How Long After Your Period Can You Get Pregnant?

Updated July 9, 2019
Gynecologist visit

It is possible to get pregnant soon after your period ends depending on how long your bleeding lasts and when you actually ovulate. If your periods are long, you may only have a few or no days left after your period ends before your fertile days begin (if you truly ovulate around day 14 of your cycle). If your periods are short, it will take a few days longer after your period ends before you reach your fertile days and ovulation.

The Fertile Days in the Menstrual Cycle

The days of fertility in a menstrual cycle are fairly fixed and depend on when you ovulate rather than when your period has ended. Knowing your fertile days can help pinpoint the most likely time to become pregnant during your menstrual cycle. While you can get pregnant right after your period, the most likely day to get pregnant (fertilize an egg) is on the estimated day of ovulation.

Increase Your Conception Chances

One study has shown that women who are trying to conceive will increase their likelihood of conception if they monitor and are aware of their potential fertile days. Being knowledgeable about their ovulation increased the accuracy of when their actual fertile period occurred (which is the five days up to the day of ovulation) rather than estimating when they perceived their ovulation would occur.

What the Additional Five Days Mean

The additional five fertile days mean that if you have intercourse during the five days before ovulation and sperm survives in your reproductive tract, you can still get pregnant. This can happen even if you do not have intercourse on the day of ovulation. This is because the sperm can survive in the reproductive tract for a maximum of five days while it waits for the egg. Because the egg can survive up to 24 hours after ovulation, it is also possible, though less likely, to get pregnant a day after ovulation.

How to Figure Your Fertile Days

The days you are fertile and can conceive during your menstrual cycle remain the same, whether your bleeding is long or short. How many days after your period that you will actually ovulate will depend on how long your cycle is. The following will help you understand when your fertile days will occur after your period.

Menstrual cycle

If Your Cycles Are Twenty-Eight Days Long

If your cycles are the normal, average 28 days long:

  • You will most likely ovulate on day 14 (although it can be a day or two sooner or later), and your fertile window is from days nine to fourteen (six days).
  • If you bleed the average five days, and you start having unprotected intercourse four days after your period ends, you can get pregnant.
  • If you bleed for ten days, your fertile days are still days nine to fourteen. However, now you only have days 11 to 14 (four days) of fertility if you delay intercourse until after your period ends.

To be safe, you have to take into account that any estimation of the day you ovulate is not precise, and you could be a day or two off. Therefore, if you don't want to get pregnant, avoid unprotected intercourse or abstain until you are certain you are past ovulation.

Cycles Shorter Than Twenty-Eight Days

If your menstrual cycle lengths are shorter than 28 days, your fertile days will start before day nine of your cycle. For example, If your cycles are 24 days long:

  • You will likely ovulate on day ten, and your fertile days will be from days five to ten (six days).
  • If you bleed for five days, you can get pregnant if you start having intercourse as soon as your period ends.
  • If you bleed for ten days and have intercourse the day after (day 11), you might still get pregnant if the egg you ovulated on day ten is still viable a day later.

Cycles Longer Than Twenty-Eight Days

If your menstrual cycle lengths are longer than 28 days, your fertile days will start after day nine of your cycle, and you have a longer window before you are likely to get pregnant. For example, if your cycles are 34 days long:

  • You will likely not ovulate until day twenty, and your fertile days will be from days fifteen to twenty (six days).
  • If you bleed for five days, you have a relatively safe window of ten days, from days six to 14, to avoid pregnancy if you have unprotected intercourse.
  • If you bleed for ten days, your relatively safe window is reduced to five days, from days 11 to 15.

If Your Cycles Are Irregular

If your menstrual cycle lengths are irregular, the days you are fertile will vary from one cycle to another. In this case, you can use signs of fertility methods, such as tracking your temperature, checking for cervical mucus changes, or using ovulation predictor kits to estimate when you might ovulate. Your fertile window during which you can get pregnant will include the five days before your estimated day of ovulation and the day of ovulation - plus or minus a day or two. For each cycle, use this information to estimate how soon after your period ends that you can get pregnant.

Knowing Your Fertile Window Is Helpful

If you are trying to get pregnant, knowing the days you are most fertile after your period ends will help you time intercourse to improve your chances of conception. On the other hand, if you are trying to avoid pregnancy, this information will help you know when to abstain from intercourse or use birth control.

Woman holding contraceptive pills

Common Questions About This Topic

A few common, related questions about this topic that are often asked include:

Can I Get Pregnant During My Period?

If you have a 28-day cycle, the answer is you will most likely not get pregnant if you have sex during your period since ovulation is still a number of days away. However, if you have irregular cycles, especially shorter cycles, you should be careful. Since your cycles are shorter, you may be ovulating earlier as well.

Can I Get Pregnant if I Consistently Have Irregular Periods?

Yes, you can get pregnant if you have irregular periods. While your periods may be irregular, you will most likely still be ovulating. However, ovulation may not be consistent and it may be more difficult to determine if and when ovulation occurs, which could affect your fertility.

Can I Get Pregnant Right Before My Period Starts?

The probability of getting pregnant right before your period starts is low. If your cycles are 28 days or longer, ovulation will have already happened somewhere between days 14 and 21. Typically, the days before your period starts are considered the "safest" days to have sex without the worry of getting pregnant.

Your Fertility Window Is Only an Estimate

How quickly after your period that you can you get pregnant will vary from woman to woman. Keep in mind that the days you are most fertile are only estimates. This is because methods used to pinpoint the day of ovulation and the fertility window are not precise, and ovulation can vary by a few days each cycle, even if your menstrual cycles are regular. Therefore, if you have sex right after your period but wish to avoid getting pregnant, it is essential that you use reliable birth control.

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How Long After Your Period Can You Get Pregnant?