There are a certain number of questions that seem to get recycled over and over again, either amongst friends or on the internet. One that seems to get a lot traction is the issue of whether or not a woman can get pregnant while menstruating.
As with so many things in life, the explanation is not that intuitive. The best way to explain it is that the answer lies in the wording of the question. More precisely, it’s essentially impossible for a woman to conceive during her period, but on rare occasions it’s possible for a woman to get pregnant from intercourse during her period. Huh? Isn’t that the same thing?
No, no it isn’t.
Since sperm can live for up to five days inside a woman, a couple could have sex near the end of her period, and the sperm could then live long enough to fertilize an egg that is released several days later, if the woman had a very early ovulation. (Conception is also more likely in these cases if intercourse occurs at the end of a 6- or 7-day menstruation.) It’s also possible that women who think they got pregnant from intercourse during their period were actually having sex during ovulatory spotting.
So if you are charting your cycles in order to avoid pregnancy, it is critical that you understand the Fertility Awareness Method rules discussed in my book, which I’ve spent the better part of my adulthood trying to avoid several near breakdowns while making it as clear and intuitive as possible.