August 4, 2008

Q&A: Pregnancy Fears, What Should I Do?

Q&A from a reader concerned about a possible pregnancy who is afraid to go to the doctor.

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Question: I’m not using any contraceptives, and recently my boyfriend and I had unprotected sex and he ejaculated inside me. The following day I took emergency contraceptives. I was supposed to get my period a few weeks later, but I didn’t. So then I bought a home pregnancy test and it came out positive, but I don’t believe that I’m pregnant. It’s been yet another month and I still haven’t had my period. I’m not experiencing any symptoms of pregnancy like morning sickness, mood swings or cravings and I’m too scared to go to the doctor. Can you help?

As scared as you may be, I really want to encourage you to check in with a healthcare provider to find out if you are pregnant. Pregnancy tests are usually very accurate, especially when they are taken several weeks after unprotected sex. If you are feeling scared or in shock, please talk to a family member or a friend that you trust, and that is generally pretty responsible and caring of you, so that they can help you. You should also consider talking to your boyfriend about your concerns about the two of you possibly having become pregnant.

If you are pregnant, you will need to learn more about your options and your health. If you choose to carry your pregnancy to term, you will want to learn about prenatal health care, which includes the healthcare visits that you will need from now until when your baby is born, to make sure that you have a healthy pregnancy. You will also have information to learn about special nutrition needs of pregnant women as well as lifestyle behaviors that are relevant to pregnancy, such as those related to smoking, drinking, exercise, sexuality, and even driving as you get further along in your pregnancy.

The book “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Childbirth” is a good resource for information.

If it turns out that the pregnancy test was not accurate, and you are not pregnant, you might consider re-evaluating some of your choices to be sexually active if you are not yet ready to deal with the realities of pregnancy risk. That may mean postponing further sexual activity or it may mean asking your healthcare provider for more information about contraception, such as the birth control pill, condoms, or the birth control shot. You might also talk to your boyfriend about how you’re feeling about sexual activity and pregnancy risk.

Emergency contraception is highly effective at preventing pregnancy – but it isn’t a guarantee against pregnancy. It is about 89% effective when taken within 3 days after unprotected sex, but that means there are still times when it does not prevent pregnancy.

Please don’t assume that just because you took emergency contraception that you cannot be pregnant. You have had unprotected sex, you have not had a period in about two months, and you have had a positive pregnancy test. Talking to someone you can trust and feel safe with, and checking in with a healthcare provider, are good next steps to consider.

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