Is there a safe period when you can have sex with your male/female partner and still avoid pregnancy? There is no 100% fool proof method to avoid pregnancy without any contraceptive or a barrier but you can increase the odds of avoiding pregnancy if you know a little bit about a woman’s reproductive system and menstrual cycle. I am not going to tell anything new here, most of you would have come across this subject in your high school but might not remember.
Fundamentals of reproductive cycle:
- A healthy normal woman menstruates once every 28 days on an average.
- Day one is always the day when the periods start.
- An egg is released by the ovaries into the fallopian tube in the middle of the menstrual cycle.
- An egg lives inside the body of the woman for 24 hours waiting for a sperm to fertilise it.
- If an egg encounters a successful sperm, it forms a zygote and implants itself in the wall of the uterus in 6 to 12 days.
- If the egg doesn’t fertilise during its 24 hours life span, it is absorbed back by the body.
- A man’s healthy sperm can live inside a woman’s body for 5 days and in rare cases up to 7 days.
Can a woman get pregnant if she has unprotected sex with a man during her period?
Short answer – no. During periods, the inner lining of the uterus, which is called ‘endometrium’ is removed from the uterus and pushed out. That means, all the contents of the uterus are also pushed out including any sperm that might enter or be present.
So, having sex while a woman is menstruating doesn’t induce pregnancy.
When is the safe period to have sex and avoid pregnancy?
Assuming a woman menstruates for 28 days, 14 day will be the middle of the cycle during which she theoretically ovulates. As the sperms stay alive for 5 days inside the woman’s body, unprotected sex must be avoided from 9th day. (Remember, Day 1 is always the day when the periods start.). To be on the safer side, just leave another 2 days for ovulation (release of egg inside the woman’s body), that will be the 16th day. Having unprotected sex from 17th day reduces the odds of pregnancy. The closer the woman goes to having her next period, the lower the chances of getting pregnant.
Now, the real thing is – not every woman menstruates exactly in 28 days. A couple of days here and there may change. So, it is always best to have unprotected sex (to avoid pregnancy) after 18 days after pregnancy. There is simple math to measure the shortest and longest menstrual cycle during a period of 9 months and then subtracting some days from shortest and longest to get a window of no-sex period but you don’t need to strain your brain so much about it.
Tools to track ovulation
There are simple tools that you can use to know when you are ovulating. You can plan your fun accordingly:
- Measuring basal temperature of your body everyday. You need a basal thermometer which you should use immediately after you wake up in the morning. Note the temperature. You should see a very slight ( up to 0.5 degree C) a day before and on the day of ovulation. Once you make a note for a few cycles, you should get a fair idea about the safe period.
- Checking the mucus in your cervix. Human body is designed so beautifully, we don’t fully appreciate its functioning. During the days of ovulation, there will be an increase in the amount of mucus in the cervix region. However, this may not be of great help if you already had sex a couple of days before this happens.
- Ovulation prediction kits – These kits measure the amount of luteinizing hormone present in the urine. This hormone level increases 24 to 48 hours before ovulation. Avoiding sex a couple of days before that helps.
Best way to avoid pregnancy
There are different methods of contraception to avoid pregnancy including:
- Everyday birth control pills
- On-demand birth control pills
- Intra Uterine Device – hormonal and non-hormonal (copper based)
- Contraceptive injections.
You can read about them by clicking on the respective links. “From my experience, what I would recommend is to go for non-hormonal copper based IUD. This tiny device is made from pure copper and is placed inside the uterus of the woman. The copper metal kills the sperms and acts as a spermicide. Copper based IUD prevents pregnancy in more than 99% of the cases from my experience.” says Dr. Deepa Ganesh, an abortion specialist from Chennai.
Here are the benefits of using copper based non-hormonal IUD:
- It is not hormone based. It neither releases hormones nor imbalances the levels in the body.
- It is made from pure copper which does absolutely no harm to the body when placed and removed carefully by a trained gynaecologist.
- One device can last for up to 10 years, depending on the lifespan of the device. It’s like, insert once and forget kind of device.
- To get pregnant, just get the device removed and have regular sex.
Remember this – Unprotected sex with your regular partner is safer. Having unprotected sex with an unfamiliar person even just once during the safe period is not really safe. Not about the pregnancy part but about the sexually transmitted diseases that you can get. Imagine a combination of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection – sounds like a disaster, doesn’t it?