Pregnancy

Information and support
It’s important to know the facts about pregnancy and conception so you can take control of your reproduction rather than leaving it to chance.

Being pregnant, or thinking you might be, can be a very exciting, but scary time. You may have lots of questions and concerns.

Before you make any decisions it’s good to know the facts about pregnancy and maybe talk things through with someone who can listen.

For specialist advice talk to the Family Planning Association (fpa).

Support

Having the support of your partner, family and friends can be helpful, and remember that there are various professionals, such as doctors, midwives, and counsellors who can answer questions and give you the space to talk about concerns.

Sexual Health Direct

Sexual Health Direct is a telephone helpline run by fpa, whose advisers can help you make decisions about what you want to do and signpost you to other helpful organisations. There is also useful information on their website about unplanned pregnancy.

Brook

If you are under 25, Brook is a sexual health charity that also has a helpline and useful information on their website.

National Childbirth Trust

National Childbirth Trust is the UK’s largest parenting charity. They support parents with information about pregnancy, birth and parenting, and they have a network where you can find practical and emotional support.

Adoption

If you are thinking about putting your child up for adoption to another family, you can learn more from the Adoption Information Line or the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.

If you are thinking about having an abortion, you can read more on this page.

Am I pregnant?

Signs of pregnancy

The most obvious sign that you are pregnant is when you miss your period. However, if you have irregular periods it may be difficult to tell when this has happened. Also, women can miss periods for other reasons, such as stress or weight changes.

Other signs of pregnancy may be feeling sick or nauseous, getting a metallic taste in your mouth, sore breasts, feeling tired, needing to urinate more often, or an increased amount of vaginal discharge.

The only way to know for sure is to get a pregnancy test.

Pregnancy testing

If you think you may be pregnant it is important to take a pregnancy test to find out for sure as soon as possible. This is because the sooner you find out, the more options you will have and the better you will be able to take care of your health. You can get a free pregnancy test at GP surgeries, family planning and young person’s clinics. Alternatively you can buy home pregnancy test kits from a chemist, which costs approximately £5.

It is recommended to take a pregnancy test three weeks after you have had unprotected sex, as this is usually how long it takes for the level of hormones the test looks for to be high enough to be detected. Or, if you are unsure when that was, you can take a test on the first day of your missed period.

Keep in mind that it is possible to have a ‘false negative’ result. This means that the test comes back negative, when, in fact, you are actually pregnant. This might happen if you do the test too soon, before there are enough pregnancy hormones in your body to show up on the test. If your period still doesn’t come, it is best to check in with your GP or a sexual health clinic to find out what is going on.

If have a positive pregnancy test, it is important to learn more about your options, and what you need to do next.

I’m pregnant

If you have had a positive pregnancy test result you might be unsure of what to do next, especially if the pregnancy was not planned.

You might want to take some time to look at your options. You could decide to have the baby yourself, give it up for adoption, or have an abortion.

It might help to talk things through with a friend, family member or helpline adviser to clear things in your mind. Calling FPA Sexual Health Direct or Brook (if you are under 25) is a good place to start.

No matter what you decide to do it is important to see a doctor. If you are continuing with the pregnancy this is so you can arrange pregnancy/antenatal care, which is important both for your and your baby’s health. If you decide to have an abortion, it is better to seek help and advice to get things in motion as soon as possible. And if you aren’t sure what you want to do, a doctor or nurse can help you make the decision.

Teenage parenthood

Becoming a young parent might mean a lot to think about when life is already pretty complicated! Here’s some help.

Becoming a parent is a big decision and will bring lots of changes to your life. One of the biggest things is working out where you are going to live and how you are going to support yourself and your child.

While there are some advantages to being a young mum or dad, there are disadvantages too – such as possible interruption to your education and having big responsibilities when your friends are gaining more freedom.

You might also meet with prejudice from other people because you are a young parent; but it is important to remember that having a child does not mean you do not have options, and there is a lot of support and help for young parents and their families.

You can talk to your GP about getting help, or you can call a charity that specialises in reproductive health. If you are under 25 you can talk to one of the counsellors at Brook.

You could also call Sexual Health Direct at fpa or the National Childbirth Trust

Pregnancy myths

There are a lot of myths about pregnancy, in terms of when women can or cannot get pregnant. Read on to get the facts.

Myth:

You can’t get pregnant when you have your period.

Fact:

It is definitely possible to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex during your period. This will depend on the length of your menstrual cycle, when you are ovulating and when you had sex. If you have irregular cycles, are not keeping track of the length of your cycle, or have not been trained by a doctor on how to tell when your fertile time is, then it is difficult to know when you might be at risk of pregnancy. For this reason it is best to always use contraception if you do not want to become pregnant.

Myth:

You can’t get pregnant if you have never had a period.

Fact:

Women ovulate approximately two weeks before their period comes, and young girls have especially irregular cycles, so it is definitely possible to get pregnant before you have your first ever period.

Myth:

You can’t get pregnant if you have sex standing up. You can’t get pregnant if you have sex in a bath. You can’t get pregnant on a Tuesday.

Fact:

Regardless of where or how you have sex, once those sperm are inside your body there’s always going to be a possibility of pregnancy.

Myth:

You can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex.

Fact:

Once sperm are inside you, there’s nothing that can be done to get them out so there is always a possibility of pregnancy.

Myth:

You can’t get pregnant if he pulls out before ejaculating.

Fact:

When men have an erection their body produces a fluid called pre-cum, and it is possible that this could contain sperm. This means that even if he pulls out before ejaculating he could still leave sperm behind that could cause a pregnancy. It’s also possible that he will get lost in the moment and not pull out in time.

Myth:

Douching (spraying liquid into your vagina to clean it) can prevent pregnancy.

Fact:

Once the sperm are inside your body there is nothing you can do to get them out.

Myth:

You can’t get pregnant if the girl is on top during sex.

Fact:

If the man’s sperm is inside you, it’s irrelevant what position you are in, gravity will not make any difference.

Myth:

You can’t get pregnant if the woman doesn’t have an orgasm.

Fact:

Orgasm has nothing to do with the ability to conceive.

Myth:

You can’t get pregnant if you pee immediately after sex.

Fact:

The urethra (hole that urine comes out) and vagina are two different holes, so peeing will not change the fact that there is sperm inside the vagina.

Essentially, no matter what the circumstance, how long you have sex, what position you have it in, or where you do it, every time you have sex without a condom (with or without the boy ejaculating) there is always a possibility for you to get pregnant.

If you want to know how pregnancy really happens, read our contraception page.

For these reasons it is best to always use some form of contraception if you do not want to have a baby. It is also important to keep in mind that unprotected sex is a good way to catch a sexually transmitted infection. Condoms are the only form of contraception that can prevent pregnancy and also help prevent the transmission of many infections, including HIV.

Page content supplied by www.tht.org.uk. Copyright 2012 © Terrence Higgins Trust.

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