Dear Aunt Vadge,
Recently I’ve been feel rather nervous and hopeful. My partner (male) and I ( I’m 20) have been having sexual intercourse for the past months, um well that’s not the problem. The problem is that I keep assuming I’m pregnant because two weeks ago a day after my period was ending (and I had left over residue) he came inside me (I know unprotected sex, bad).
I know it’s still possible for me to still get pregnant. Lately I’ve been having sharp pain/cramps, discharging white thick films, headaches,and my mood’s been unbalanced. I’m nervous because I don’t know if it’s pregnancy or I’m freaking out for no reason,and my body is being weird.
Hey there Killerbunny,
The way your menstrual cycle works is thus:
- Day 1 of your cycle is always the first day of your period. This is standard procedure. It is just the way we count it.
- Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are usually bleeding, heavy at first, tapering off. This can last up to 7 days.
- Day 14 (the mythical number based on a fake 28 day cycle of a mysterious ‘normal’ woman) is therefore the day you ovulate.
- Day 28 (a mythical number) is the last day of your period. Normal cycles can – and are – from about 25 – 35 days long.
Your cycle length usually varies from cycle to cycle, but you are probably aware that most cycles are an average of 28 days – one lunar cycle, a moon month, one full menstrual cycle.
Read more about how to chart your cycle and see when you ovulate (and can get pregnant).
This gets tricky, but read it a few times so you understand:
The interesting part about this is that the time between Day 1 and the day you ovulate can change. You may ovulate later or earlier, which is why if you have short cycles (20-25 days long), it is possible for you to ovulate closer to your period (and therefore get pregnant ‘while you have your period’ or soon after), since the number of days between when you ovulate and when you get your period are ALWAYS the same.
These days vary between 12-16 days, which is why they say Day 14 in a 28 day cycle is when you ovulate. This influences when you get your period – if it’s late, it’s because you ovulated late. Things that can cause you to ovulate late are varied, but could be stress or travel.
This means it’s impossible for you to be pregnant if you have a normal-length cycle of more than 25 days, since you wouldn’t have ovulated until at least Day 12 (so Day 28 – 16 days = Day 12, when you theoretically ovulated in a 28 day cycle). If you cycle is only 25 days, Day 25 – 16 days = Day 9 – still way past the last day of your period.
You need to figure out when you ovulate, and you do this by charting your cycles. Get yourself a free period tracker app on your phone, and on the slim chance you don’t have a smart phone, use the good old fashioned calendar. Mark each day you get your period as Day 1, and then figure out how long your cycles are. Remember that they change from month to month, and you won’t therefore get your period on the same date/approximate date every month.
You also need to establish what your ovulation signs are. This is amazingly helpful in knowing when not to have sex.
There is a thing to do with ‘being bad’ and having unprotected sex. You can either spend the next 20 years of your life cleaning up after yourself, or you can do one of a couple of things.
1. Get onto some form of birth control – there are so many options. Getting pregnant at 20 either means an abortion or a baby, and neither of those things are great at that point. Being careless about your fertility is a mistake. While abortions (for many of us!) aren’t the worst thing in the world, if you can avoid it, you should.
2. Take your menstrual cycle seriously and learn when you ovulate, and learn what to expect from your body. It’s actually really amazing! You will feel more horny when you are ovulating, which is a dangerous time, since we want to do lots of banging, bareback – this is why more one night stands than seems reasonable end up in unwanted pregnancies.
Our few fertile days mean we feel confident, sexy and powerful (lots more sex hormones!). Don’t be ignorant about when – exactly when – you are fertile. It’s actually really cool and interesting, how your body gears you up to get up the duff. (Your vaginal fluids change, your mood can change, your sex drive can change… you may get ovulation pains in one or both ovaries, etc.)
Being moody and getting weird cramps that early on in a pregnancy isn’t really a thing anyway. Most early pregnancies are undetectable, and you won’t start showing any real symptoms until at least you miss your first period. Some women have very small signs, but usually if we think we’re pregnant, every single little thing that happens, we feel, and attribute to a fake pregnancy. It’s just not true.
I have spent so many weeks of my life thinking I was pregnant because I was ignorant about my menstrual cycle – once you know the signs of your fertility, you can use them to your advantage. There are so many books about using fertility awareness as a method of birth control, but that takes more dedication than most of us can tolerate, so at your age, I wouldn’t recommend it – but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the stuff. Just don’t rely on it to not get you pregnant.
Check out the birth control page and see what’s available – there are a lot of (crappy) options. My personal favourite is the non-hormonal IUD, because you get your normal menstrual cycle sans the baby. This isn’t for everyone, so try them all! Find out what you prefer, what your body will tolerate, and have a happy time banging yourself senseless safely. It’s a really nice feeling to have sex and know you won’t get pregnant. It’s worth doing well.
Otherwise, it seems very unlikely, unless you have super short cycles, that you’re pregnant.
You can take an early-detection test too, but I wouldn’t bother. Figure out the other reasons you may be moody and feeling a bit crap.
Write back anytime!