Can I Get Pregnant If…?: Part 3
Questions around if, when, and how a person can get pregnant are super common. Previously, we’ve covered some questions about specific sex acts that can lead to pregnancy as well as some of the many questions posed by teens around the likelihood of pregnancy in various circumstances. For the third installment we’re answering five more questions we’ve heard from a number of our young people.
Can I get pregnant if I’ve been on birth control for a while?
Your chance of getting pregnant is the same whether you've been on your birth control for two weeks or two years. Some methods may take up to seven days to be effective in preventing pregnancy if you start them in the middle of a cycle. Similarly, it’s possible to get pregnant as soon as you stop using most methods, which is why it’s so important to use birth consistently. That’s why it’s so important to work with a health care provider to figure out which method will work best for you and to ensure that you understand how the method you choose works.
While having no period is a common side effect for some birth control, it doesn't mean the chance of getting pregnant is any different after you stop using your method.
Can I get pregnant if I missed a pill/was late with my shot/forgot to put on a new patch on time?
You can, but the likelihood of pregnancy depends on what type of birth control you use. No matter your method you want to consider taking emergency contraception just in case.
If you only miss one pill, you’re likely ok, but should take two pills the next day and continue to use the rest of the pack as normal. If you miss more than one pill you should use a back-up method such as condoms or not have sex for seven days while you continue to take the rest of your pills as normal.
The shot prevents pregnancy for up to three months after it’s given. To continue using the shot you’ll need to get another shot on time. If you are late getting your next shot, use a back up method, such as condoms,
If you use the patch and you’re more than two days late to change it, you’ll need to use a back-up method such as condoms for seven days.
Can I get pregnant if I pee after having sex?
Myth alert! Peeing does NOT kill sperm! Any time that semen is in or near the vagina it is possible to get pregnant. This means that if you’re not using birth control there is a possibility of pregnancy even if you use the bathroom afterwards. And peeing after sex also does not change your chances of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), use a condom or internal condom to help protect yourself from STIs.
While peeing after sex won’t prevent pregnancy or protect you from STIS, it’s still a good idea as it can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Can I get pregnant if it’s my first time having penetrative sex/my hymen didn’t break?
This is a great question, and one that a lot of our Teen Talk readers wonder about (here is a great video on how pregnancy happens)! Anytime there is semen inside or around the vagina, pregnancy is possible even if you’ve never had your period before or if you have never had sex. This is true even if your hymen (the thin fleshy tissue that stretches across part of the opening to the vagina) didn’t break. Everyone's hymen is slightly different, sometimes it breaks the first time you have sex, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it breaks earlier (like when you put in a tampon or play sports). Some people's hymens may never break.
Can I get pregnant if I’ve taken emergency contraception more than once in the past?
Yes, absolutely! Emergency contraception (EC) is birth control you can take up to five days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy before it starts. That means that it is not the same this as an abortion. There are two types of EC pills and two types of IUDs that can be used as EC.
No matter your question, if you’re still worried about getting pregnant you have options. If it's been less than five days since the act in question, you might want to take emergency contraception. There are several options including emergency contraception pills, which anyone can get over the counter without a prescription.
If it's been longer than five days since you had unprotected sex, EC won’t help you prevent pregnancy or cause an abortion if you take it. To find out if you are pregnant, you can buy an inexpensive pregnancy test at most drug or dollar stores, or you might be able to get a test for free at your local health clinic. If you buy a home pregnancy test, follow the instructions that come with it. You should wait at least 10 days to take a test, and results are more accurate if you wait until a few days after you expect your next period. Remember, no matter what the test results say, you’ve got options.
If you aren’t trying to get pregnant right now, you can reduce the worry factor with one of the many birth control options. Need help finding a clinic? Use our clinic locator; just type in your zip code for all the info you’ll need to find a health center nearby.
Note: We do our best to respond to questions in the comments, but if we've already answered your question in the article or another comment, we may not answer it again. If your question is time sensitive, we recommend calling the San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI) hotline at 415-989-SFSI (7374) or contacting a health care provider. You may also want to check out one of our sequels to this post, Umm can I Get Pregnant If…: Part 1 and Can I Get Pregnant If…: Part 2.