Myth: I can get pregnant any day of my cycle.

Truth: There are only a limited number of days during a woman's cycle when pregnancy is possible.

Many women grow up hearing that they can get pregnant any day of the month. This is usually information given to them by well meaning, but protective adults who may themselves be misinformed. The fact is that there are only a limited number of days each cycle when a woman can get pregnant - the five days before she ovulates and the 24 hours after she ovulates. These six days are the only fertile days of a woman's cycle and they take into account the lifespan of sperm (5 days) and the lifespan of the ovum (24 hours).


When is Ovulation?

Ovulation usually occurs around the mid-point of a woman's cycle, approximately 14 days before her next period begins, but it does not always occur on precisely the same day each cycle.  This variability makes many people nervous about trying to "predict" ovulation and has been one reason that women are so often told that they can get pregnant at anytime.  However, the timing of ovulation has been well researched and as the graph below shows, most women ovulate at or near the midpoint of their cycles. 


How Can I Use This Information to Plan or Prevent Pregnancy? 

The Standard Days Method, the family planning method on which the family planning option CycleBeads is based, identifies days 8 - 19 as the potentially fertile days for women with cycles between 26 and 32 days long. This fertile window takes into account the variation in the timing of ovulation from one cycle to the next, the lifespan of the sperm and ovum, as well as cycle lengths for the majority of women*.

Efficacy studies conducted by the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University have shown that when women avoid unprotected intercourse on these potentially fertile days, they are very unlikely to become pregnant.  

* According to analysis of data from the World Health Organization conducted by the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, approximately 80% of cycles are in the 26-32 day range.

Posted in: Womens Health, Fertility Awareness, CycleBeads

Tags: ovulation, fertile window, fertile days, standard days method, institute for reproductive health

11 comments for "Fertility Myth - I Can Get Pregnant Any Day of My Cycle"


thanks for information because most women base on guesswork.

Patricia says:

I have a 24 day menstrual cycle. What are my fertile days? My period began on July 22 and my last menstrual cycle was June 28.

CycleBeads says:

Hi Patricia - If you regularly have cycles that are shorter than 26 days long (and it sounds like you do) then the fertile days indicated by the Standard Days Method (days 8 - 19) are not quite accurate for you. You would likely be potentially fertile a little earlier. However, there is not a proven algorithm which we can tell you to use. There are other fertility awareness methods that can be used by a woman with shorter, longer, or irregular cycles though and which will help you to determine when you are fertile each month. We are fans of the TwoDay Method because it is easy to use. But there is also the Symptothermal method. Both of these methods can be used by women who want to use a natural method, but don't have cycles in the 26-32 day range required to use the Standard Days Method. Hope this is helpful.

marie says:

I have a 26 day cycle what is my chance of getting pregnant if i have sex the next day and i ovulate 4 days later

lola says:

i have a 21 day cycle with a 2 day durtation, pls advise. thnks

CycleBeads says:

Hi Lola - We do not offer medical advice. However it sounds like your cycle is outside the 26-32 day range for using this method. We would suggest that you talk to your health provider to find out about other family planning options. Thanks.

CycleBeads says:

Hi Marie - We're not sure that we fully understand your question. We can tell you that if you have sex and then ovulate 4 days later, your chances of getting pregnant are about 10-15%. The graph at the top of this page outlines probability of getting pregnant based on when you had intercourse relative to when you ovulated. Hope this is helpful!

CycleBeads says:

Hi Everyone - We have received many comments to this post asking for individual information. We are not able to give medical advice and encourage anyone with specific, personal questions about their cycles to talk to their health providers. Thank you!

Amanda says:

Hello, I normally have a 29-30 day cycle. Would my fertile days be the same as the chart provided (8-19)? What are the chances of my getting pregnant on the last day of my fertility days? Thanks!

CycleBeads says:

Hi Amanda, Yes - you should assume that your potentially fertile days are days 8-19 of your cycle since your cycles fall inside the 26-32 day range. If your cycles are consistently 29-30 days it is possible that your fertile window could be slightly shorter. However, most women have some variability. The Standard Days Method takes into account the variability that is likely to occur.

In terms of your chances of getting pregnant on day 19 of your cycle, it depends on when you ovulated. You can see a chart on this page which shows your chances for getting pregnant relative to the day you ovulate.

As this information relates to the Standard Days Method, if your cycles are in the 26-32 day range then your changes of getting pregnant from intercourse on day 19 are less than 5%.

That said, if you wish to avoid pregnancy, it is encouraged that you avoid unprotected intercourse on days 8 through 19!

aisha says:

i have sex before 3 days of my menses. but i have no period. my last period date is 17.12.2013. but my pregnancy test is negative. please advice can i am pregnant or not

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