If your grade 5 sex education class was anything like mine you were told that women can get pregnant every day of their cycle, even while on their period.
This terrifying thought has most women feeling like they’re an accidental pregnancy in the making and leads to more than a few unnecessary pregnancy scares. The truth is that a woman is only fertile 6 days every cycle and those days are always determined by when she ovulates. If the day you are ovulating changes, these 6 days will shift but your fertile window will never go beyond the 6 day length.
When a woman ovulates, her egg can live for a maximum of 1 day. Sperm can survive a maximum of 5 days in the presence of fertile cervical fluid (think egg white, sticky). Without the fertile sticky mucus, sperm usually don’t live for more than 1 day. The longest window you can be fertile for each cycle is a combination of 5 days before your ovulation day when sperm can survive and then 1 day post ovulation when the egg can survive. If you are tracking your ovulation using your fertility signs, which you can read about here, you can actually pinpoint the day you ovulated and therefore when your fertile window was. Tracking in this way has many benefits: it can help give you peace of mind if you are avoiding pregnancy; can be used as a fertility method; can be used to optimize your chances of getting pregnant, and can be used to make sure all is healthy and normal in your cycle.
For a break down of how to track your fertility using your physiology read my blog here.