You can get pregnant at any time in your cycle

In theory, during the average woman’s menstrual cycle there are six days when sex can result in pregnancy. This conception risk period, also called ‘fertile window’ is the five days before egg release (ovulation), plus the day of egg release.1

EllaOneWomansBook_AnnotatedDiagrams_2503144

You are at risk of conception if you have unprotected sex in the 5 days before ovulation because sperm can live for about 5 days, and can be waiting in the fallopian tubes, ready to fertilise your egg.2 An egg only lives for 24 hours.2

The highest risk of pregnancy is when ovulation happens shortly after unprotected sex

Sperm viability declines in the days after sex. This means that the risk of conception is highest when ovulation happens during the first three days following unprotected sex.3

When is this conception risk period?

You have no way of knowing when your fertile window is – and it can be at a different time every month.1

EllaOneWomansBook_AnnotatedDiagrams_260814_5

This means that you are at risk of pregnancy almost throughout the whole of your menstrual cycle.1

  • You might not ovulate on the same day of your cycle from one month to the other 1
  • Women with a regular cycle can be in their fertile window any time from day 6 to day 211
  • Women with an irregular cycle can be in their fertile window from day 8-281

 

References

  1. Wilcox AJ et al. BMJ 2000; 321: 1259-62.
  2. Pallone S and Bergus G. J Am Board Fam Med 2009; 22: 147–157.
  3. Wilcox AJ et al. N Engl J Med 1995; 333: 1517-21