Unprotected Sex —Can I Get Pregnant?

Updated on April 11, 2018
Expert ReviewedDr. Tami Prince, Ob/Gyn
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Susannah Birch is a certified birth doula, journalist, and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website.

The Chances of Getting Pregnant Without Protection

Many teenagers and adults 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 birth control, it's very easy to fall pregnant or contract a disease or infection. The following information is written for anyone who has had unprotected intercourse and wants to know what the chances are of pregnancy.

These questions are answered in this article:

  • Can I get pregnant if the condom breaks?
  • What are the chances of getting pregnant after sex with a condom?
  • What is the most fertile time for a woman?
  • What are the symptoms of pregnancy?
  • How long can sperm live?

And remember, next time use contraception!

What Are the Chances I Am Pregnant?

  • For every fertile woman who has unprotected sex, there is a 20% chance that she will get pregnant. What does this mean? For every 100 women who have unprotected sex for a month, 20 of them get pregnant.
  • Whenever you have penetrative sex or contact between male and female genitals, it is possible to become pregnant.
  • You can get pregnant the first time you have intercourse or at any time of your monthly cycle.
  • A man does not have to orgasm for the woman to fall pregnant.
  • Even if the sexual contact lasted only a few seconds there is a small chance of pregnancy.
  • The withdrawal method is not a method of birth control. Pre-ejaculate fluid (the clear stuff that comes out of a penis before ejaculation) can still make a woman 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.

Can I Get Pregnant After Sex With a Condom?

"A woman can definitely become pregnant after sex even if a condom is used, if the condom outright breaks, has a hole in it, or slips while the partner is exiting the vagina," says Dr. Tami Prince, a gynecologist at the Women's Health and Wellness Center in Marietta, Georgia. "Even the slightest opening in the condom that is invisible to the naked eye can allow for sperm to enter the vagina and migrate towards the Fallopian tubes where fertilization occurs. If a woman happens to be ovulating at the time, the risk of pregnancy is increased."

While the effectiveness of a condom is 85%, that means that out of 100 women who used a condom as birth control for a year, 15 of them may have become pregnant.

When a condom is not put on correctly, an air bubble between the latex and the penis can cause the condom to break or slide off. Be sure that you know how to put a condom on correctly. (For simple, not explicit, directions, watch the video below.)

Also, condoms can break! When this happens, the birth control method failed and you have had unprotected sex, which means you could become pregnant.

Can I Get Pregnant After Sex Without a Condom?

Yes. Intercourse without a condom, or any other contraception, is unprotected sex. Depending on where you are in your cycle, there is about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant from intercourse without a condom.

How to Put a Condom on Correctly (Not Explicit!)

Only Use Water- or Silcone-Based Lubricant With a Latex Condom

Oil-based lubricants destroy latex and will cause the condom to break.

How Likely Is it I Will Get Pregnant?

These are the kinds of sex that give you 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.
  • Sex 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.)

Can I Get Pregnant Any Time of the Month?

"While pregnancy can occur at any time during the menstrual cycle, the risk of pregnancy is greatest within 24 hours of the LH surge, which signals ovulation," says Dr. Prince. "The chance of pregnancy decreases to extremely low levels immediately before a period, as ovulation would have already passed and the uterine lining has already broken down in preparation for menses. Pregnancy may occur immediately after your period depending on the day a woman actually ovulates and the day of intercourse."

While fertile women have a 20% chance of getting pregnant after unprotected intercourse, there are factors that can lead that number to go up or down. Those factors include the woman's age, whether there are any issues with her Fallopian tubes, and her ability to ovulate."

What's the Risk of Pregnancy From Sex With Contraception?

The following is a list of the kinds of sex that give 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 Provera injections.

Can I Get Pregnant After Oral or Anal Sex?

No, you cannot get pregnant from having oral sex with no direct genital-to-genital contact.

Also, you cannot get pregnant after using an item (such as a towel) that a man has used. Sperm dies very quickly when not in a warm, moist environment.

How Long Can Sperm Live After Sex?

Sperm can live for 5-7 days inside the vagina and fallopian tubes, where conception takes place. This means that if a woman has intercourse towards the very end of her last period (day 7 of her cycle) and then ovulates between days 12-14, she could get pregnant.

Effectiveness Rates of Birth Control

Effectiveness Rate
Birth control pills
Birth control implant
Birth control patch
Depo Provera birth control shot
Birth control sponge
Vaginal ring
Cervical cap
Withdrawl (pull out method)
Effectiveness rates show how many women, out of 100 who used that method for a year, did not get pregnant. For source, see below*.

When Can I Take the "Morning After" Emergency Contraception Pill?

There is a special morning after pill (also known as the "Plan B" pill) that you can take up to five days after having sex, though it is most effective within the first 72 hours. The sooner you use it, the more chance that you won't have an unwanted pregnancy.

"There are no medical contraindications for Plan B use the way there may be for other hormonal birth control options," says Dr. Prince. "That means even if a woman has a medical condition which would increase her risk for adverse effects if a hormonal birth control option is used long-term, the same does not hold true for Plan B as it is a one-time use versus long-term use."

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

When Am I Most Fertile?

  • 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.
  • 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.

How Can I Avoid Getting Pregnant Without Using a Condom?

Fertility awareness is a birth control method. It is also called the rhythm method. This method involves very carefully tracking your cycle so that you know exactly when you are fertile. If you do not use birth control and don't want to get pregnant, then you should avoid intercourse during that fertile period.

"This method requires precise knowledge of the actual day of ovulation," says Dr. Prince. "Since this day can vary month to month, a woman needs to recognize other signs of ovulation such as a change in the cervical mucus and rise in body temperature for the rhythm method to be effective."

There are different ways to track your cycle and identify your fertile period.

  • Taking your temperature every morning before you get out of bed. A woman's body temperature rises when she ovulates.
  • Checking cervical mucus. The discharge that comes out of your vagina changes during your cycle. Right before and during ovulation, there is usually more discharge and it is more slippery.
  • Tracking your period on a calendar, including the number of days for each period, when they start and when they end. After keeping track for six months, you can identify your fertile period by selecting the shortest of the six cycles you have recorded. Subtract 18 from its total number of days. Now count that number ahead for your current cycle and mark that day with an X. That is your first fertile day.

How to Know for Sure Whether You Are Pregnant

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 as the pregnancy develops.

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 you think you may be pregnant, you may soon be experiencing some pregnancy symptoms. However, most pregnancy symptoms don't start until between 3-9 weeks after you fall pregnant. 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.
  • Stuffy nose.

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

Can I Still Get an STD if We Used a Condom?

Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. There is no guaranteed way to prevent STDs during sexual activity.

For example, condom use may not protect against Herpes infection for several reasons. One is that herpetic lesions may not just be on the penis, which is the only part of the genitalia that the condom covers. Lesions may be anywhere on the male or female genitalia and skin. Once skin-to-skin contact is made, transmission of herpes is possible.

Also, a person does not need to have lesions in order to spread herpes. This is called "asymptomatic shedding." Since most people are unaware that they have herpes as they have not had any symptoms such as lesions, pain, or burning, asymptomatic shedding is the most common way herpetic transmission occurs.

Condoms also do not also prevent HIV. This is because most people don’t use condoms during oral sex, so HIV can still be transmitted that way.

Other STDs are a cause for concern. For example, hepatitis B can cause liver disease and HPV can lead to certain types of cancer.

Chlamydia, however, is very common and easy to treat. The same is true for gonorrhea.

Why You Should Take a Pregnancy Test

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

  • If you are pregnant, the further you are along the higher the chance that untreated complications (such as miscarriage or pregnancy-related symptoms) could put your health at risk.
  • If you are pregnant and wish to carry it to term, you need to begin taking pregnancy vitamins and eating correctly. Otherwise, the baby has a higher chance of a disability such as spina bifida.
  • If you've contracted an STD or STI (sexually transmitted infection) from the unprotected sex, chances are that you need treatment. Not getting treated could harm the baby and you.

What to Do About an Unwanted Pregnancy

You need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will confirm the pregnancy results and offer advice about options.

If a doctor isn't the best option for you, talk to a trusted friend. Support and information are available to help you decide your next steps.


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Expert Review

Dr. Tami Prince

Women's Health and Wellness Center of Georgia
Marietta, Georgia

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Kiah 8 days ago

        I have unprotected sex with my boyfriend and. I'm experiencing early symptoms of pregnancy but we had sex just 4 days ago. Am I pregnant?

      • profile image

        Victoria 10 days ago

        Hi im 16 snd my boyfriend is 15 is is easy for me to get pregnant

      • profile image

        Melissa Judith 4 weeks ago

        Hey I have a question. So me and my boyfriend recently had sex over the weekend and we used a condom and he came then the moment we stopped I realised the condom broke so does that mean I'll most likely fall pregnant? And I was also ovulating at the time.

      • profile image

        Goreth 4 weeks ago

        Ooooh my GUSH I'm scared

      • profile image

        Aly 2 months ago

        Hi susannah i would like to ask you a question! I have been having unprotected sex with my boy friend all the times,my period was on june 10 2017 i had unprotected sex with my boyfriend! On 28 june 2017 i had protected sex with someone else! Who could be the father of the childe since my doctor told me my due date is 29 march 2018!!