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Frequently Asked Questions on Teen Pregnancy

From How Pregnancy Happens to What it Feels Like to Be Pregnant

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Answers to your most frequently asked questions about pregnancy.

How Does Pregnancy Happen?

Sexual intercourse between a guy and a girl is necessary for pregnancy to occur. Sexual intercourse means genital penetration. Genital to genital contact without intercourse could result in pregnancy but this is unusual. Proper use of birth control can dramatically reduce the chances that sexual intercourse will lead to pregnancy but no form of birth control is 100% guaranteed. Abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy.

What Can Cause Pregnancy? What Can Not?

The following activities carry the highest risk of pregnancy:
  • intercourse, with or without protection
  • contact between the female genital area and sperm or pre-ejaculatory fluid
  • anal sex if any sperm makes contact with female genital area
The following activities will not ever cause pregnancy:
  • abstinence
  • holding hands
  • dancing
  • kissing
  • heavy petting or making out with clothing on
  • making out in a hot tub or swimming pool
  • oral sex
  • touching of genitals with hands
  • homosexual relations

Does Using Birth Control Mean You’re Safe?

Other than abstinence, no form of birth control is 100% effective. Most birth control options rely heavily on proper use. When used incorrectly they are much less effective.

What Is the Best Type of Birth Control?

The best way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex. However, if you are sexually active there are very effective types of birth control on the market. Whichever birth control method you use you should always use a condom to protect against sexually transmitted infections. Condoms alone will offer protection against pregnancy but it doesn't hurt to use a back up method in case the condom breaks.

Intrauterine devices (IUD), Norplant and Depo-Provera are the most reliable methods of birth control with the lowest failure rates, but these forms of birth control still carry a risk. The Pill, condoms, diaphragms, and sponges are also good choices but they depend on proper use. If any of these methods are used incorrectly the failure rate increases and pregnancy is more likely to occur. Condoms can break or slip and if this happens the risk of pregnancy is the same as if you had used nothing at all. Natural planning methods are not very effective and are also subject to user error.

The only birth control guaranteed to work is not having sex. If you are not prepared to deal with an unplanned pregnancy abstinence is your only option.

Can I Get Pregnant Making Out in My Underwear?

You can't get pregnant from making out with your clothes on. It is possible to get pregnant from making out while naked but the chances of this happening are highly unlikely. In order for pregnancy to occur there must be contact between the female genital area and sperm and contact without penetration is unlikely to result in pregnancy. However, any contact between the female genital area and sperm can, in theory, result in pregnancy and should be handled with caution.

Can I Get Pregnant from Oral Sex?

No, you can't get pregnant from giving or receiving oral sex.

Can I Get Pregnant Without Penetration?

Yes, in theory if female genitals make contact with sperm pregnancy could occur. However, the risk of unwanted pregnancy under these circumstances is small. A greater concern in this matter should be contracting a sexually transmitted infection or HIV.

Can Sperm Travel Through Water and Make Me Pregnant?

No, sperm can't travel through the water in a pool or hot tub and make you pregnant.

Can Sperm Make Me Pregnant By Getting on My Privates?

Yes, in theory it is possible for any contact between a female's genital area and sperm to result in pregnancy. It is unlikely, but it can happen.

Is There Anything I Can Do After Sex to Stop a Pregnancy?

The morning after pill, also called emergency contraception, is your only option for preventing pregnancy after sex. It must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse to be effective. The morning after pill is available by prescription or from health clinics and doctors.

The morning after pill is given in two doses. It consists of the same hormones that are in birth control pills, only in a much higher concentration. The pills are taken 12 hours apart and should be taken as soon as possible. The morning after pill works to stop a pregnancy from developing but it is not 100% effective and should not be used as your primary form of birth control.

How Do I Get the Morning After Pill?

To get the morning after pill go to a hospital, clinic or doctor's office and tell them that you need emergency contraception. They will ask you a series of questions to determine if the morning after pill is right for you. They will probably do a pregnancy test to ensure that you are not already pregnant. You can't take the morning after pill if you are already pregnant.

If you are a good candidate for the treatment you will be given the necessary pills. If it is too late for this option you can ask the doctor about your other choices. Availability of emergency contraception for teens in your area may be limited by law or by parental consent. To find out about availability in your area call your local crisis line or pregnancy hotline.

What Are the Side Effects of the Morning After Pill?

Possible short term side effects of emergency contraception include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • breast tenderness
  • blood clotting
In rare cases where pregnancy has already occurred before the pills are taken the cycle may cause an ectopic pregnancy which can be life threatening. The long term effects of the morning after pill are thought to be no different than those associated with regular use of birth control pills.

What Are the Early Signs of Pregnancy?

The most common signs of pregnancy are:
  • missed or unusually short periods
  • unusually thick vaginal discharge that is not foul smelling
  • thickening of the waist without significant weight gain
  • bloating or holding of water that is unusual for your menstrual cycle
  • headaches or nausea unrelated to illness
  • sudden vomiting spells that come on quickly and go away quickly, and/or unrelenting waves of vomiting unrelated to illness
  • very sore or painfully tender breasts
  • strong reactions to certain smells
  • new food cravings or aversions
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