What to do if you have unprotected sex and may be or are pregnant

If you’ve found yourself unexpectedly pregnant or suspect you might be pregnant, there are some steps you can take to first confirm, and then to make some decisions for yourself.

Nobody has to know what you choose to do – it is your choice and can be private. If you’re not sure, please find a sexual health clinic with staff who can help guide you through the process without judgement.

Emergency contraception

First, if it’s within 24-72 hours, you can get emergency contraception from a pharmacy. You do need to ask the pharmacist for emergency contraception.

You can also use regular ‘the pill’ pills from a friend (instructions on using the regular oral contraceptive pill for emergency contraception without a doctor or pharmacist here).

Some countries won’t have this/you may not feel comfortable doing this, so it can pay to have a stash of contraceptives for emergency use, should you or a friend need them in a pinch.

Pregnancy test

You won’t know if you are pregnant usually for about 4-6 weeks, or until your period is due and does not come. Tests will start to show up usually 2-4 weeks in as the hormone levels change, but usually you cannot tell by how you feel. Some people know, but usually, we do not.

Emergency contraceptives do not work after 72 hours. You can buy a test usually inexpensively in most places from a pharmacy or supermarket, or online. You need to make sure you are or are not pregnant before undergoing any further procedures.

Medical abortions (taking pills at home)

Medical abortions can be done by taking some pills that cause you to ‘get your period’ and with it, the cells that would make up – eventually – a foetus.

You will need to see a doctor for the medical abortion pills and be under 10 or 12 weeks pregnant. If you live in a country where abortions are illegal or hard to come by, contact Women on Waves – they are doctors who can send you the pills discreetly in the mail.

Surgical abortions (in a clinic or hospital)

Surgical abortions are available in many countries safely and inexpensively, but usually won’t be done after 12 weeks without a medical reason.

Having the baby

If you decide to have the baby, please see your doctor, a friend or counsellor for support.

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