Are you tired of popping pills to prevent unwanted pregnancies? This article will help you understand your menstrual cycle and the safe period to have sex without worrying about getting pregnant.
To understand the safe and unsafe periods to have sex, you first need to understand your menstrual cycle.
The changes in the female reproductive organ to get it ready for pregnancy every month is called the menstrual cycle. These changes result from the increase and decrease in the levels of female hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body.
Every month, an egg develops and is released from the ovaries and the uterine lining forms in preparation for implantation of a fertilized egg. If implantation does not occur, the uterine lining is shed and you get periods.
The four phases of the menstrual cycle are:
This phase usually lasts for 3 to 7 days. It is the phase where you get your menstrual periods. When fertilization did not take place in the previous cycle, the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop. This results in the shedding of the uterine lining, as it is no longer required to support a pregnancy.
The symptoms that you might experience are abdominal cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, irritability, low back pain, and headaches.
This phase starts from the day you get your periods to the day you ovulate. So this phase also includes the menstrual phase. This phase lasts for approximately 16 days, but depending on the length of your cycle, it can be anywhere from 11 to 27 days.
Here, the hypothalamus in the brain makes the pituitary gland release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which in turn stimulates the ovaries to produce around 5 to 20 follicles. Follicles are small fluid-filled sacs that contain an immature egg each. One or sometimes two follicles mature, and the rest are resorbed by the body.
The maturing follicle or follicles make the estrogen levels to rise, which thickens uterine lining for the fertilized egg (embryo) to implant and grow.
This is the only phase in the menstrual cycle where you can get pregnant if you have unprotected sexual intercourse.
As the levels of estrogen increases, the pituitary gland releases luteinizing hormone (LH), which begins this phase. The mature egg in the ovaries is released (ovulation), and it travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus.
Ovulation can be detected by symptoms like a rise in the basal body temperature and thick white vaginal discharge. The egg can be fertilized by a sperm only for about 12 to 24 hours after ovulation after the which the egg dissolves. But, sperm can live in the female body for up to 5 days. So you can still get pregnant if you have unprotected sex 5 days before you ovulate.
The follicles that remain in the ovaries after the egg is released gets converted into corpus luteum. Corpus luteum releases progesterone and little estrogen. If fertilization of the egg does not take place, corpus luteum resorbs, which results in the levels of progesterone and estrogen to drop. This causes the lining of the uterus to shed and you get your periods.
In the luteal phase, if you are not pregnant, you will experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms like bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, etc.
It is the period when supposedly a woman has the least chance of getting pregnant. Women go through monthly changes in their body in the name of the menstrual cycle. A monthly cycle has two components:
Proliferating phase: This is the period which begins soon after the menstrual bleeding starts.
Secretory phase: This is a constant period of 14 days, which you can count as 14 days before you get your periods.
By no means, it provides a complete protection against pregnancy, since it has been seen that the intercourse itself may trigger untimely ovulation.
A woman conceives if she copulates within the time of ovulation. Hence the time of ovulation is termed as the unsafe period to have sexual intercourse.
Trying to conceive? Use our fertility calculator to find out the most fertile days in your menstrual cycle.
But please keep in mind that, this calculation is for a woman with a fairly constant menstrual cycle.
I suggest you talk to a gynecologist online to discuss your menstrual cycle and know your safe period ---> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/obstetrics-and-gynaecologist
The days of the menstrual cycle, where the chances of getting pregnant are least is called the safe period.
A woman is most fertile during ovulation. For a woman with 28 to 30 days menstrual cycle, ovulation takes place during the 10th to the 14th day. But there are still chances to of getting pregnant till the 21st day. So days 1 to 7 and 14 days before your periods are considered to be safe days. But there are chances you might get pregnant on these days also, so always use other birth control methods.
Safe days can be calculated by counting the number of days of your periods for six months continuously. With the help of the record, count the days of your longest menstrual cycle and subtract 18 days. Count that number of days from the first day of your last period, and mark it as M.
Subtract 10 days from your shortest menstrual cycle, and count that number of days from the first day of your last period and mark it as N. The days between M and N are the most fertile days, and the other days are considered as safe days.
The same method can be used for women with irregular periods also. It is better if they monitor their menstrual cycle for more than 6 months, as it will give them a clear idea about the longest and shortest menstrual cycle. They can also use other means to track ovulation by basal body temperature and monitoring your cervical mucus.
The process by which an egg (ovum) is released from the ovary is called ovulation. Fertilization can take place up to 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. This is the most fertile period in the menstrual cycle.
For a woman with a 28 to 30 days cycle, ovulation takes place between days 10 and 14. However, it can happen anywhere between days 10 and 21.
There are many ovulation predictor kits available, which help you when you are ovulating. Other methods include:
- Charting your cycle after keeping track for 6 months.
- You will see a lot of cervical mucus, which is clear, stretchy, and slippery when you ovulate.
- Your basal body temperature spikes during ovulation.
Yes, these days are considered safe. As you do not ovulate five days before or after periods, the chances of pregnancy are almost nil.
Yes, you can get pregnant. As you ovulate around the 10th or 11th day, and the sperms are viable for up to 5 days inside a woman, fertilization is possible.
The chances of pregnancy during menstruation are less. As you cannot ovulate while on periods. This is true only for women with regular cycles. As sperm can live inside you for up to 5 days, and if your menstrual cycle is short, you can still get pregnant.
Last reviewed at:
22 Feb 2021 - 3 min read
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