A significant percentage of women fall pregnant by mistake, so if you’re worried that you may be facing an unplanned pregnancy, you’re not alone. Pregnancy symptoms can appear even to those who take precautions, like using birth control or condoms, are not completely safe from a slip-up. Condoms can break, and birth control may be rendered ineffective by medication or incorrect use.
All of this means that pregnancy could be a possibility – and you may either be overjoyed about it or, if it was unplanned, you may be feeling shocked, overwhelmed, confused or afraid.
First things first: make sure you’re pregnant
Home pregnancy tests are generally quite accurate. They work by detecting a hormone that is only present in your body when you’re pregnant, called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
However, this hormone can stay in your system for up to six to eight weeks after an abortion or miscarriage, so a positive pregnancy test isn’t necessarily concrete proof that you’re currently pregnant. To be 100% certain, you must visit your doctor or clinic for a blood test.
There are other indicators besides a lack of menstruating that can indicate you’re pregnant, like:
- Lighter or shorter periods
- Feeling unusually tired
- Frequently urinating
- Nipple sensitivity
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Feeling bloated
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in emotional state
- Stomach cramps
These symptoms can also be indicative of other things, so don’t just assume you’re pregnant until your doctor has confirmed it, and keep using birth control in the interim. These pregnancy symptoms can vary week by week.
Can I fall pregnant even if I didn’t have sexual intercourse?
Any time a woman has penetrative vaginal sex with a man, there’s the chance she could fall pregnant. However, in extremely rare cases, you could technically fall pregnant without actual penis-to-vagina contact – for example, if sperm gets onto your vulva, right near the entrance to your vagina, or if there’s semen on a hand or finger that is then inserted into your vagina.
That said, sperm can only survive outside of the body for a few minutes to a maximum of a few hours, so falling pregnant without having had actual intercourse is very unlikely.
Take your time
Once the pregnancy is confirmed, you may be feeling some intense emotions – emotions that you need time to process. You don’t have to make any decisions right away, but bear in mind that if you are wanting to terminate, abortion is possible up until 20 weeks into your pregnancy.
Remember: what you decide to do about your pregnancy is your choice. You and you alone are in charge of your body, and while you may want to hear the thoughts and opinions of others as you weigh up your options, you have the power and the right to make the final decision, be it abortion, adoption or parenting.
Making your decision
If your pregnancy was unplanned, you’ll need time to adjust to the news and process the massive amount of emotions you’re probably feeling.
Take the time you need to weigh up your options. Not being ready to parent is totally okay, and it’s your decision. You shouldn’t let anyone guilt you into making a decision that isn’t right for you. After all, this could change your life forever.
The options available to you are abortion, adoption or parenting. We have some helpful information that could help you start drawing up a list of pros and cons.
Read more: Unwanted pregnancy: What are my options?
You’re not alone: Marie Stopes offers caring, confidential advice and support
Whether you need someone to talk through your options with or you’ve made the decision to terminate, we can help.
Find your closest Marie Stopes centre and make an appointment online. And remember: never use an illegal abortion provider – it could cost you your life. Rather, turn to us for a safe, legal and affordable termination. Good luck with your decision – you are not alone.
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