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Info For Teens

How Pregnancy Happens

Taking a pregnancy test is the only way you'll know for sure if you're pregnant. You can take a home pregnancy test or go to a health center for testing. A pregnancy test can detect pregnancy after a missed period ó some can even detect it a few days before a missed period.

You may have lots of questions about how pregnancy happens and how you can find out if youíre pregnant. We're here to help.

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    What Exactly Causes Pregnancy?

    Pregnancy can happen when semen gets in the vagina or on the vulva. Here are some examples of things that do NOT cause pregnancy:

    • kissing
    • masturbation
    • body rubbing
    • oral sex
    • anal sex

    These things won't cause pregnancy ó unless sperm comes into contact with the vagina or vulva.

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    Can Pre-ejaculate Cause Pregnancy?

    Pre-ejaculate is the liquid that oozes out of the penis during sexual excitement before ejaculation, when semen spurts out. Itís also called ďpre-cum.Ē  Pre-ejaculate usually does not contain sperm, but in some men a very small amount of sperm may be found in their pre-ejaculate. So the chance of getting pregnant from pre-ejaculate is much less than the chance of getting pregnant from semen, but there's still a very small chance.

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    How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant After Having Sex?

    Pregnancy doesn't start the moment that partners have intercourse. It can take up to six days for the sperm and egg to join and form a fertilized egg. Then, it takes six to 10 days for the fertilized egg to completely implant itself in the lining of the uterus. Pregnancy begins during implantation when the hormone needed to support pregnancy is released. That hormone is called the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG). Pregnancy tests work by detecting it.

    If you're concerned about unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex, you may want to consider the morning-after pill, also known as emergency contraception (EC). EC is effective if started within 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. If started within 72 hours, EC can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent. So, the sooner you start it, the better.

    Plan B One Step is a brand of EC that's available at drug stores, over the counter (without a prescription), for anyone regardless of age. Other brands like Next Choice and My Way are available without prescription for women over 17. Teens under 17 can still get these brands of EC with a prescription. The best way you can protect yourself is to get EC before an accident happens, and keep it on hand in case you need it. That way, you won't waste time after unprotected intercourse waiting to get a prescription or get to a drug store.

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    Can I Get Pregnant if His Penis Gets Near My Vagina but Not in It?

    Pregnancy can happen when sperm gets in the vagina or on the vulva. The most likely way to become pregnant is through unprotected vaginal intercourse.

    However, if partners engage in body rubbing with their clothes off, there is a chance that sperm may come into contact with the vulva or vagina ó which can cause pregnancy, even if partners don't actually have vaginal intercourse.

    If partners are concerned about the risk of pregnancy from body rubbing, they may want to consider using condoms or another method of birth control. Condoms also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections that can be spread in ejaculate and pre-ejaculate.

    If partners have reached the point where they may start having vaginal intercourse, they should talk about what kind of birth control they want to prepare themselves with before they start having intercourse.

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    If I Miss My Period, Does That Mean Iím Pregnant?

    Missing your period is the biggest sign that you might be pregnant. If you missed your period, and you had unprotected sex, itís a good idea to take a pregnancy test to see if youíre pregnant.

    While a missed period is a symptom of pregnancy, there are many other reasons why you might miss your period ó such as stress, illness, or not eating enough. But if you've had unprotected vaginal intercourse and you've missed your period, a pregnancy test may be the wisest choice you can make.

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    Can I Get Pregnant Only at Certain Times of the Month?

    You can get pregnant anytime you have unprotected vaginal intercourse.

    Any woman who has unprotected vaginal intercourse runs the risk of becoming pregnant, whether it's her first time having sex or the 100th time. Itís even possible to become pregnant before ever having a period. Pregnancy can happen when sperm gets in the vagina or on the vulva. Having sex without using a latex or female condom also puts you at risk for sexually transmitted infections.

    People who have vaginal intercourse need to make choices about birth control and preventing STDs.

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    How Do I Take a Pregnancy Test?

    If you think you might be pregnant, the first thing you need to do is find out for sure, either by going to a health clinic for testing or by taking a home pregnancy test. You can contact your local Planned Parenthood health center to schedule an appointment for a pregnancy test.

    Home pregnancy tests are available at most drug stores. They usually cost about $8Ė$15 in the U.S. Pregnancy tests are effective early ó as soon as a few days after a missed period.

    Women who take home pregnancy tests often go to health centers to have the results confirmed by a health care provider. Also, if the test is positive and you're pregnant, the provider can offer information about your pregnancy options.

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    How Can I Avoid Pregnancy?

    The best way to avoid pregnancy is by being abstinent ó not having sex. Using birth control consistently and correctly is the best way a sexually active woman can avoid pregnancy.  There are many safe, effective birth control options.

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    Should I Take Emergency Contraception (The "Morning-After" Pill)?

    If you've had unprotected vaginal sex within the past five days, and you donít want to be pregnant, you may want to take emergency contraception (EC). EC, also known as the ďmorning-after" pill, can reduce the risk of pregnancy if started within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected vaginal intercourse. The sooner it's taken, the better. If started within 72 hours of unprotected sex, EC can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent.

    Women over 17 can buy EC at a drugstore without a prescription ó Plan B, One Step, or Next Choice.  Women under 17 need to get a prescription.  For more information on emergency contraception, contact your local Planned Parenthood health center.

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