Frequently Asked Questions
What you need to know: sperm can’t climb, jump, or crawl through the fabric of your underwear. For there to be a risk of pregnancy, the sperm needs to come into direct contact with the vulva, either from the penis itself (through penetration or ejaculation on the vulva) or from immediate contact with something (like a hand or item) that has sperm on it.
If unprotected sex has happened, there’s a risk of pregnancy. Yes, even if you’re menstruating! You probably know that you’re most likely to get pregnant around the time you’re ovulating, so roughly 14 days before your period. But what you might not know is that sperm can survive in the uterus for up to 5 days, and that the timing of ovulation can change by a few days. In other words, there’s no such thing as a “safe” day where you can be absolutely sure you’re not going to get pregnant if you don’t use contraception.
Don’t stress about it just yet! 😊 Pregnancy symptoms don’t start right away. Fatigue and nausea can be caused by other things too. However, you can ask yourself a few questions: do you know where you are in your menstrual cycle? When was your last period? Is your period late? If it is, you can take a pregnancy test. It’s the only reliable way to know whether you’re pregnant or not.
The Pill is an effective birth control method. If your partner takes it around the same time every day, without forgetting, the risk of pregnancy is very low. However, the risk of pregnancy goes up if they forget to take it, take it late, or have been sick. If that’s the case, you could consider using an emergency contraceptive (morning-after pill or Plan B), which can lower the risk of pregnancy up to five days after unprotected vaginal sex.
To put your mind at ease, talk about your worries with your partner and discuss ways you can prevent pregnancy next time. You can both learn about how the menstrual cycle and about how the Pill works so you can understand the precautions to take. You can also use an extra type of protection, like a condom, as a backup.
There’s a risk of pregnancy whenever sperm or pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) makes contact with the vulva or vagina. Sperm can only survive out in the open for a few seconds, but it’s better for you and your partner to avoid touching your genitals right after ejaculation.
Totally normal. Sex is new, and new things often come with stress and anxiety. You’re learning a lot of things at the same time, so it’s normal to have worries.
Even if you know you’re using protection and that it’s a good thing, you might not always get how it’s working with your body. If that’s the case, maybe take the time to learn about the finer details so you understand it better. That way, you’ll feel safer and it won’t seem like pregnancy is being prevented magically!
It also takes some time to feel confident after you start having sex, and that includes feeling confident in your contraceptive. It takes time to get used to it. But seeing over and over again that the contraceptive is working can help sex feel less risky.
Also, dealing with your worries alone can make you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders! However, preventing pregnancy is a shared responsibility between you and your partner. Talking to your partner might help put your mind at ease. It can also be a chance to ask each other questions, reassure each other, and learn together.
It’s rare, but possible. If you’re bleeding while you’re pregnant, it’s not your period: it’s called spotting, which is bleeding that looks like a period but is generally lighter. It can be deceiving. If you’re concerned, you can talk to your doctor about it or take a pregnancy test.
Yes, because it can contain sperm. Pre-ejaculate, or pre-cum, is the small amount of clear liquid that comes out of the penis when a person is aroused. This means that as soon as the penis enters the vagina, there’s a risk of pregnancy, even if ejaculation doesn’t happen. That’s why pulling out (sometimes called ‘coitus interruptus’) is not an effective way to prevent pregnancy. It’s also why just rubbing the penis against the vulva also carries a risk of pregnancy.
Can sperm survive:
in the air?
Sperm die very quickly when they come in contact with air, only a few seconds. They also can’t climb, jump, or crawl through fabric.
in the water?
Sperm die almost instantly when they come into contact with the water. That said, water isn’t a form of birth control! If penetration happens in the water and you don’t use protection, there’s still a risk of pregnancy.
if I wash my hands?
Sperm can’t survive hand-washing, even if you don’t use soap. They die pretty much as soon as they come into contact with water.
if I wipe off the surface?
Sperm can’t survive on a surface that’s been wiped off or cleaned with a sponge.
in the uterus?
Sperm can survive for 3 to 5 days in the uterus.
It’s possible. So if penetration has happened, there’s a chance of unwanted pregnancy, even if there was no ejaculation.