There is always a possibility of pregnancy when you have sex even if you use contraception. Make sure you and your partner know have talked about it.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency Hormonal Contraception is free. It must be taken up to 72 hours after sex to be effective.

Where to get Contraception



Pregnancy is a real possibility if a male and a female have vaginal sex and do not use contraception. There are lots of rumours about when and where you or your partner can get pregnant. Don’t believe everything you hear. The truth is that you or your partner can get pregnant:

  • if it’s the first time you're having sex
  • at any time of the month, including during the female's period
  • if the female has had unprotected sex with previous male partners and not become pregnant
  • if the male pulls his penis out before he comes (ejaculates)
  • if the female hasn't started her periods
  • no matter what position you have sex in, including standing up
  • even if the female stands up, washes or jumps up and down immediately after sex
  • if you do or don’t have an orgasm
  • if the male says he’ll be careful (pre-cum can often have sperm in it and a male can't stop his penis from leaking this as soon as he has an erection; this can happen even if he pulls out before he comes).

Pregnancy can also happen if your usual contraception hasn’t worked, for example, if the female is on the Pill but has vomited, had diarrhoea or is taking a medication which interferes with the pill's effectiveness. Contraception only works if it's used correctly and consistently.

It is possible for a female to get pregnant without having sexual intercourse (penetration), if there is a chance of sperm getting into the vagina. For example, a female can get pregnant if there is sperm on her fingers and she puts them into her vagina.

However, the chances of becoming pregnant in this way are very small because sperm can only live for a very short period of time when outside of the human body (a few minutes if left to dry out, or a few hours if wet).

It would also be possible for pregnancy to happen if the male ejaculates close to the entrance of the vagina, or if his erect penis comes into contact with his partner's body near the vagina.

Emergency contraception
Some people may be pleased at the thought of being pregnant, but if a female wants to avoid pregnancy she can use emergency contraception after having unprotected sex. Although it can reduce the chances of pregnancy in an emergency, it's not an ideal replacement for regular contraception.

There are two types:

  • Emergency hormonal contraception (sometimes called the Morning After Pill).
  • The IUD (intrauterine device, sometimes called copper coil).

Where can I get it?
There are two types of emergency hormonal contraception.
  • Levonelle is widely available for free from GPs, most pharmacies, Integrated Contraceptive and Sexual Health Clinics (iCaSH), NHS Walk-In Centres and some hospital Accident and Emergency areas. It can be taken up to 72 hours/3 days after unprotected sex but its effectiveness drops significantly throughout that time frame.

    Most pharmacies will also sell the Levonelle morning after pill if you're aged 16 or over. It can cost up to £26. Check first to see if it's available for free.

    • EllaOne is also free but can only be obtained with a prescription, so requires a visit to the GP or iCaSH. It can be taken up to 120 hours/5 days after unprotected sex and remains over 99% effective.

      You can get the free emergency contraceptive pill from GPs, pharmacies,  etc – even if you’re under 16.

      IUD (Copper Coil) is available at iCaSH clinics and some GP surgeries.

    For more information on the options, see the 'Emergency Contraception' page on this website or look at this NHS webpage

    Pregnancy testing
    A pregnancy test detects the presence of the pregnancy hormone in a female's body and is the only way to know for sure whether she is pregnant.

    When to take a pregnancy test
    The female may suspect that she is pregnant because of certain symptoms, such as enlarged or tingling breasts, nausea (feeling sick), dizziness, a metallic taste in the mouth or a feeling that her period is about to start. However, not every woman has these symptoms.

    Most home pregnancy tests can be carried out on or after the day the female's next period is due. If she doesn't know when her next period is due, she should wait to do the test until at least 21 days after she last had unprotected sex. If taken too soon she could get a false negative result.

    The female should always take a pregnancy test if she thinks she might be pregnant. If there is unexplained pain in the abdomen/ lower belly area it is a good idea to do a test - even if contraception seems to have been used correctly. This is because very occasionally a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This is called an ectopic pregnancy and it can be dangerous if it is not closely monitored and managed carefully.

    The female can take a pregnancy test if she is using hormonal contraception. The result will still be reliable. If it's positive, this means that she is pregnant.

    What’s a test like?
    Most tests come in a small box that contains one or two long sticks. The female should pee on the stick and the result appears on the stick after a few minutes. Some tests may involve peeing into a pot and then a testing strip is dipped into the pee. All tests are slightly different, so always read and follow the instructions carefully.

    Where can i get a pregnancy test?
    You can buy pregnancy testing kits from lots of places, such as supermarkets and pharmacies. However the testing strips available in discount shops are usually just as reliable and can cost much less.

    Some anti-abortion organisations offer free pregnancy testing, but may push a female to continue with a pregnancy even if they are not sure they want to. Try to get advice, or a test, from an organisation that is neutral and won't apply any pressure either way.

    Negative test results
    If the female gets a negative (not pregnant) result from the pregnancy test but still think she could be pregnant, she should wait another three days then take another test. It could be that she has taken the test too early. The female should speak to her GP if she gets a negative result after a second test but her period hasn't arrived.

    If you're not pregnant and don't want to be, now is a good time to get contraception. Have look on the contraception pages on this website or look at the NHS Choices link further up this page.

    Positive test results - making a choice
    If the test is positive, the female is pregnant and there is a decision to be made. The female could continue with the pregnancy and either become a parent or place the child for adoption.

    Alternatively she could have an abortion/termination, which is legal in Great Britain even if she is under 16. An abortion is a medical process for ending a pregnancy. As soon as a female finds out that she is pregnant she may choose to talk to someone, perhaps her GP or an iCaSH nurse. If she decides to have an abortion, it's safer to do it as early as possible. Most abortions are carried out before 13 weeks of pregnancy.

    If you are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and are considering an abortion it is a good idea to act quickly in order to request an appointment. If you change your mind at a later date you can always cancel the appointment. There are two options for referral:
    - Phone the BPAS phone line (open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) on 03457 30 40 30  to discuss your options and self refer yourself. (Not available in East Norfolk)
    - Visit your GP or local iCaSH clinic to discuss your options and they will make a referral for you (available everywhere)
    If you decide to continue with the pregnancy,  you will need to start antenatal (pregnancy) care. Talk to your GP.

    Adoption is another choice that some people make. Again, talk to your GP.

    Even if you think you know what you want to do, it's a good idea to talk things through with people you trust - your partner, friends, family, parents or carers. But remember that although other people might have their own ideas about the situation, the decision that feels right for you is best one to go with. You can learn more about your options by calling the following organisations:

    fpa: 0845 122 8690.
    bpas (British Pregnancy Advisory Service): 0845 730 4030.
    Brook Advisory Service (for under-25s): 0808 802 1234.
    BAAF (British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering): 020 7421 2600.

    Contact details for iCaSH clinics are on 'The Facts' page

    All these services, including iCaSH clinics, are confidential, so they won’t tell your parents even if you are under 16. They'll encourage you to talk to your parents, but they won’t force you.