If you’re a girl and you have unprotected sex (without contraception) with a boy, you could get pregnant. Find out the signs of pregnancy and where to go for support.
Pregnancy is a real possibility when you have sex, and there are lots of rumours about when and where you can get pregnant.
You can read this whole article, or go straight to the relevant bit for you:
- When can I get pregnant?
- What's emergency contraception and where can I get it from?
- What are the signs of pregnancy?
- When can I take a pregnancy test?
- What if I'm pregnant?
When can I get pregnant?
Don’t believe everything you hear. The truth is that it's possible for you to get pregnant:
- if it’s the first time you're having sex
- at any time of the month, including during your period
- even if the boy pulls his penis out before he comes (ejaculates)
- even if you haven't started your periods
- no matter what position you have sex in, including standing up
- even if you stand up, wash or jump up and down immediately after sex
- if you don’t have an orgasm
- even if the boy says he’ll be careful (boys can't stop themselves from leaking sperm before they come)
Read more facts about sex.
Pregnancy can also happen if your usual contraception hasn’t worked – for example, if you’re on the pill, but you've vomited, had diarrhoea or forgotten to take the pill. Contraception only works if it's used correctly and consistently. Find out:
- the 15 methods of contraception
- what to do if you're on the pill and you're sick or have diarrhoea
What's emergency contraception?
If you have unprotected sex, or if you think your contraception has failed, you can avoid an unplanned pregnancy by using emergency contraception . This should only be used in an emergency and is not a replacement for regular contraception. Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) .
There are two types:
- The emergency contraceptive pill (sometimes called the "morning-after" pill). There are two kinds of emergency contraceptive pill. Levonelle has to be taken within 72 hours of sex; ellaOne has to be taken within 120 hours of sex. Both are more effective the sooner they are taken.
- The intrauterine device (IUD), which can be put into your uterus up to five days after unprotected sex.
You can get free emergency contraception in the UK from doctors, community contraceptive clinics, Brook services (if you’re under 25), some sexual health and genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics, clinics for young people and some pharmacies.
You can get emergency contraception, whatever your age in the UK. If you're over 16, you can buy the emergency contraceptive pill from pharmacies.
What are the signs of pregnancy?
The first sign of pregnancy that most girls and women notice is a missed period, but to know for sure, you'll need to take a pregnancy test. Find out about doing a pregnancy test.
Free and confidential tests are available at some doctor surgeries, Brook services (if you’re under 25), contraceptive clinics or young people’s clinics. In the UK they won’t tell your parents, even if you're under 16. You can also buy pregnancy testing kits from a pharmacy or supermarket.
Other signs and symptoms of pregnancy include:
- sore breasts
- feeling sick or vomiting at any time of the day or night
- feeling very tired
- needing to pee often
If you’re worried that you might be pregnant, go to a clinic or doctor as soon as possible to find out for sure. Whatever the results of your test, they can offer you help and support. If you are pregnant, a doctor or nurse will explain your options and where to get advice and independent counselling.
If you're not pregnant, you can get advice on effective contraception to avoid the risk of an unplanned pregnancy in the future.
When can I take a pregnancy test?
You can take a test the day your period is due. If you’re not sure when your period is due, do the test 21 days (three weeks) after either:
- you had unprotected sex
- the time you may have forgotten to take the pill
- think there may have been a problem with your contraception
What if I'm pregnant?
If the test is positive, you're pregnant and you need to decide what to do next. Talk to a doctor or nurse at the clinic, or to your doctor, about your options. It might also help to talk to someone close to you.
Get all the information you need as soon as possible, so you can make a decision about the pregnancy that’s right for you. Don't delay your decision, and don’t pretend the pregnancy isn’t real, as it won’t go away.
If you decide to continue the pregnancy, you will need to start your antenatal (pregnancy) care as soon as possible.
An unplanned pregnancy can be stressful and you may feel unable to continue with it. You should discuss this with your doctor, who will explain your options, including the possibility of an abortion.
Abortion is safer and easier the earlier it is carried out in pregnancy. Most abortions in England and Wales are done in the first 13 weeks (three months). All women requesting an abortion should be offered the chance to discuss their options with a trained counsellor.