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Chances of pregnancy with protected intercourse just before period?

Last Updated - Fri, Mar 16 2018

Similar Questions - am I pregnant, what is the fertility window, what are the phases of the menstrual cycle, when can I get pregnant, when is the best time to take a pregnancy test, how effective is birth control.

Detailed Question:

Hi. I had sex with my boyfriend on the 20th of November. I am 19 years old and do not wish to get pregnant until I am at least 25. My period was due four days ago, that is on the 21st of November, but I have not started menstruating yet. My menstrual cycle is 28 days long and is quite regular. I usually get my period on the due date, and if not, then within 1 or 2 days after the due date. Could I be pregnant? I know that my period is late for only four days but I am worried that I might be pregnant. I was under the impression that I would not be ovulating during the days just before I start menstruating and assumed that there was no chance of pregnancy. I just wanted to know whether it is possible to get pregnant just before menstruation. 

Also, are there any days on which I can have sex without any chance of getting pregnant? As I am a believer in ‘better safe than sorry’, my boyfriend always uses birth control during intercourse. After intercourse, we always check whether the condom has broken, and it hadn’t. What are the odds of getting pregnant while using protection? If I get my period within the next few days, will that mean that I am definitely not pregnant? If I don’t get my period within the next few days, I am considering getting myself tested. When the best time to take a pregnancy test? I have had protected sex a few days before my period several times in the past and have always got my period on time. 

I will really appreciate it if you could help me. Thanks

Category: Gynaecology

Dr. Garima Sawhney

M.S.- Obstetrics &Gynaecology
Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College & Hospital, Pune

Hello, Thank you for consulting us about whether you could have gotten pregnant while having protected intercourse just before your period. I understand that you must be worried and hope that I am able to clarify all your doubts. The fact that it is highly unlikely for a woman to get pregnant just a day before her period should put your mind at ease. That being said, there is no guarantee that it is impossible for you to conceive during this period. Similarly, although birth control methods, including the use of condoms, are generally effective, they are not foolproof. Here’s a little information that will give you a better idea of when you can get pregnant and when you probably won’t. 

The menstrual cycle and fertility window 

Although the length of the menstrual cycle of a woman varies from person to person, the phases of the cycle remain the same. The average menstrual cycle of a woman is considered to be 28 days. As you mentioned that your cycle is 28 days, it should be fairly easy for you to calculate the days on which you are most fertile and the days on which you think it is safe for you to have sex without getting pregnant. As your cycle is regular, you don’t have to worry much about your fertility window changing from month to month, although it is a possibility. Understanding the phases of the menstrual cycle will help you to get a better picture regarding the same.

Day 1-13 (Follicular Phase)            Day 14 (Ovulation)           Day 25-28 (Luteal Phase)

  • The first phase of the cycle is the menstrual phase during which the soft tissue and blood vessels which form the inner lining of the uterus is shed through the vagina. This phase typically lasts for around five days 
  • The follicular phase also begins on the first day of the cycle but ends around the 13th day. During this phase one of the egg cells which have grown in the ovaries matures to form a follicle by the end of this phase. On maturity of the egg, the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus, is formed 
  • In a 28-day cycle, the ovulation phase takes place on the 14th day, when a matured egg cell is released and enters into the fallopian tube, where it remains for 24 hours 
  • The last stage of the menstrual cycle is the luteal phase, which typically begins on the 15th day of the cycle and lasts until the end of it. If the egg cell is not impregnated within the 24 hours that it is present in the tube, it disintegrates. By the end of the cycle, the hormone that enables the uterus to retain its inner lining gets exhausted and this leads to the start of the next cycle

So, when can you get pregnant? 

The peak fertility period is considered to be during the ovulation phase. It is important to note that a sperm can remain alive inside the body of a woman for up to five days. This means that you can get pregnant if you and your partner have intercourse while you are ovulating and even up to five days before you start ovulating. These six days are known as the ‘fertility window’ and if you do not wish to conceive, you should avoid having unprotected sex during this period. 

As you know, the egg dies after approximately 24 hours, after which the probability of getting pregnant falls. Although ovulation generally occurs in the middle of two menstruation phases, it is not uncommon for it to vary by as much as a week, and sometimes even more, especially when a woman has an irregular cycle.

Other methods to check when you are ovulating include the following: 

  • Taking your temperature every day - a woman’s temperature rises during the ovulation phase 
  • Examining your cervical mucus – The consistency of the mucus is stretchy and similar to that of raw egg white during ovulation and the chances of conceiving during this period are high. When the mucus is watery, the likelihood of getting pregnant is quite high

What are the chances of getting pregnant in spite of using birth control? 

The effectiveness of birth control depends not only on which method you use but also on how well you use it. You stated that you used a condom during intercourse. If used in the correct manner, the effectiveness of a condom is up to 98%. Though many put on a condom only just before ejaculation, it is advisable to use it when you start having intercourse. There is a 2 percent to 3 percent possibility of a condom breaking during intercourse and thus a 2 – 3 percent chance of getting pregnant while using one. However, as the condom that you used did not break, the probability that you are pregnant is low.

Other than condoms, there are a variety of birth control methods that you could use which are as follows: 

  • Vaginal ring 
  • Withdrawal 
  • Copper IUD 
  • Hormonal IUD 
  • Implant 
  • Patch 
  • The pill, etc.

Can you get your period after getting pregnant? 

If you are pregnant, you will not menstruate. The uterus forms a thick lining of tissue and blood vessels every month. If you conceive, the egg is embedded here and the lining remains intact. If you do not get pregnant, your menstrual period will occur, during which the uterus sheds this lining. However, vaginal bleeding during pregnancy is not uncommon and is often confused with menstruation.

When is the best time to take a pregnancy test?

When a fertilized egg gets attached to the wall of the uterus, a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is formed. This hormone, which is present in the blood and urine, is formed approximately six days after a woman conceives, and can be detected by a pregnancy test. 

Most women take a pregnancy test when they miss their menstrual period as this is considered to be one of the first signs of being pregnant. Other signs of pregnancy include:

  • Cramps 
  • Morning sickness 
  • Tenderness of breasts 
  • High basal body temperature post-ovulation period 
  • Constipation

A pregnancy test is recommended to be taken two weeks after the date on which you possibly conceived, which is also generally the phase during which your period is expected. A test can be taken even as soon as 7 days after conception, however, early testing may provide you with a false negative result. Thus, if you take a test within 14 days or before you miss your period, and get a negative result, it is advisable that you test again. 

The risk of getting pregnant is the highest if you have unprotected sex in your fertility window. As you had protected intercourse just a day before the due date of your period, and your cycle is regular, you are probably not pregnant. However, as the ovulation phase does vary, it would be advisable that you consult a gynaecologist. 

I hope that this answers all your queries. For any further advice or questions, feel free to contact a specialist on JustDoc who will provide you with an instant online consultation.


Dr. Garima Sawhney

M.S.- Obstetrics &Gynaecology
Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College & Hospital, Pune

Dr. Garima Sawhney is a Gynecologist in Gurgaon. Her expertise and utmost care and compassion for her patients makes her one of the most sought-after Gynecologists.