Our Health professionals would be able to help but if your question is urgent please call help line to make an appointment for sexual health screening or visit one of our walk in clinic for advice on contraception.

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Frequently asked questions:

  • Q: How does a woman become pregnant?
  •   back to the top A: A woman usually becomes pregnant after having sexual intercourse. This happens when sperm is released from a male's penis into a female's vagina.
  • Q: How can I prevent pregnancy?
  •   A: If you don't want to become pregnant, you will need to use contraception. There are lots of different types available. Such as the contraceptive pill, the condom, the implant, Intrauterine device and the injection. To fi nd out more about how these and other contraceptive methods work, please visit a contraceptive clinic.
  • Q: Is there a "safe time" to have sexual intercourse?
  •   A: No there are times when women are more likely to get pregnant, such as at ovulation (the release of an egg). This usually happens in the middle of a woman's menstrual cycle, but we can't be sure exactly when. Sperm can live inside the vagina for up to one week after sex so there is no safe time.
  • Q: What are the chances of becoming pregnant from a single act of sex?
  •   A: The likelihood of becoming pregnant from a single act of unprotected sex (for example, from a one night stand) varies from person to person, and also depends on the stage of a woman's menstrual cycle. The probability is highest around the time of ovulation (when the egg is released), when, on average, up to one third of women will become pregnant from having sex once.
  • Q: If a man pulls his penis out before he comes or doesn't put it in all the way, can a woman still get pregnant?
  •   A: Unfortunately even if a man doesn't insert his penis all the way, or withdraws his penis before ejaculation, a woman can still become pregnant. This is because 'pre-come' (the lubricating fl uid that leaks out of a man's penis before and during sex) can contain sperm. If this fl uid gets in or around a woman's vagina, it can fi nd its way inside, and she can become pregnant.
  • Q: Can a woman become pregnant as a result of anal sex?
  •   A: A woman cannot become pregnant as a result of anal sex directly, although if any sperm leaks from the anus and enters the vagina, pregnancy could occur. Anal sex is therefore not the best way of avoiding pregnancy on a long term basis. It is better to use regular contraception such as the birth control pill or condoms. There is a higher risk of a sexually transmitted infection with anal sex, so condoms should always be used.
  • Q: Can a woman become pregnant through oral sex if she swallows sperm?
  •   back to the top A: No, a woman cannot become pregnant as a result of oral sex even if she swallows. A woman can only become pregnant if sperm get inside her vagina.
  • Q: Are there any ways to tell if you are pregnant without using a pregnancy test?
  •   A: The first sign of pregnancy is usually the absence of a period. Other symptoms of pregnancy can include tender breasts, nausea and tiredness but not everybody experiences these. If you suspect you are pregnant you should take a pregnancy test. This can be done at a clinic, or you can buy a home testing kit from most major supermarkets and pharmacies. A pregnancy test can't tell you straight away if you are pregnant, you usually have to wait at least 2 weeks after sex.
  • Q: How long should I wait before carrying out a pregnancy test?
  •   A: It depends on the type of test you buy. Most tests recommend testing on the day your period is due, although you can buy some that can detect the pregnancy hormone in your urine up to four or fi ve days before this. Make sure you read the instructions thoroughly to fi nd out how long you should wait. If you are not sure when your period is due, the best idea is to wait for at least 10 days after having had unprotected sex before testing (although it is worth remembering that it can take up to nineteen days or more to show a positive result). If you get a negative result but your period still doesn't arrive, you should test again at three-day intervals, until your period starts or you get a positive result. The sooner you fi nd out you are pregnant, the sooner you can start thinking about what to do next.
  • Q: The test result was negative, but my period still hasn't arrived. Could I still be pregnant?
  •   A: If you have tested too soon (see above), then yes, you might still be pregnant. However if you are sure you haven't tested too soon, and then it may well be stress that has delayed your period. Worrying about pregnancy (or anything else) can drive your stress hormones up, and this can in turn interfere with your menstrual cycle. If you have lost or gained a lot of weight recently, have undertaken lots of vigorous exercise or you have irregular periods generally, these could also be the reason.
  • Q: I'm pregnant! What can I do
  •   back to the top A: If you were planning to get pregnant, then fi nding out you're expecting a baby can be a wonderful surprise. However, if you weren't, it is more likely to be a big shock. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and you do have more than one option. The fi rst thing you should do is go to your doctor or your local sexual health or contraceptive clinic. They will be able to discuss your options with you and help you to decide what to do next. Whether you decide to keep the baby, put it up for adoption or have an abortion (in places where it's legal), it's essential that you do what's right for you and don't feel pressurized into making a decision.