Preventing Pregnancy FAQs

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Preventing Pregnancy FAQs

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Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions about pregnancy prevention. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, you can check out more resources.

From: It's Your Sex Life

FAQ

Can I really get pregnant or get someone pregnant the first time I have sex, or if I only have sex with someone once?
Yes, you can. Every single time you have sex there is a chance of pregnancy. The only 100% effective way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. If you are having sex, it is critical that you use protection each and every time.There are different methods of protection to choose from. Read on for more on what works and what doesn’t work so well.
If I am having sex, what are the most effective options for preventing pregnancy?
If you do have sex, there are different methods of protection to choose from- condoms, the pill, the IUD, the implant, the ring, and the patch, to name a few. When used correctly and consistently (that’s every time) they are very effective at preventing pregnancy. Some options- like trying to “time it right” or withdrawal are less effective and harder to manage. To find out more about the options that are available check out Birth Control Methods or talk to your healthcare provider about finding the method that’s right for you.
Do I need my parent’s permission to go on the pill?
You can’t just go into a store and buy the pill like you can with condoms, but there are many health centers and clinics where you do not need your parent’s permission to get a prescription for it. The best place to start is to make an appointment with a health center near you to get an exam and discuss all of the various options for preventing pregnancy. If you can’t talk openly with your parents about using protection, it’s a good idea to find a trusted adult who cares about you to talk with. Condoms are not the most effective at preventing pregnancy but they are the only method that prevents STDs so it’s smart to use them in addition to another method.
I tried the pill but didn’t like it. What other options do I have?
There are nearly 50 different brands of pills and chances are there is one that will work for you. Ask your doctor to help you find one that’s better for you. And if the pill isn’t right for you, or if taking a pill everyday isn’t realistic for you there are many other methods that might be better. For example, the implant is good for 3 years, Depo Provera only requires a shot every three months, the ring only needs to be changed be changed once a month. Since most methods require a prescription the first time, you’ll need to see a health care professional.It’s also good to speak with a health care provider about all the options and what is a good match for you.

Check out Birth Control Methods or talk to your healthcare provider to find out more about finding the method that’s right for you.
I had unprotected sex last night, or the condom broke...
If a condom breaks or you forgot to take your Pill a few times this month, or you had unprotected sex for some other reason, there is something that you can do to reduce the risk of pregnancy, but you need to act quickly. Emergency contraception (sometimes called “EC” or the “morning after pill”) may be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of having unprotected sex, but it is most effective within the first 24 hours. The sooner you take it the more likely it is to be effective. Plan B One-Step is a brand of EC that is available over the counter at drugstores to anyone of any age – you do not a need a prescription to get it.

Emergency contraception works by preventing or delaying ovulation, preventing fertilization, or preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. Emergency contraception does not interrupt or terminate an established pregnancy; rather, it prevents pregnancy from occurring. That means if you are already pregnant, emergency contraception won’t end your pregnancy. Studies show that emergency contraception reduces your chance of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent. It should not be used as regular contraception as there are many methods which are much more effective in preventing pregnancy.

EC will not prevent pregnancy if you take it before sex, nor does it protect you from pregnancy during future sex acts. It is for emergency-use only and in situations when regular contraception fails. It also provides no protection against STDs. If the condom breaks, you are also at risk for contracting STDs. It's important to get tested and treated, if necessary.

EC does not have any known serious side effects, but it can cause nausea or vomiting for a day or so. You can ask your provider to prescribe an anti-nausea medication to combat any symptoms. If you do vomit, it can make the treatment less effective, so let your health care provider know.

Emergency contraception costs about $45; it may cost less or be free at family planning clinics and health centers. For more information, call the Emergency Contraception Hotline at 1-888-NOT2LATE or go to not-2-late.com.
I’ve had unprotected sex and I’ve never gotten pregnant. Does this mean I can’t get pregnant?
No. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. Unless you are actively trying to prevent a pregnancy, chances are high that you will get pregnant. The only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy is to not have sex but using contraception carefully and consistently can be up to 99% effective. Check out Birth Control Methods for more information. It’s important to have a protection plan in place. If you are having sex and you don’t want to get pregnant you have to use something to prevent it from happening.You should also use a condom each time you have sex since condoms are the only method that protect against both pregnancy and STDs.
I think I might be pregnant...
If you have had sexual intercourse and you’ve missed your period, especially if your breasts are tender or swollen or you feel tired or sick to your stomach, you may be pregnant. If you think you might be pregnant, you need to get a pregnancy test right away to find out for sure. You can arrange an appointment to see your health care provider, or buy a home pregnancy test at a drugstore, supermarket, or online (they cost anywhere from $10 to $30). Home pregnancy tests are pretty accurate if you follow instructions carefully, but you should have a test done at a health clinic to confirm your results. Many Planned Parenthood and health department clinics provide pregnancy testing for free or at reduced cost.

If you experience any of the following, you should call your provider or clinic, or go to a hospital emergency room right away. These may be signs of a problem such as a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy or miscarriage:
  • Sudden, intense pain, persistent pain or cramping in the lower abdomen, especially if it’s on one side
  • Irregular bleeding or spotting with abdominal pain, especially after a light or late period
  • Fainting or dizziness that lasts more than a few seconds
  • Sudden heavy bleeding with clots or clumps of tissue after a late period
  • Abdominal pain and a fever
I am pregnant...
When you find out you are pregnant, you essentially have three options to consider: to continue the pregnancy and become a parent to your child, to continue the pregnancy and make an adoption plan for the child, or to terminate the pregnancy. This is a big decision and every road ahead is hard no matter what you choose. That’s why preventing a pregnancy in the first place is so important.
What is the abortion pill?
There are a ton of decisions to make when you are considering having an abortion. It is best to through your options with your healthcare provider, and with support from someone close to you. It is important to remember that you are not alone--3 out of 10 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. There are two types of abortions-- an in-clinic abortion, and the abortion pill. Some states require parental permission for anyone under 18.The abortion pill is a medicine that ends an pregnancy up to 9 weeks after the first day of a woman's last period. (some states limit to 49 days.)

Here's what to expect:
  • After going over your medical history, having a physical exam and an ultrasound, you will read and sign some paperwork.
  • You will take the first pill at the clinic, and take some antibiotics afterwards.
  • After 24-48 hours, you will take the second pill, misoprotstol, which causes the uterus to empty.
  • The second pill, misoprostol,will cause you to have cramps and bleed heavily.
  • Most women abort in 4-5 hours, sometimes a few days.
  • Some women feel cramps, nausea, similar to a period.
  • After the abortion, you will have a follow up appointment with your healthcare provider.
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    For confidential resources and support, you can contact Exhale, a free, after-abortion talkline.
What is an in-clinic abortion?
There are a ton of decisions to make when you are considering having an abortion. It is best to talk through your options with your healthcare provider, and with support from someone close to you. It is important to remember that you are not alone--3 out of 10 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. There are two types of abortions-- an in-clinic abortion, and the abortion pill. Some states require parental permission for anyone under 18. Costs range from $700-$1700 for first trimester abortions and increase in cost for later term abortions. There are two types of in-clinic abortions: aspiration, which is used up to 16 weeks after a woman’s last period, and D&E — dilation and evacuation — which is usually performed later than 16 weeks after a woman's last period.

Here's what to expect:
  • After going over your medical history, having a physical exam and an ultrasound, you will read and sign some paperwork.
  • You will get medicine for pain, you may be offered sedation or a numbing medication into or near your cervix.
  • A speculum will be inserted into your vagina.
  • The opening of your cervix may be stretched with dilators (you might have absorbent dilators inserted a day or a few hours in advance).
  • The dilators will absorb fluid and get bigger, slowly stretching your cervix, sometimes medication is used as well.
  • You will be given antibiotics to prevent infection.
  • A tube is inserted through the cervix into the uterus.
  • Either a hand-held suction device or a suction machine gently empties your uterus.
  • If any remaining tissue is there, an instrument called a curette is used to remove it.
  • You will then rest in a recovery room and be given aftercare instructions, with a 24/7 number you can call if you have any concerns.


The procedure takes about 5-10 min, and you will have follow up appointment with your healthcare provider.

For a D&E abortion, you can expect the same as above, but in later second-trimester procedures, you may also need a shot through your abdomen to make sure that the fetus's heart stops before the procedure begins. The procedure takes about 10-20 minutes and you will also have a follow up appointment with your healthcare provider.

For confidential resources and support, you can contact Exhale, a free, after-abortion talkline.
I am NOT pregnant…
Even if you just had a pregnancy scare, it can be a life-changing experience. Take time to consider what you can do to avoid this situation in the future. Maybe you don’t want to have sex – it’s okay to say no even if you’ve said yes before. If you are going to have sex, take the time to figure out which method of birth control is best for you. Then use it. Just thinking about it doesn’t count as protection.
What if I think I want to get pregnant and have a baby?
Remember, it’s all about timing: preventing pregnancy now can help you be the best parent you can be later in life, when you’re emotionally and financially ready. Most teen moms say they love their children but wish they’d waited until their lives were more settled before becoming a parent. Babies can be wonderful. They give a lot of love back, but they depend on you for everything. Babies also deserve grown up parents who are ready and able to care for them. Having a baby often leads to a lot of problems in a relationship — it usually doesn’t strengthen a relationship or lead to marriage. In fact, 8 out of 10 fathers never marry the teen mothers of their babies. Raising a child is hard. Raising a child alone is even harder. Being a teenager is a great time for growing up, getting an education, meeting new people and having fun — pregnancy and parenthood make that all very hard to do.

If you are a teen parent or facing a pregnancy, there are many resources and organizations that can offer you guidance and assistance.

Need more info? Check out our hotlines & resources.

1 Comment

  1. Blaire says:

    These have been some interesting and informational FAQs!

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