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Testing for Pregnancy: Things to Consider After Emergency Contraception

Do Wait Three Weeks After Unprotected Sex

This bit of advice is for women who have no idea when to expect their periods. Perhaps your cycles are irregular. Perhaps you just weren't paying attention. Perhaps you aren't even cycling at all, such as for many women who are breastfeeding. In these situations, the standard "wait until your period is a week late" advice is not helpful. In these situations, if you have not had a period within three weeks after unprotected sex, consider taking a pregnancy test.

Don't Assume That All Bleeding Counts as Your Period

Many women confidently state that they still had periods while pregnant. Although this is not physiologically possible, since a woman is not ovulating or cycling during pregnancy, bleeding from other causes is quite common during pregnancy. Many women have a day or so of light bleeding around the time that implantation occurs. They may assume this is a period, not recognizing that they are, in fact, pregnant.
If your period is lighter or shorter than normal, you might consider taking a pregnancy test. It might just be the effects of the emergency contraception affecting your period; however, you might be pregnant.

Don't Keep Having Unprotected Sex

While this is good advice for anyone who is not trying to get pregnant, it is especially important for a woman to not have unprotected sex during the time after taking an emergency contraceptive and before her period has started. Having unprotected sex again complicates the situation, and it becomes quite unclear when a pregnancy test should be taken.

Do Ask for Help

If you are just not sure what to do, please contact your healthcare provider. If you cannot afford a pregnancy test, consider a family planning clinic or low-income clinic. These clinics may provide free pregnancy testing, depending on your circumstances.
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