Two of the most common questions women have about their periods and conception are whether it’s possible to get pregnant either (1) during  menstruation or (2) without actually having periods altogether.

Today I’ll address the issue of whether or not a woman can get pregnant during her period. Surprisingly, in many ways, the answer lies in the wording of the question. More precisely, it’s unlikely that a woman could 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, it’s really not.

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, especially if the woman has a very early ovulation. (In other words, conception is more likely 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’re charting your cycles for contraception, it is critical that you understand the Fertility Awareness Method rules discussed in my book. Please do me a favor and study it carefully, since I’ve spent the better part of my adulthood trying to avoid several near breakdowns while writing the book, just to make it as clear and intuitive as possible!