A missed period frequently mean that you're pregnant. But what exactly is the relationship between your period and pregnancy? How long after your period can you get pregnant? Although it may seem eerily reminiscent of high school biology class, understanding ovulation, your cycle length and your fertile days is essential in helping you determine the relationship between your period and pregnancy.
The process of ovulation plays the starring role in determining whether or not you get pregnant. Ovulation occurs when your ovary releases a mature egg, which travels down your Fallopian tube and is available for a period of approximately 12 to 24 hours to be fertilised. If a sperm fertilises your egg during that time period, the egg will return through the Fallopian tube and implant in the lining of your uterus. If not, your body will shed the unfertilised egg and the lining of your uterus in the event known as menstruation, or your period.
The length of your menstrual cycle determines exactly how long after your period you can get pregnant. Your cycle is measured in days, counting from the first day of your menstrual period until the first day of your following menstrual period. Many women mistakenly count from the first day after their period stops, which is incorrect. The average cycle varies in length from 28 to 32 days for most women, but your cycle could be much shorter or much longer, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Keeping track of your cycles on a calendar provides a good way of determining the typical length of your own personal cycles.
Sexual activity on certain days during your cycle is more likely to result in pregnancy than it is on other days due to the proximity of those days to the time of your ovulation. The majority of women ovulate 11 to 21 days into their cycle (11 to 21 days following the first day of your period). This provides a window of time in the middle of your cycle--typically 12 to 16 days before the beginning of your next period--during which you are more likely to be fertile. Intercourse during this time is more likely to result in pregnancy.
The length of your cycle decides your fertile days in relation to your period. For instance, if you have a shorter cycle than average and your menstrual period typically lasts for more than three days, then you could get pregnant immediately after your period ends. In fact, if you tend to have a short cycle and a long menstrual period, then you could even get pregnant from intercourse that took place during your period because sperm can live three to five days after intercourse.
Your Period and Ovulation
Regardless of the length of your cycles, ovulation itself determines when you will have your period. Although most women cycle regularly, ovulation is dependent on a variety of factors, including illness and stress, which could affect the exact length of your cycle and the resulting fertile days in the cycle. In addition, some women experience light vaginal spotting during ovulation itself, which might cause you to think that you are having your period when in fact you aren't.