never know when your ovaries decide to go into overdrive and pop out an extra egg one month — and that might be around or during your period. So the chances aren’t high, but it’s far from impossible. Add on the fact that bleeding isn’t always from a true period (but from an infection, stress, a polyp, or fibroid), and you’ll see why the chance is there.
Final answer: if you have a uterus, functioning ovaries, and an orgasming penis near your vagina, you CAN get pregnant. Even with birth control, even during your period, even right after a baby/miscarriage/abortion, even the first time you have sex. The odds may not be high, but it’s still possible.
— Dr. Kate
Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.