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.
When can you 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)
Pregnancy can also happen if your usual contraception hasn’t worked, for example, if you’re on the Pill but you’ve vomited or had diarrhoea. Contraception only works if it’s used correctly and consistently. Find out about:
The methods of contraception
There are lots of methods to choose from, so don’t be put off if the first thing you use isn’t quite right for you; you can try another. You can read about each of the different methods of contraception by visiting these pages:
- combined pill
- condoms (female)
- condoms (male)
- contraceptive implant
- contraceptive injection
- contraceptive patch
- intrauterine device (IUD)
- intrauterine system (IUS)
- natural family planning
- progestogen-only pill
- vaginal ring
There are two permanent methods of contraception:
Where to get contraception
Contraceptive services are free and confidential, including to people under 16 as long as they’re mature enough to understand the information and decisions involved. There are strict guidelines for healthcare professionals who work with people under 16.
You can get contraception free from:
- most GP surgeries (talk to your GP or practice nurse)
- community contraceptive clinics
- some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics
- sexual health clinics (these offer contraceptive and STI testing services)
- some young people’s services (call 0800 567123 )
What’s emergency contraception?
Some people may be pleased at the thought of being pregnant, but if you want to avoid pregnancy you can use emergency contraception. This can prevent pregnancy if you’ve had unprotected sex, but should only be used in an emergency. It’s not a replacement for regular contraception.
There are two types:
- the emergency contraceptive pill, also called the “morning-after” pill, which must be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex: it’s more effective the sooner it’s taken
- the IUD, which can be put into your uterus up to five days after unprotected sex
You can get free emergency contraception from GPs, community contraceptive clinics, Brook Advisory Centres (if you’re under 25), some sexual health and genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics, clinics for young people and some pharmacies. Find sexual health services, including contraceptive clinics, near you.
You can get it whatever your age. If you’re over 16, you can buy the emergency contraceptive pill from pharmacies.
The first sign of pregnancy that most girls and women notice is a missed period, but in order 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 GP surgeries, Brook Advisory Centres (if you’re under 25), contraceptive clinics or young people’s clinics. 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 GP as soon as possible to find out for sure. Whatever the results of your test, they can offer you help and support. They can help you to get effective contraception if you’re not pregnant, and they can explain your options if you are pregnant.
Some organisations offer free pregnancy tests but believe that abortion is wrong, and may not give you information about how to get one. If you go to an organisation for a pregnancy test or pregnancy counselling, ask at your first visit whether it refers women for abortions. If it doesn’t, it may not give you information about all the options available to you.
When can you 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 you had unprotected sex.
If you do a test yourself and it’s positive, this means that you’re pregnant. Go to a clinic or GP as soon as possible so that they can talk to you about your options and tell you what to expect.
What if I’m pregnant?
If the test is positive and you’re pregnant, you’ll need to decide what to do next. Talk to a doctor or nurse at the clinic about your options. You could:
- continue with the pregnancy and have the baby
- continue with the pregnancy and put the baby up for adoption
- end the pregnancy by having an abortion
Get all the information you need so that you can make the decision 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.
Talking to someone about how you feel can help. This could be your mum or dad, or the doctor or nurse at the clinic.
Whether you decide to continue the pregnancy or have an abortion, talk to a doctor or nurse as soon as possible so that you can start your antenatal (pregnancy) care, or be referred for an abortion.
Abortion is safer and easier the earlier it’s done in pregnancy. Most abortions in England and Wales are done in the first 13 weeks (three months).