- Can a Girl Get Pregnant if She Has Never Had Her Period?
- I’ve Never Had a Period — Can I Get Pregnant?
- Can you get pregnant on your period?
- Getting Pregnant with Irregular Periods: What to Expect
- Birth Control, Pregnancy & STDs
- Blog | Oh Baby Nutrition
- An Interview with Ashley Chea
Can a Girl Get Pregnant if She Has Never Had Her Period?
- Larger text sizeLarge text sizeRegular text size
Can I get pregnant if I’ve never had my period?
Yes, a girl can get pregnant before she gets her first period.
Getting pregnant is related to ovulation. Because a girl can ovulate before having her first period, it is possible to become pregnant if she has sex.
Pregnancy isn’t the only concern about having sex — any time a girl has sex, especially unprotected sex, she runs the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) (also called a sexually transmitted infection, or STI).
Abstinence (not having sex) is the only way to completely prevent STDs or unwanted pregnancy. Condoms are the only type of birth control that offers protection against STDs, but they’re not as good at preventing pregnancy as other kinds of birth control. Girls get the best protection if they use a condom every time they have sex, and also use a hormonal method of birth control (like the Pill).
If you have ever had sex, or are thinking about having sex, talk with your doctor about birth control options, STD testing, and ways to prevent STDs.
If you’ve had unprotected sex, a condom broke, or you used birth control but haven’t had your period, see your doctor immediately to get tested for pregnancy and STDs.
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD Date reviewed: September 2016
I’ve Never Had a Period — Can I Get Pregnant?
Q3. I’ve been told in the past that I should urinate after having intercourse to help prevent urinary tract and bladder infections. My husband and I are now trying to conceive. If I continue to urinate after intercourse, does that lower my chances of getting pregnant?
Urinating after intercourse helps prevent the occurrence of urinary tract infections because it washes away bacteria from the vaginal and urethral areas. Sperm that are deposited at the uterine or cervical opening at the time of intercourse, though, will not be washed away in the process. You need not worry — your chances of conceiving are not decreased by urinating after intercourse, since each sperm ejaculate contains millions of sperm. So feel free to continue urinating after intercourse to prevent infections.
Q4. I am 36 years old and was diagnosed five years ago with an undetermined connective tissue disease. I also have GERD and seasonal allergies. Would it be wise at this age and with these conditions to get pregnant? How would they affect my child? What questions should I ask, and what tests should I request of my gynecologist, rheumatologist, and primary care doctor? Your help will be greatly appreciated.
The various conditions you describe — connective tissue disease, seasonal allergies, and GERD — are, by themselves, fairly common conditions in women. The latter two should have no particular bearing on conceiving or carrying a child, although your symptoms may be variable during pregnancy and your ability to use some medications will be reduced. In other words, you may have more allergy symptoms than usual and, like most pregnant women, you will probably experience heartburn — and maybe more than other women because of GERD. That’s because the baby growing in the uterus pushes the stomach upward, leading to more acid reflux. You will probably need to take more antacids and use over-the-counter acid-suppression medication if your heartburn flares during pregnancy. (Your doctor will guide you on what medications are safe to take during pregnancy.)
As far as your connective tissue disease, there is a broad spectrum of possibilities regarding your condition. If you simply have a blood test abnormality, it is unlikely that it will have any impact on the safety of a pregnancy. However, you should be fully evaluated by your rheumatologist prior to pregnancy because some conditions can affect the child; these are rare but should be considered. Lastly, your gynecologist, rheumatologist, and primary care doctor should confer about you before you attempt to get pregnant. You should know as much as you can before making the decision, and if you decide to proceed, you should have a plan in place for managing your conditions. Your question was a good place to start.
Q5. I’m thinking of getting pregnant next year. Is there anything I should do now to get ready?
When you’re considering pregnancy, it’s important to be sure your general health is excellent and all your preventive testing is up-to-date. That means some doctor visits now as well as some possible lifestyle changes.
First, see your gynecologist for a Pap smear. Have a baseline mammogram if you’re over 35 and haven’t had one already. Be sure that you have immunity to all the childhood viral illnesses, like measles, mumps, and rubella. (If you need to get revaccinated, you’ll have to wait three months after the vaccine takes effect to become pregnant.) If any genetic diseases run in your family, be sure to seek genetic counseling in advance and discuss being tested.
If you are over 40, it is also important to have a general medical evaluation, including cardiovascular assessment. For patients over 45 who are undergoing fertility treatments, stress testing will be part of the baseline evaluation as well.
It is important to take a daily multivitamin that contains at least 500 mcg of folic acid for at least three months prior to conception. Studies have shown that this reduces the risk of spinal cord and neurological abnormalities in babies.
It’s also important to examine your weight and nutritional habits before you get pregnant. If you are significantly overweight, your risks of hypertension and diabetes during pregnancy are increased, as are the risks of having a premature or low-birth-weight baby. It’s a good idea to seek nutritional counseling and begin a diet that is appropriate for pregnancy.
As far as exercise is concerned, you can continue your usual level of activity — but don’t begin anything new or particularly strenuous while trying to conceive, since lowering body fat levels may lower fertility hormone levels as well.
Q6. I’m a 42-year-old with one child. I want to have another baby, but I’m having a hard time getting pregnant. My primary doctor said everything is fine with my health, and I see no obvious reason I can’t get pregnant. Please help!
— Cynthia, Canada
Difficulty conceiving at age 42 is not unusual. Since you’ve already had a baby, you’ve proven that you are able to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. However, because of the age of your eggs, it is going to be more challenging for you to become pregnant again.
Here’s why: A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, and those eggs age along with her. Peak fertility occurs in a woman’s late teens and early twenties. This means that by the time she enters her forties, her eggs are considered to be post-mature, and they may not be able to be fertilized normally. At this juncture, many of the eggs may have chromosomal abnormalities. Therefore, the chances that a woman will become pregnant with a chromosomally normal embryo that can be carried to term diminish as she gets older.
The best strategy for you to pursue at 42 is to seek treatment from a reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in fertility. He or she can do the testing and manage the treatment that can help you achieve a successful pregnancy.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Pregnancy Center.
Can you get pregnant on your period?
Share on PinterestA person can get pregnant during their period, but it is unlikely.
A person is most likely to become pregnant in the middle of their menstrual cycle, which is when the ovary releases an egg in a process called ovulation.
The egg then travels to the uterus, where a sperm cell can fertilize it.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, the average menstrual cycle is 28 days. The menstrual cycle is the time between the first day of one period and the first day of the next period. Ovulation usually occurs 7–19 days after a person’s period ends.
The egg can only survive for 12–24 hours after ovulation. For this reason, it must meet a sperm cell in this time for pregnancy to occur.
A person is most likely to get pregnant if they have sexual intercourse in the 3 days before and up to the day of ovulation.
Since a person with 28-day cycles typically does not ovulate until around a week after they stop bleeding, they cannot usually get pregnant during their period.
However, it is not quite as simple as this due to three main factors:
- a person’s menstrual cycle length
- monthly differences in the timing of ovulation
- how long sperm stays alive inside the female body
Menstrual cycles are still “normal” if the period comes every 24–38 days, so cycle length varies significantly between people. People with shorter menstrual cycles may ovulate closer to their period than people with longer cycles.
The wide variation in menstrual cycle length and the timing of ovulation makes it difficult to tell when a person is in their fertile period.
On top of this, sperm can live for 3–5 days inside a female’s body, which means that a person can get pregnant even if they have sexual intercourse 5 days before they ovulate.
Some researchers suggest that having sexual intercourse on the day before ovulation will carry the same chances of getting pregnant as having sexual intercourse multiple random times throughout the menstrual cycle.
During the period, a person’s body discharges blood, an unfertilized egg, and tissue from the lining of the uterus. The average female will bleed for around 5 days, although it is very common to bleed for shorter or longer periods of time.
So, although it is possible to become pregnant during the period, it is unlikely.
Last month pro runner Tina Muir published a kind of shocking blog post about her decision to quit running. Like many elite athletes, she’d lost her period due to strenuous physical activity. Now that she’s hoping to have kids, she’s leaving her sport in order to regain her cycle.
Every time she went to the doctor, Muir was told she’d have to train less intensely if she wanted to get pregnant, she said to Glamour. The prospect of scaling back her running seemed inconceivable, since her career was so important to her. But after she accomplished her dream of representing Britain in a world championship, she was more at peace with the idea. “I noticed that my heart wasn’t really in ,” she said.
So she began the process of trying to get her period back. Stress, calorie intake, physical activity, and weight can all affect your cycle; for Muir, the main culprit was running. “They suggested I severely cut back, and that would be OK, but I’ve always been an all-or-nothing person,” she said. “If I was going to do this, I was going to do it completely.” She was told she’d get her period after two to three months, and though the competitor in her wanted to rush it, she has accepted that her period hasn’t returned after seven weeks and may not for a while.
Not every woman who loses her period (the medical term is amenorrhea) is an elite runner, of course, but if you’re not menstruating and you’d like to get pregnant in the near future, you should talk to your primary care doctor, a gynecologist, or a reproductive endocrinologist, says Alison Zimon, M.D., a top reproductive endocrinologist and co-medical director at CCRM Boston. Even if you’re not trying to get pregnant, losing your cycle can indicate that something’s wrong. Usually it’s due to some reversible issue, such as excessive exercise, dieting, or stress. Once this underlying problem is treated, your cycle will often return.
(There are some contingencies: If a woman’s cycle doesn’t come back, doctors will sometimes prescribe birth control. If you’re trying to get pregnant, obviously, that won’t help, so in that case, women might take injectable gonadotropins or other medications. Others can’t get their periods back or get pregnant because their egg supplies have run out; these women may use donated eggs.)
Once you do get a regular period again, that means you’re ovulating and have a good shot at getting pregnant, says Brian M. Berger, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Boston IVF. It may also be possible to get pregnant before your period returns since ovulation happens about two weeks before menstruation. After that, Berger recommends trying to conceive for a year if you’re under 35 or six months if you’re older than 35; if you aren’t pregnant in that window, talk to a gynecologist or reproductive endocrinologist.
Muir is speaking about her journey from amenorrhea to trying to conceive because she wants other women who have lost their periods and want kids to know they should address the problem as soon as they can. She also wants them to know they’re not broken, as she used to believe of herself, and to feel free to talk about it.
Last, Muir wants to reassure women who may need to gain weight so they can ovulate that there’s nothing wrong with that. “That has not been completely easy in a world where were constantly being told to lose weight, lean up, and tone up, but I feel almost more confident now than I did at my leanest, when I had a six-pack,” she says. “It’s so liberating to be able to remove yourself from those restraints and the pressure to look a certain way. I want to do what’s best for my body and me.”
Getting Pregnant with Irregular Periods: What to Expect
It’s possible to ovulate without later bleeding like a period. This often occurs because of previous uterine scarring or certain hormonal medications.
It’s also possible to have menstrual-like bleeding without ovulation. This generally happens when the uterine lining becomes so thick it becomes unstable and naturally sloughs off.
The uterine lining can become thick without ovulation if the hormone estrogen, which is produced prior to ovulation, continues to be secreted unopposed by the other female hormone, progesterone, which is produced after ovulation.
There are many possible causes for irregular menstruation, and many of the causes can affect ovulation or make getting pregnant more difficult. In some cases, the cause of irregular menstruation is unknown.
Some causes that may affect ovulation and your ability to carry a pregnancy include:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition in which the female body secretes too many androgens. Androgens are sometimes thought of as “male” sex hormones. Too many androgens can prevent mature eggs from developing and being released by the fallopian tubes.
PCOS, which affects up to 21 percent of women, is the most common cause of infertility from lack of ovulation. PCOS can be a genetic disorder, but it can also be influenced by lifestyle factors, such as being overweight and sedentary.
Perimenopause is the time in a woman’s reproductive life when estrogen and progesterone naturally decline. This causes irregular ovulation and periods before they stop altogether, signaling menopause. Typically, perimenopause lasts about four years, but some women can go through it for much longer.
The average age of the onset of perimenopause is 47, with 51 being the average age of the final menstrual period. Perimenopause ends — and menopause begins — when you haven’t had a period for 12 months.
Symptoms of perimenopause may include:
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- irregular periods
While it’s still possible to become pregnant during perimenopause, it can be more difficult because the released eggs will be older and potentially less viable. You also may not release eggs with every cycle.
Your thyroid, which is a small butterfly-shaped organ at the base of your neck, helps regulate hormones that, among other things, impact ovulation and menstruation. In one study, nearly 14 percent of adolescent girls with thyroid disorders also had irregular periods.
Other symptoms of thyroid disease, which include hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, can be:
- mental fuzziness
- weight changes
- altered heart and metabolic rates
Being severely over- or underweight can set off a chain reaction in your body that interrupts hormonal function. That can lead to absent or irregular ovulation, which can also lead to absent or irregular menstruation.
According to research published in BMC Women’s Health, women with a body mass index of less than 20 or greater than 25 were at least 1.1 times more likely to experience menstrual irregularities than women who had BMIs between 20 and 25.
Stress can impact a wide variety of bodily functions, including ovulation. In one study looking at medical students, those who reported higher levels of perceived stress were more likely to have menstrual irregularities compared with those who didn’t feel highly stressed.
Birth Control, Pregnancy & STDs
Blog | Oh Baby Nutrition
Many women are often surprised to learn that after having a baby, you can become pregnant again without actually menstruating first. This is because about 60% of women will ovulate before their first period postpartum. However, only about half of these women will have a long enough luteal phase to sustain a pregnancy after this first ovulation. The other 40% will have some sort of bleeding to indicate their first postpartum ovulation is approaching. Due to the wide variations of returning fertility, it can be very difficult to detect when ovulation occurs for the first time after giving birth.
So, what are your chances of conceiving?
Lactational amenorrhea is the suppression of a menstrual cycle due to the breastfeeding hormone, prolactin. While there are exceptions, exclusively breastfeeding on-demand both day & night, without using of bottles, pumping, or pacifiers usually suppresses fertility until baby starts solids. When these criteria are met, your chances of conceiving before first foods are introduced is about 2%, which is lower than the risk of a fertile woman conceiving using either hormonal birth control pill (8%) or male condoms (15%).
Certain practices have shown to extend lactational amenorrhea, including:
lying down when breastfeeding
providing baby access to comfort nursing
co-sleeping at night
napping with baby
keeping baby close
Fertility Awareness Method Postpartum
Before having kids myself, I practiced the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). It proved so reliable for me that it was the only method of ‘birth control’ (pregnancy avoidance) my husband and I used. With FAM I was able to closely monitor my fertility signs to both avoid pregnancy and then successfully conceive after we decided to begin trying.
The 3 main fertility signs to monitor are cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and cervical position. However, these can prove much more challenging to observe prior to your cycle returning after having a baby. Before your first period postpartum your hormones still “cycle” and fluctuate as they gear up for ovulation. Eventually they finally surge and drop enough for ovulation, then menstruation to occur. These fluctuations can cause seemingly fertile cervical mucus for several months without actually being fertile yet. Temperature reading are done first thing when you wake up in the morning. Although they’re no longer accurate if you experience sleep disturbances, which is usually the reality for most mothers with young children. As for cervical positioning, it can feel different after having a baby and may be difficult to monitor until your cycle returns and you can familiarize yourself with your ‘new normal’.
An Interview with Ashley Chea
Ashley Chea and I first met at an Ergobaby event in 2017. We each had our daughters with us and they were both 6 months old, born just days apart from each other. When I saw her at the same Ergo event this year, she shared that she was pregnant again with her third baby and that she conceived before the return of her first period postpartum. She was also exclusively breastfeeding her 9 month old at the time and wasn’t using bottles or pacifiers. She also slept with her baby and regularly wore her in a carrier as well.
How did you realize you were pregnant and how far along were you when you found out?
I didn’t realize until I was about 4 months pregnant. I thought I was dying because I kept having migraines and feeling really sick. I went to the doctor to get an MRI and he said I was pregnant, not dying of a brain tumor like I thought. (I kept having headaches and getting dizzy, which is why I asked for the MRI.)
How old was your youngest when you became pregnant? Were you breastfeeding at that point?
My youngest was 1 year old when I found out I was pregnant, 13 months to be exact. I was still breastfeeding her and had no cycle, so it was a complete surprise.