Emergency Contraception: Preventing Pregnancy After You Have Had Sex
You can become pregnant if you have unprotected intercourse even just once! Maybe you tried to protect yourself but the condom broke. Perhaps you were taking birth control pills but missed two or more of them, or you usually get a birth control shot every three months but missed your last shot. Or you thought that if your boyfriend didnt ejaculate inside you, you couldnt get pregnant. Possibly in the heat of the moment, you just didnt think about birth control. Maybe you were sexually assaulted.
If you have had sex in the past few days, it isnt too late to prevent a pregnancy using emergency contraception. Although sometimes called the morning after pill, emergency contraception can be used up to three days after intercourse .
S Every Couple Should Take
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about womens health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.
Leyla Bilali, RN is a registered nurse, fertility nurse, and fertility consultant in the New York City area.
The inability to get pregnant if you’ve been trying for some time can be heartbreaking. But there are steps you can, and should, take. Sometimes the cause of infertility is easy to diagnose and can be treated.
If you’re under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year, or if you’re over 35 and have been trying for six months, it’s time to get help. If you’ve had two or more miscarriages back-to-back, you should see a professional. The same goes if you’re having any worrisome symptoms or have risk factors for infertility, even if you haven’t been trying for a baby for an entire year.
When Am I Most Likely To Get Pregnant
During the menstrual cycle, an egg is released from one of your ovaries and travels down the fallopian tube.
The egg only lives for 24 hours after ovulation, and a sperm must meet the egg within that period for pregnancy to happen.
This doesn’t mean that a woman has to have sex on the day of ovulation, as sperm can survive in your body for several days after sex.
If you want to get pregnant, having sex every couple of days will mean there are always sperm waiting to meet the egg when it’s released.
If you think you might be pregnant, read about the signs and symptoms of pregnancy and doing a pregnancy test.
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If You’re Already Pregnant
Before you start weighing your options for getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy, make absolutely sure you are in fact pregnant. All of the common symptoms of early pregnancyincluding nausea, vomiting, swollen or painful breasts, fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and even a light or missed periodcan also be caused by other things that have nothing to do with pregnancy. If you use a home pregnancy test, be aware that they can give inaccurate results during the earliest stage of pregnancy. The best way to find out for sure whether you are pregnant is to go to a doctor or a center like Planned Parenthood for a blood test.
If you are definitely pregnant and decide you dont want to carry the pregnancy to term because of social, lifestyle, or health factors, you are choosing abortion. If youre still very early in the pregnancy, you may have the option of medical abortionthat is, an abortion brought on by medication. If your pregnancy has progressed past nine weeks, you will need to have a surgical abortion. A doctor can help you determine how long you have been pregnant and advise you on the most suitable form of abortion for you.
Why Am I Not Getting Pregnant
Once youve made the choice to try, any delay can seem like youre waiting for something that will never happen. Every trip to the store can bring reminders of all the other pregnancies going on around you. Every monthly cycle without success can bring disappointment or feelings of failure.
You may begin to feel like there is something wrong. After all, how is it possible for babies to be born every day, but not for you to get pregnant?!?!? You may become anxious, depressed, or even desperate.
Dont worry if you are feeling these ways, youre not alone. Allow us to pass along some info on realistic timing, the most common fertility issues, and some ways to increase your chances.
Knowledge is power, and while we certainly cant guarantee that youll be pregnant next month, knowing more may help you on a path to your own baby.
If youre in your first months of trying for a baby, it might be surprising to you that getting pregnant isnt happening as quickly as you expected .
Most healthy couples will conceive within one year if they are actively trying to conceive.
If youre under age 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for a year, you should talk to your doctor about seeing a specialist. If youre over 35, youll want to see a specialist after 6 months of actively trying.
Potential causes of infertility include:
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Get To Know Your Cycle
How much do you know about your menstrual cycle? Really understanding helps you know when you’re most fertile, says Hillard.Ovulationis the best time to get pregnant. “This is the time to focus on having sex,” Hillard says.
It helps to become aware of the signs of ovulation, such as a change in your cervical mucus. It usually becomes thin and slippery when you are most fertile. Some women may also feel a one-sided twinge of pain.
Ovulation prediction kits can also help you predict the best time to get pregnant, says James Goldfarb, MD, director of the infertility service at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. Not only can they help assure you that you are ovulating, “if you are having infrequent intercourse, this tells you when to have it to increase your chances of getting pregnant,” he says.
Here’s how it works: The first day of your menstrual period is considered day one. “Start testing on day nine and keep going until you get a positive,” advises Joanne Piscitelli, MD, an associate professor of gynecology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Women with a 28-day cycle tend to ovulate on day 14. But many women have longer or shorter cycles, so casting a wide net can help you be sure.
How To Get Birth Control Pills
In the U.S., a person will need a prescription for birth control pills. Family planning clinics can provide prescriptions.
During an appointment, a healthcare provider will ask about the persons medical history and physical health to help them work out the most appropriate pill to prescribe.
In some states, a person can get a prescription online or directly from a pharmacist.
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Can You Get Pregnant Even If You Use The Pull
The withdrawal method of contraception, also known as “pull-out” method or “coitus interruptus,” is when one partner removes their penis from the other partner’s vagina and away from their partner’s genitals before they ejaculate. This is generally not considered an effective form of birth control. Out of every 100 people using only withdrawal as birth control, an estimated 22 to 27 of them will get pregnant within one year . Withdrawal often doesn’t work due to the fact that it’s very hard to time the pulling-out correctly. Sperm may also be present in some people’s pre-ejaculatory fluid .
Skin Changes During Pregnancy
First, lets face it: Pregnancy-related skin changes happen to many people. Hormones can take the blame or you can chalk it up to just another one of those normal quirks that come with the mama-to-be gig.
While some lucky ladies experience 9 months of pure complexion perfection, others experience at least one less favorable new or worsening skin issue at some point. The most common are:
- dry skin
People with preexisting skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea may also experience a change in their symptoms .
And because your body is all in when it comes to pregnancy, pesky skin changes can affect other places, too think stretch marks, spider veins, hair growth, and even hair loss.
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Not Trying Long Enough
The first thing to consider is how long have you been trying. It may feel like you’ve been trying foreverand maybe you have!but it’s important to know that many couples won’t conceive right away.
About 80% of couples conceive after six months of trying. Approximately 90% will be pregnant after 12 months of trying to get pregnant. This assumes you have well-timed intercourse every month.
Consume Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine can cross the placenta and affect the fetus, just like alcohol, so its important not to consume too much caffeine while youre expecting.
Its recommended to limit caffeine intake to less than 300 milligrams per day, as many researchers believe that higher amounts can negatively affect the fetus and contribute to pregnancy health problems such as miscarriage and low birth weight. A typical 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains around 130 mg of caffeine.
If you find it difficult to give up coffee while pregnant, just be sure to monitor how much you ingest.
Low-to-moderate caffeine intake in pregnancy does not appear to be associated with any adverse effects, so if you find it difficult to give up coffee while pregnant, just be sure to monitor how much you ingest.
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Does Breastfeeding Prevent Pregnancy
Breastfeeding can be a short-term method of birth control in very specific situations. The risk of pregnancy is less than 2 in 100 if all three of these describe you:1
- You have a baby who is less than 6 months old
- You exclusively breastfeed, meaning that you only feed your baby your breastmilk all of the time
- You have not gotten a period after childbirth
Talk to your doctor about birth control if you do not want to get pregnant while nursing.
Have Sex Every Other Day During The Fertile Window
The “fertile window” spans a six-day interval the five days prior to ovulation and the day of it, according to theAmerican Society for Reproductive Medicine. Every month, a woman is most fertile on these days.
Many women are turning to new technology tools, such as fertility-tracking apps and websites, to help them keep tabs on when they may be more likely to conceive, but a 2020 review in the journalBMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health suggests that there is limited independent research on their accuracy. In a study published in 2016 in the journalObstetrics & Gynecology, scientists analyzed 50 popular fertility-tracking websites and apps with a hypothetical woman, and found that the results varied wildly, with many mistakenly tagging days outside of the fertility window, Live Science reported.
When a woman has identified that fertility window, should they have sex every day? Research has shown that there hasn’t been a big difference in pregnancy rates between couples who had sex every day during the “fertile window” compared with couples who did it every other day , Pavone said. “And having sex every other day might be easier for a couple to pull off,” she added.
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- Glow Ovulation, Period Tracker
- Fertility Friend FF App
- Clue: Health & Period Tracker
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Avoid Making Love During Periods
It might just prove to be disastrous to make out during menstruation. Many feel that having sex during periods is safest, but this is not the case. Avoid having unprotected sex during menstrual cycle if you want to be safe.
Also this is the time when you are most open to infections and things can also get messy. So its best to avoid sex during your periods.
Neem To Avoid Pregnancy After Sex
Neem is one of the most popular Indian home remedies to avoid pregnancy after unprotected sex. It is available in the form of leaves, oil, and dry leaf extract. If injected into the uterus, neem oil can kill sperm in just 30 seconds. On the other hand, neem tablets can promote temporary sterility in men.
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Begin Basic Fertility Testing
Fertility testing includes blood work for the woman and a semen analysis for the man. Depending on your symptoms, testing also may include a hysterosalpingogram , vaginal ultrasound, or diagnostic laparoscopy. Your doctor will also likely perform a basic pelvic exam and Pap smear, and some test for certain sexually transmitted infections or diseases.
Basic fertility tests may or may not lead to a diagnosis. Up to 30% of couples never find out why they can’t conceive, in which case they are diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
It’s normal to feel anxious and worried as you go through fertility testing. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. An in-person support group or an online fertility forum also can provide emotional support.
Now You Know So What’s Next
Get informed, decide what level of risk is okay for you, and choose what kind of contraception or protection to use. Remember that only condoms can protect you against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections . The safest option is to use condoms and another form of birth control. If you’re taking the pill, you can track in Clue and get personalized advice on what to do if you miss a pill.
If after reading this you’re worried you might be pregnant, check out our guide to emergency contraception, advice about what to do if your period is late, and information on the symptoms of early pregnancy.
Whatever method of contraception or STI prevention you use, you can use Clue to track your sex habits, signs of pregnancy, and symptoms of STIs.
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Double Up By Using Barrier Protection Too
Birth control is highly effective at preventing pregnancy, but it wont prevent you from sexually transmitted infections. Thats why you should double up by using barrier protection. Condoms are the only way to prevent STIs, and including a hormonal birth control increases the protection.
Do NOT use male and female condoms at the same time. Male and female condoms are available at your local drugstore or health clinic. You can also speak with your doctor about getting and using condoms.
Condoms are useless if youre not putting them on correctly or if youre using the wrong size.
To use a male condom, you should:
- Place the condom on the head of an erect penis. Pull back the foreskin first if the penis is uncircumcised.
- Make sure to pinch the air out of the condom tip.
- Carefully unroll the condom all the way down.
- Hold the condom at the base before pulling out. After you pull out, remove the condom carefully and toss it in the trash.
- Never reuse a condom and never use two at the same time.
With a female condom, the closed end has a thick ring that keeps the condom in place in the vagina. The open end has a thin ring that covers the vaginal opening.
To use a female condom, you should:
Types Of Birth Control
There are numerous types of birth control which can help women prevent unwanted pregnancy and regulate menstrual cycles. These can be classified into reversible and irreversible methods. Below is a list of all the various methods of birth control, along with useful information about what it is and how it works. It is important to remember that of the methods listed below, ONLY the male and the female condom provide protection against STIs.
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Of Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy
Research participants expressed strong support for abstinence and the use of condoms, referring to these as not only the safest forms of contraception but as the most efficacious ways to prevent the consequences of unplanned pregnancies. Most of the respondents in their early years of study particularly favoured abstinence, and these respondents were also the least knowledgeable about contraceptive issues. Among the sexually active participants , especially those in the later years of study, male condom was the preferred contraceptive.
Overall, respondents narratives revealed three main contraceptive use patterns, namely, condom only, condom or pills, and condom, pills or douching. One respondent remarked thus about her use of the first pattern:
I use protection, condoms of course I always insist that my partner use a condom, because I do not think that a female condom is hygienic enough. .
The second pattern, the use of either condom or emergency pills, was evident in the following response:
I protect myself by using condoms or pills. I use Postinor.
The third pattern, condom, pills or douching, was summed up by a 24-year old respondent:
I use condom, but after sex I use drugs-Postinor – or salt and water or wash off immediately. .
Perceived Severity Of Unplanned Pregnancy
Most participants consider unplanned pregnancy to have many negative consequences. The perceived stigma from friends, alienation from parents, perceived effect on education and perceived stringent financial implication were mentioned as reasons why most participants consider unplanned pregnancy to be severe. The views from some of the studys participants capture this:
My parents are disciplinarians. My Father can disown me as a daughter if he hears that I got pregnant in school seeing how stressful it is to pay my school fees .
If I get pregnant, I may not be able to cope financially. My parents would not support me if I get pregnant in school because they sent me to learn in school and I am meant to behave myself .
It is like a stigma to get pregnant in higher institution. People have a negative perception towards pregnancy out of wedlock. The Yorubas would say that ko loyun, o gboyun ni . Your classmates would think that you are not smart enough .
Many participants stated that they go the extra mile in their quest to prevent unplanned pregnancy with some even reporting having a history of abortion.
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