If you’ve had unprotected sex recently, you might be worried about what to do next. From getting tested for STDs to taking a pregnancy test, the good news is that the next steps are very clear. Read below for a timeline of the steps you should take following unprotected sex.
1. 24 hours after
Don’t panic. While it varies woman to woman, it can take as many as three days for the sperm to reach the egg for fertilization. This means that pregnancy does not always occur immediately after sex. So, don’t stress yourself out. It’s also possible that even though you’ve had unprotected sex, the sperm didn’t fertilize, meaning a pregnancy will not occur. It’s best to give yourself time for clearer signs, like a missed period or other early symptoms of pregnancy.
2. 1-2+ weeks after
Get tested for STDs. The earliest you can start testing is one week after unprotected sex. However, depending on the STD, you may have to wait longer. Some STDs do not show up as soon as others. For example, HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis can take up to three months to be detected, while Chlamydia and Gonorrhea will show up after two weeks. If you do have an STD and it goes untreated, it could cause serious harm to your body and makes all your sexual partners vulnerable to contracting the STD as well.
If you need STD testing, contact Her Health to learn more about our free and confidential STD testing services.
3. 2-3 weeks after
Check for early signs of pregnancy. Listed below are symptoms of pregnancy, but know that these symptoms can also be associated with a variety of other things, including your monthly period. Be sure to pay attention to the history of your period, your regular menstrual symptoms, and if you’re experiencing new symptoms.
- Missed period. This may be obvious, but remember there are many health reasons someone could miss their period. But, if you’re extremely regular with your period and it’s been three or four days and you still haven’t had it, this may be a sign.
- During early pregnancy, women face higher levels of hormones, causing them to feel tired.
- This is also due to a higher level of hormones.
- Swollen breasts. Your breasts may feel fuller or heavier due to a higher level of hormones since conception.
4. 2 weeks after ovulation
Visit a pregnancy help center like Her Health for a free pregnancy test. Ovulation occurs about 12 to 16 days before your period is due, but this is not the time to take a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests are most accurate about two weeks after ovulation because that’s the time in the menses cycle when implantation (the fertilized egg sticking to the wall of the uterus) takes place. A good way to remember this is to take a test around the time of your period.
Sometimes, home pregnancy tests can turn false-negatives, meaning that the test shows you’re not pregnant, but you actually could be. To be sure, visit a women’s health clinic, like Her Health, to receive a free and confidential lab-quality pregnancy test. If the test turns out positive, Her Health will also offer a free and confidential ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. Be aware that if you are considering abortion, you must have an ultrasound first to determine what type of procedure is available to you.
5. Before next time
Luckily, there are many ways to prevent unprotected sex from happening again. While there is always the option for condoms and monthly contraceptives, these are not always 100% effective. You may wish to practice abstinence indefinitely so you can avoid STDs and unplanned pregnancies all together. Tell your partner about your intentions and concerns about unprotected sex so they won’t be confused or pressure you into something you’re not comfortable with.