Fertility can be a tricky thing. Whether you're trying to have a baby or whether you're trying not to get pregnant, it's confusing to chart your ovulation because every woman's cycle is different. So it makes sense for you to wonder when your body is the most fertile and when it isn't, and you might even be asking yourself, "can you get pregnant a week before your period?" Depending on your cycle though, the answer can get a little complicated.
You probably learned about the menstrual cycle during a middle school health class, but the details might have gotten a little hazy. Basically, the average cycle lasts 28 days, according to the Office on Women's Health, and it kicks off with the start of your period on day one and peaks with ovulation (when the egg leaves the ovary) on day 14. Typically, you're at your most fertile between day 11 and day 21. After that point, you move into the post-ovulation stage where your odds of conceiving are low, noted Parents magazine. So if you've had unprotected sex a week before your period, chances are likelier that you won't get pregnant — but the possibility remains that you might.
The thing is, most women don't have a neat 28-day menstrual cycle with a super consistent fertility window. Cycles can vary from 21 to 35 days in adults, and that length can swing even more depending on your stress levels or on certain prescriptions you're taking. The American Pregnancy Association (APA) pointed out that sperm can live in a woman's body up to five days, which can complicate matters even more; but the APA also concluded that the days right before your period are the safest for having sex without conceiving.
With so many fertility factors to keep track of, however, you might want to buy a home pregnancy test just to be safe, but make sure that you don't take it too soon. "It's best to wait a week after a missed period to take the test," Dr. Neil Foster, an OB-GYN based out of Leesburg, Virginia, tells Romper. Otherwise you run the risk of getting a false negative result.
When it comes to a woman's fertility, there are no firm answers when she can or can't get pregnant during her cycle. Technically, you can conceive a week before your period or during your period, even if the probability isn't high. Mother Nature can be weird like that, but if you're wondering if you're pregnant or not, you can always take a simple pregnancy test and find out the answer you need.