By Jamie Rivera Published 01/20/2011 13:07:00 | Views: 7378

Taking a pregnancy test is the only way you'll know for sure if you're pregnant. You can take a home pregnancy test or go to a health center for testing. A pregnancy test can detect pregnancy after a missed period — some can even detect it a few days before a missed period.

You may have lots of questions about how pregnancy happens and how you can find out if you’re pregnant. Here are some answers.
  • What Exactly Causes Pregnancy?

    Pregnancy can happen when semen gets in the vagina or on the vulva. Here are some examples of things that do NOT cause pregnancy:

    • kissing
    • masturbation
    • body rubbing
    • oral sex
    • anal sex

    These things won't cause pregnancy — unless sperm comes into contact with the vagina or vulva.

  • Can Pre-ejaculate Cause Pregnancy?

    Pre-ejaculate is the liquid that oozes out of the penis during sexual excitement before ejaculation, when semen spurts out. It’s also called “pre-cum.”  Unlike semen, pre-ejaculate does not contain sperm, But it may pick up sperm remaining in the urethra from a previous ejaculation. If that happens, it might cause pregnancy. 

  • How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant After Having Sex?

    Pregnancy doesn't start when partners have intercourse — it can take up to 6 days after intercourse for the sperm and egg to join and form a fertilized egg. Then, it takes 6 to 10 days for the fertilized egg to completely implant itself in the lining of the uterus. Pregnancy begins during implantation when the hormone needed to support pregnancy is released. That hormone is called the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG). Pregnancy tests work by detecting it.

    A woman who is concerned about unintended pregnancy after unprotected vaginal intercourse may want to consider emergency contraception (EC). EC is effective if started within 120 hours. If started within 72 hours, EC can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent. So, the sooner it’s started, the better.

    Plan B, One Step, and Next Choice are brands of EC that are available over the counter at many pharmacies for women over 17. Teens under 17 can still get EC with a prescription. The best way young women can protect themselves is to get EC before an accident happens, and keep it on hand in case they need it. That way, they won't waste time after unprotected intercourse waiting to get an appointment with a health care provider or trying to get a prescription filled.

  • Can I Get Pregnant if His Penis Gets Near my Vagina but Not in It?

    Pregnancy can happen when sperm get in the vagina or on the vulva. The most likely way to become pregnant is through unprotected vaginal intercourse.

    However, if partners engage in body rubbing with their clothes off, there is a chance that sperm may come into contact with the vulva or vagina — which can cause pregnancy, even if partners don't actually have vaginal intercourse.

    If partners are concerned about the risk of pregnancy from body rubbing, they may want to consider using condoms or another method of birth control. Condoms also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections that can be spread in ejaculate and pre-ejaculate.

    If partners have reached the point where they may start having vaginal intercourse, they should talk about what kind of birth control they want to prepare themselves with before they start having intercourse.

  • If I Miss My Period, Does That Mean I’m Pregnant?

    Missing your period is the biggest sign that you might be pregnant. If you missed your period, and you had unprotected sex, it’s a good idea to take a pregnancy test to see if you’re pregnant.

    While a missed period is a symptom of pregnancy, there are many other reasons why you might miss your period — such as stress, illness, or not eating enough. But if you've had unprotected vaginal intercourse and you've missed your period, a pregnancy test may be the wisest choice you can make.

  • Can I Get Pregnant Only at Certain Times of the Month?

    A woman has a good chance of becoming pregnant from unprotected vaginal intercourse during the 6 days of her cycle that end in ovulation (the release of an egg). Ovulation usually occurs about 14 days before the start of a woman's period — the beginning of her menstrual cycle. She is less likely to become pregnant from unprotected intercourse in the day or two following ovulation, but it is possible.

    Since ovulation occurs 14 days before the start of a woman's period — not after the start of her period — it can be difficult to predict. (Day one of the menstrual cycle is the first day of bleeding.) Also, many women have menstrual cycles that are not the same length each month.

    Remember, any girl who has unprotected vaginal intercourse runs the risk of becoming pregnant, whether it's her first time having sex or the 100th time. It’s even possible to become pregnant before ever having a period. Pregnancy can happen when sperm get in the vagina or on the vulva. Having sex without using a latex or female condom also puts you at risk for sexually transmitted infections.

    Teens who have vaginal intercourse need to make choices about birth control and preventing infections.

  • How Do I Take a Pregnancy Test?

    If you think you might be pregnant, the first thing you need to do is find out for sure, either by going to a health clinic for testing or by taking a home pregnancy test. You can contact your local Planned Parenthood health center to schedule an appointment for a pregnancy test.

    Home pregnancy tests are available at pharmacies. They usually cost about $8–$15 in the U.S. Pregnancy tests are effective early — as soon as a few days after a missed period. But to get an accurate result, be sure to follow exactly the directions on the package.

    Women who take home pregnancy tests often go to clinics to have the results confirmed by a health care provider. Also, if the test is positive, and you're pregnant, the provider can offer information about your pregnancy options.

  • How Can I Avoid Pregnancy?

    The best way to avoid pregnancy is by being abstinent — not having sex. Using birth control consistently and correctly is the best way a sexually active woman can avoid pregnancy.  There are many safe, effective birth control options.

  • Should I Take Emergency Contraception (The Morning-After Pill)?

    If you've had unprotected sex within the past five days, and you don’t want to be pregnant, you may want to take emergency contraception (EC). EC, also known as the “morning after pill,” can reduce the risk of pregnancy if started within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected vaginal intercourse. The sooner it's taken, the better. If started within 72 hours of unprotected sex, EC can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent.

    Women over 17 can buy EC over the counter without a prescription — Plan B, One Step, or Next Choice.  Women under 17 need to get a prescription.  For more information on emergency contraception, contact your local Planned Parenthood health center.

By Jamie Rivera 01/20/2011 13:07:00

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