Unprotected Sex —Can I get pregnant?

Updated on April 28, 2016
WryLilt profile image

Susannah Birch is a certified birth doula, journalist, and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website.

So, you had sex...

Many teenagers and even older people make mistakes when it comes to rushing into a relationship or into bed with someone. Of course in the heat of the moment it's entirely possible to forget about protection.

However if you don't use protection, it's very easy to fall pregnant or contract a disease or infection. The following information is written for all the people who've had unprotected intercourse and want to know what the chances are of pregnancy.

Most questions are answered below - from the most fertile time for a woman to symptoms of pregnancy. Remember next time though - use protection!


Facts you need to know

  • No matter in what situation you have penetrative sex or contact between male and female genitals it is possible to fall pregnant - including the first time, drunk or at any time of your monthly cycle.
  • There is approximately a 20% chance of a fertile woman falling pregnant each month.
  • A man does not have to orgasm for a woman to fall pregnant.
  • Even if the sexual contact lasted only a few seconds there is a small chance of pregnancy.
  • Using the withdrawal method is not a method of birth control. Pre-ejaculate can still cause you to fall pregnant.
  • There are millions of sperm in each male ejaculation meaning there are millions of tiny chances of you falling pregnant.

That's the general information. For more specifics about whether you might be pregnant and what to look for... read on.


The chance of knowing you are pregnant without taking a pregnancy test is as high as the chance of knowing you will win the lottery.

Ways you can fall pregnant.

The following is a list of ways that you have a reasonable chance of falling pregnant:

  • Unprotected penetrative sex (with or without orgasm).
  • Any contact between fresh sperm and the vagina.
  • When a condom breaks.
  • Using the withdrawal method.
  • In any position - including missionary, doggy style and standing up.
  • When you have missed a birth control pill or taken them incorrectly (always follow the instructions.)

The following is a list of ways that you have a small or close to no chance of falling pregnant: (remember, it is still possible to fall pregnant these ways.)

  • Right before or during your period.
  • Using a condom (.01% chance).
  • While on the birth control pill (.01% chance).
  • While using a condom and birth control pills (very rare but does occasionally happen.)
  • While using any form of birth control such as depo needle.

You cannot fall pregnant from:

  • Oral sex (with no direct genital to genital contact.)
  • Using an item (such as a towel) that a man has used - sperm dies very fast when not in a warm, moist environment.


Most birth control is 99.9% effective (when taken correctly) which means that if 1000 women have sex for one year, one may fall pregnant.

If you had unprotected sex in the last 48 hours...

There is a special morning after pill (also known as the "Plan B" pill) that you can take within the first 48 hours after having unprotected sex. The sooner you have it, the more chance that you won't have an unwanted pregnancy.

It works by causing an early abortion if you are pregnant. It is usually more expensive than birth control tablets that are taken before sex.



  • A woman is most fertile 7-14 days after her period ends - this is called ovulation.
  • A woman is least fertile just before her period begins.
  • Sperm can live for 5-7 days inside the vagina.
  • Every woman ovulates at different times and has a different length cycle. This means that even if you have sex when you are least fertile, chances are you may still fall pregnant.


All about pregnancy tests

There is only one way to conclusively tell if you are pregnant. That is to take a pregnancy test (or have your doctor perform a pregnancy test.)

Most pregnancy tests can be taken by two weeks after having sexual intercourse.

Pregnancy tests work by monitoring the HCG in your body. This is a pregnancy hormone that is only present when you are pregnant. For this reason, if you tested positive, it's fairly certain you are pregnant. If you tested negative, you may still be pregnant if you tested too early or at the wrong time of day - because the concentration of HCG increases slowly over the pregnancy.

Most tests work in such a way that either one or two lines or dots should appear. The first line is a control to make sure the test is working and the second line or dot indicates pregnancy.

If you are testing early it's advisable to take the test first thing in the morning when levels of HCG in the urine are more concentrated. You can take the test at any time of day but in early pregnancy this may result in a false negative.


Symptoms of Pregnancy

If think you may be pregnant, you may soon be experiencing some pregnancy symptoms. However, most pregnancy symptoms don't start till between 3-9 weeks after you fall pregnant and some women never experience symptoms at all.

Symptoms can include:

  • A missed period.
  • Light spotting.
  • Nausea.
  • Swollen, veiny or tender breasts.
  • A metallic taste in the mouth.
  • Weight gain.
  • Extreme tiredness.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Craving or aversion to food.

Remember though: Nearly all these symptoms can also be linked to your menstrual cycle.


Why ignoring it isn't an option

If you decide that not getting a pregnancy test will make the problem go away, think again.

  • The further you are into the pregnancy the more chance that untreated complications (such as miscarriage or pregnancy related symptoms) can result in serious results for the mother.
  • If you don't start taking pregnancy vitamins and eat correctly, chances are you could hurt the baby or the baby could have a higher chance of a disability such as spina bifida.
  • The earlier you see a doctor the better - since if some pregnancy complications aren't diagnosed and treated early, both mother and baby may be at risk.
  • If you've contracted an STD or STI from the unprotected sex, chances are that you need treatment which may harm the baby - and you if not looked after correctly. 


What to do if you are pregnant

You need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will help you calculate the date of conception as well as when the baby is due based on your last period or by checking the baby's size with an ultrasound.

You need to talk to a parent or trusted friend. You'll soon be showing a bump and you'll also need to make sure you take the right things, avoid the bad things and eat right.


Did you find this helpful?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    Show All Categories