Can I get pregnant if…
•we have sex before/after/during my period?
•I’m on birth control?
•we didn’t really have sex, but …?
•(your question here)
Getting pregnant depends on egg, sperm, hormones, timing and lots of other factors. Studying conception is difficult even in a lab because the factors are small and hidden deep inside the body.
In addition, the peer counselors who answer the helpline or talk with you at your visit aren’t medical professionals. However, they have a lot of experience with pregnancy questions and have heard the personal stories of many women. Because they’ve heard these stories, they will always say that the only way to know for sure is to take a pregnancy test after enough time has passed.
The timing question (when in your cycle did the incident occur) is tricky because of the assumption that every woman has a 28 day cycle. Some women have shorter or longer cycles, and some women have very irregular periods. Even women who have regular periods may experience some variations due to stress, illness, travel or nothing in particular. Because sperm live for a few days and the body doesn’t exactly issue an ovulation warning, relying on timing means counting on two things: there isn’t an egg ready to be fertilized at the time of the incident, and also that the body won’t release an egg (ovulate) while there are still sperm around. Even people who keep track of when they ovulate can get confused, tricked or just surprised by what the body does.
All birth control fails sometimes. Some kinds are very, very effective, but most of our peer counselors have done a test for someone in that unlucky small percent of women who get pregnant on the pill (or the patch, or whatever). Only abstinence provides complete protection against getting pregnant. Next to that, choosing a birth control method and using it regularly (as directed) is very desirable. Remember that hormonal birth control methods (pill, patch, shots, etc) don’t protect against STDs, and even condoms only provide partial protection. (More about STDs here.)
Outercourse and other sexual activity
Anyone who’s asking about the possibility of pregnancy from outercourse, which includes mutual masturbation and oral sex (or some combination thereof), should probably get a test. Pregnancy is not likely to result from alternate sexual activities (which is why people engage in them, in part), but it is possible (which is why people call or chat to ask about it). It’s hard to estimate the likelihood of a pregnancy occuring this way because in addition to the regular factors, there are questions about sperm survival and transmission. If you’re worried about it, the mechanics are too subtle and individual for someone else to be certain for you.
Getting a pregnancy test can help couples relax and stop stressing out about the possibility of being pregnant. This is helpful since stress can delay a woman’s period or mimic other symptoms of pregnancy. The pregnancy tests offered by PregnantHelp are free and performed in a comfortable, confidential clinic. Call or chat to schedule an appointment.
Blog entry re-posted from 5/12/10.
The information provided here is general in nature. It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention. Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.