If you have had sexual intercourse and you’ve missed your period, especially if your breasts are tender or swollen or you feel tired or sick to your stomach, you may be pregnant. If you think you might be pregnant, you need to get a pregnancy test right away to find out for sure. You can arrange an appointment to see your health care provider, or buy a home pregnancy test at a drugstore, supermarket, or online (they cost anywhere from $10 to $30). Home pregnancy tests are fairly accurate if you follow instructions carefully, but you should have a test done at a health clinic to confirm your results. Many Planned Parenthood and health department clinics provide pregnancy testing for free or at reduced cost.
If you experience any of the following, you should call your provider or clinic, or go to a hospital emergency room right away. These may be signs of a problem such as a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy or miscarriage:
• Sudden, intense pain, persistent pain or cramping in the lower abdomen, especially if it’s on one side
• Irregular bleeding or spotting with abdominal pain, especially after a light or late period
• Fainting or dizziness that lasts more than a few seconds
• Sudden heavy bleeding with clots or clumps of tissue after a late period
• Abdominal pain and a fever
When you find out you are pregnant, you essentially have three options to consider: to continue the pregnancy and keep the baby, to have the baby and make an adoption plan, or to have an abortion. This is a big decision; take your time and talk with your partner, your family and other trusted advisers.
Even if you just thought you might be pregnant when you didn’t intend to be and found out you were not, it can be a life-changing experience. Take time to consider what you can do to avoid this situation in the future. The most effective method of pregnancy prevention is abstaining from vaginal intercourse. Many people practice abstinence for some period of time, even after they have had sex, and surveys show that most teens in the U.S., including those who have had intercourse, think teens should wait to have sex until they’re older. But, if you do choose to be sexually active, you need to use contraception each and every time. Sexually active couples who don’t use contraceptives during intercourse have an 85-90% chance of becoming pregnant over the course of a year.
Protect Yourself. For those who are sexually active, the only protection against BOTH pregnancy and STDs, including HIV, are condoms. Not only does the consistent and correct use of condoms offer protection against pregnancy, it can also reduce the risk for many other STDs including HIV. To be doubly safe, it is recommended to use condoms with another contraceptive method, such as oral contraceptives.
For more about options for preventing pregnancy and STD check out What Works/What Doesn’t.
Remember, it’s all about timing: preventing pregnancy now can help you be the best parent you can be later in life, when you’re emotionally and financially ready. Most teen moms say they love their children but wish they’d waited 10 years. Babies are wonderful. They give a lot of love back, but they depend on you for everything. Having a baby often leads to a lot of problems in a relationship — it usually won’t strengthen a relationship or necessarily lead to marriage. In fact, 8 out of 10 fathers never marry the teen mothers of their babies. Raising a child is hard. Raising a child alone is even harder. Being a teenager is a great time for growing up, getting an education, meeting new people and having fun — pregnancy and parenthood make that all very hard to do.