I Think I’m Pregnant. Now What?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a simple, catchall answer for this? In actuality, what to do really depends on how long you think you’ve been pregnant and what you want to do about it.

We’ll start with the earliest situation: you are concerned you may be pregnant, but it has been less than two weeks since you think it may have happened. At this early stage, there are a couple of things to do.

  1. Don’t have any (or any more) unprotected sex. Until you find out if you’re pregnant or not, use a condom every time or hold out completely until you find and start using a birth control method that works for you.
  2. Mark your calendar with the date you can take a pregnancy test to find out for sure. A urine test done at a clinic or with a home pregnancy test can detect a positive result 14­–16 days after unprotected sex.

If you are a few days late for your period and/or it has been at least two weeks since you had sex, you can find out if you are pregnant today. There are two ways to do it.

  1. Go to the drug store and buy a home pregnancy test. These usually run between $10­–20 and are very accurate as long as you take the test properly. Make sure to read those instructions carefully.
  2. Call your heath care provider or go to a no- or low-cost clinic (find a clinic in your ‘hood) and they’ll do a test there. No blood testing is needed, just the ol’ pee-in-a-cup.

Now, if you think you may be pregnant and you don’t want to be, you can use emergency contraception (EC) as long as it has been fewer than five days since “the sex.” There are a few different options for EC, and the pill forms are available at your pharmacy. Per the Guttmacher Institute’s Emergency Contraception State Policies in Brief as of January 1, 2013, “. . .adults may purchase all . . . methods without a prescription, and individuals who are at least 17 years old may purchase . . . Plan B One-Step—without a prescription. Ella . . . is only available by prescription.”

EC works by preventing your body from releasing an egg, which is why it’s so important that they are taken as soon as possible. Emergency contraception pills are safe and easy to use, so they are a great option if you are within the 5-day timeline. It will not cause an abortion if you are already pregnant. In the case that you do get pregnant and are not ready to be a parent, you should make an appointment with your health care provider as soon as possible. Together, you can discuss all your options including adoption and abortion and find a plan that’s right for you.

And lastly, if you discover you are pregnant and want to continue the pregnancy, there are some key next steps that will get you on the right track. First you’ll want to visit your health care provider and start taking prenatal vitamins and other mom-to-be essentials. This first appointment will also be the perfect time to ask questions, get information and tips and learn about what to expect from your body. When you’re armed with the right knowledge, you can do everything your power to ensure a smooth pregnancy.