Can you get pregnant right after your period?
Written by: Dr. Amy Beckley, PhD, Founder and Inventor of the Proov test — the first and only FDA-cleared test to confirm successful ovulation at home.
Written on 7/19/21
Is it possible to get pregnant right after your period? Keep reading to find out!
While getting pregnant may seem simple (after all, it is just sperm meeting egg, right?), there are actually many different pieces that all need to align in order for conception to occur. One of these pieces is timing as there are only a few days each cycle when conception is actually possible.
So, is it possible to get pregnant right after your period? The short answer is, it depends. Keep reading to learn more!
Getting pregnant is all about timing!
Let’s start with the basics. There are three things needed in order for conception to occur: sperm, an egg, and for them to meet.
But that’s not all! The eggs and the sperm need to be healthy, the correct hormones must be at the right levels at the right time, and the uterine lining must be “sticky” enough to receive an embryo. Yet, none of this matters if the egg and the sperm do not meet during the fertile window.
Our eggs have a very short lifespan. Once an egg is released during ovulation, it is only viable for 12-24 hours. If it doesn’t get fertilized within those 24 hours, it will disintegrate.
Sperm, on the other hand, can live for much longer. Healthy sperm may live up to 5 days in a woman’s reproductive tract. This means that you can still get pregnant from intercourse that occurred days before the actual egg was released.
Your fertile window starts roughly 4-5 days before the actual release of the egg and lasts until the egg is no longer viable. That’s usually about 24 hours after ovulation at the latest. Studies actually show that chances of getting pregnant are higher before ovulation.
Many couples are under the impression they need to wait for a positive ovulation test in order to start having sex when in fact, the chances of pregnancy drop from 41% the day before ovulation to as low as 8% for the day after ovulation. Tracking your cycle and determining your fertile window may boost your chances of conception considerably.
Tracking your cycle and determining your fertile window may boost your chances of conception considerably.
So can I get pregnant after my period?
When you can get pregnant depends on when you ovulate. It is a common misconception that every woman ovulates exactly on cycle day 14. In reality, ovulation usually occurs about midway through your cycle.
If you have 28-day cycles, it’s entirely possible for you to ovulate on cycle day 14. However, every woman and cycle is different and a normal cycle length can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days.
While a healthy luteal phase (second half of your cycle) needs to be at least 11-12 days long in order to allow for the best possible chance at conception, the follicular phase (first half of your cycle) can be much shorter and still be considered healthy. Some studies even report healthy pregnancy with ovulation taking place as early as cycle day 8 and as late as cycle day 22.
Depending on how long your periods last and how early you ovulate, it is possible to get pregnant soon after your period ends. But, it’s not very common. While cycles can be different lengths, the average length is 28 days, meaning ovulation likely would not occur directly after your period.
How do I know when I’m ovulating?
The best way to determine when you’ve ovulating is to track your cycle. Understanding when you’re ovulating will give you a better idea of when you can actually conceive.
There are several methods for predicting ovulation, which can help you determine your fertile window. Here are a few:
Ovulation tests: Ovulation tests measure luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in urine to predict when ovulation will occur. LH is the hormone that surges to trigger the follicle to release the egg about 24-36 hours before ovulation occurs. If you’re using Proov Predict, you’ll want to start testing for an LH surge about 18 days before your next suspected period. You may want to test with Proov Predict two times per day — once in the morning and once in the evening — since LH surges can be short and you don’t want to miss it! The Proov Insight app provides accurate, quantitative LH results in minutes, along with convenient all-month digital tracking, help interpreting your data, and tips to support your goals.
Cervical mucus monitoring: Cervical mucus monitoring can also offer information about your fertile window and suspected ovulation. As hormone levels change throughout your cycle, so does your cervical mucus. As you approach ovulation, cervical mucus becomes wet, stretchy and resembles egg white (EWCM). It is a sperm-friendly fluid, meant to help the swimmers along their journey to reach the egg. EWCM can be found on toilet paper, underwear, or via finger testing.
Basal body temperature (BBT) tracking: BBT tracking involves monitoring the subtle changes that occur in your body’s lowest resting temperature before and after ovulation occurs. Right before ovulation, there is a dip in BBT. Then, after the release of the egg, your BBT should increase by 0.5-1 degree Fahrenheit. Studies show that BBT is not super reliable in predicting ovulation, with an estimated accuracy of only 22%. This is likely due to the fact that your BBT can easily be influenced by changes in room temperature, alcohol consumption, and snuggles from a loved one, among other factors.
Understanding when you’re ovulating and when your fertile window occurs will give you a better idea of when you can actually conceive.
How do I know if I’m pregnant?
Once fertilization occurs and the embryo implants, it starts secreting human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) — the pregnancy hormone. It takes time for hCG to build up in your bloodstream and even 24 hours more for it to show up in urine. At this point, hCG should be detectable on a home pregnancy test.
There are many early detection pregnancy tests that claim to detect pregnancy up to 6 days before your next expected period. While these may work for some women, science shows us the implantation window doesn’t begin until about 7 days past your first positive ovulation test (a.k.a peak fertility), with the most common implantation day being 9 days past peak fertility. This means most women will not get a positive home pregnancy test until about 10 or 11 days past peak, although exceptions are possible.
In order to ensure you have the best possible chance at implantation and pregnancy, we recommend confirming successful ovulation with Proov PdG tests during the 7-10 days past peak fertility window. PdG is the urine metabolite of progesterone which is only released after ovulation occurs. We like to see elevated and sustained PdG levels on 7-10 DPP to confirm that successful ovulation did in fact occur, meaning you have the best possible chance at conception.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll get pregnant right after your period, the more you know about your cycle the better prepared you can be on your unique fertility journey!