Having spent over two years trying to get pregnant, I spent a lot of time doing research and am sharing what I found out.
I Don't Want to Get Pregnant
If you don't want to get pregnant then this article is really dedicated to giving you the knowledge about which times in your cycle it is more safe to have sex (in terms of not getting pregnant) if you are not using any form of contraception.
Obviously the best way to not get pregnant is to use contraception but we are assuming that you have considered that option and have your own reasons for not using it.
There will always be people who will have sex, whether it be planned or on the spur of the moment, without contraception, and if people are more aware of when they will be less fertile then hopefully this may at least prevent more unwanted pregnancies.
So, the proviso on reading this is that if you are considering having unprotected sex on a regular basis and you don't want to get pregnant, then you should seriously consider getting some form of contraception. Not only to stop you getting pregnant but also to prevent any sexually transmitted diseases.
Knowing Your Cycle
The first thing to be aware of if you don't want to get pregnant, is the basics of how your body works. Although we obviously all know that unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy, the actual ins and outs of the women's cycle are a bit more of a mystery unless you have really researched this.
So, to start with, it is much easier to know what your body is doing if you are having regular cycles. They don't have to be of the standard length of 28 days but as long as they are the same length each month, maybe just varying by a day or two then you will be much better able to know what is going on.
If you are having very irregular cycles then it is really difficult to know when you are ovulating and so trying to guess when is a safe time to have sex is much more difficult and you are much more likely to get it wrong!
There are two parts to your cycle, the first part, called the follicular phase, is gearing up for ovulation and the second part is after ovulation has happened. Ovulation is the release of the egg that can be fertilized by the sperm to create an embryo.
Once the egg has been released at ovulation it will only survive in your body for 12-24 hours or so. Once the egg is released and dissolves (if it is not fertilized), you cannot get pregnant for the rest of that cycle.
This means that if you know when you ovulate, then you can wait maybe for 3 days to be safe and then be reasonably sure that you are outside your fertile window. However, you have to know exactly when you have ovulated to be sure!
In the first part of your cycle, before ovulation, your body is waiting for the egg to be released. Whenever you have sex, sperm can survive for up to 4 days in the body, so if you have sex 4 days before you ovulate you can still get pregnant as the sperm may have survived that long and might be waiting for the egg to release.
This means that it is safer to have sex in the second half of your cycle, in particular just in case you ovulate early.
Best Times to Not Get Pregnant
How Long is Your Cycle?
If you have a standard cycle of 28 days then the chances are that you will ovulate on day 14. However, there is also a chance that you will ovulate on day 13,15,16 or even 17.
The second half of your cycle can be between 10 and 16 days. The average is 14 but everyone is not average. So if your cycle is 30 days then you will likely ovulate between day 14 and day 20 of your cycle (day 1 is the first day of your period). This means that if you don't know when you are ovulating you should not have unprotected sex between day 6 and day 22 of your cycle. If you know when you are ovulating then you can narrow this down further.
If your cycle is less than 28 days then you have even fewer days that may be safe for you to have sex.
In any case it is probably fair to say that there will be some risk of pregnancy if you have sex any time after day 6 of your cycle (up to shortly after you ovulate), unless you have regularly long cycles.
How To Tell When You Ovulate
I have a detailed article which shows how to tell when you ovulate - it gives a lot of information but is aimed at those people who are actually trying to get pregnant.
So, there are a few ways you can check - you can use ovulation test strips each month to check if you have a regular ovulation date (although this can't be relied upon as it could change each month). You can also sometimes tell by the type of discharge that your body produces. When you are more fertile your body produces a kind of stringy egg-white type discharge which can be apparent when you pee. If you get this kind of discharge - do not have sex! After you have ovulated your discharge will be much drier and stickier.
A Rough Guide to Cycles
Do Not Rely On This as Contraception!
Once again I must emphasise that you shouldn't rely on this as a failsafe way of not getting pregnant. Your cycle can change at any time and you may never know when you are ovulating. The safest time to have sex is at the end of your cycle, perhaps in the week before your period starts. However, you might not know when your period is about to start so unless you are pretty sure you shouldn't rely on this.
And again, don't forget that this will not prevent any sexually transmitted diseases.
© 2012 Jackie Grant
Comments & Questions
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on April 21, 2019:
Hello, Jackie, I am male. However, desiring to increase my knowlege bank, accept my profound pleasure reading this great article. It is greatly informing and educative. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the week.
Jackie Grant (author) from UK on September 23, 2012:
Hi beadreamer, yes, I would agree that your cycle can vary and so it can be dangerous to use this method if you have irregular cycles. So you really need to know what your body is doing in terms of ovulation to be able to get a good idea of when is safe and when isn't. Ovulation is not necessarily 14 days before your next period. I know a number of people who have a luteal phase between 9 and 16 days so it can vary (although 14 is the norm for sure). In fact one girl got pregnant with a luteal phase of 11 days which could catch anyone out if they did not realise this.
For sure egg white cervical mucus is a good sign of being in the fertile phase of your cycle and keeping an eye on what type of cervical mucus you have will give you an indication of where you are in your cycle. However, some people have EWCM right before ovulation and some have it maybe even 5 days before.
Keeping an eye on the position of the cervix can also be useful but it is a very difficult way of doing things and often it is hard to tell how your cervix feels (if you can even reach it!) - unless you regularly go 'in there' and check it, and checking your cervix every day can be a bit of a pain, let's be honest!
Congrats on getting pregnant immediately 4 times, you are obviously one of the lucky ones. It often doesn't happen that easily so that is great!
beadreamer247 from Zephyrhills, FL on September 23, 2012:
I would like to add some more detailed hints your body gives you, far more clear than counting alone, because your cycle can change at any time and you will be totally thrown off with your count. I also learned it the other way around. The ovulation is pretty much exactly 14 days before your next period and your days vary from woman to woman depending on the length of each cycle during the time from the end of your last period until the ovulation .
For those who are not afraid of getting familiar with their gentitials and explore here is more information. When you get closer to the ovulation your discharge changes dramatically. It changes in color and consistency. The closer you get towards the "dangerous time" the more clear it becomes. If you put it between your thumb and finger it will stretch without breaking or falling apart.
Also your opening of the uterus changes, if you check it throughout your cycle it will move up and open slightly the closer you get towards your ovulation. This can also give you a hint that you might be pregnant....when it stays up and firms tightly instead of coming down towards your period.
Many are not aware of it, some might find it offensive to get to know their own body in such detail - so it is up to every single person how they feel about it. It helped me getting pregnant everytime I wanted to get pregnant. I got pregnant immediately every time! (4 times!)