» Question about Pregnancy ?
How does a woman become
A woman usually becomes pregnant after having sexual
intercourse. This is where a man puts his erect penis inside a
woman's vagina. The friction caused by moving his penis in and
out of her vagina will cause him to get increasingly excited
until eventually he ejaculates (or 'comes') and releases a
sticky white substance called semen. This semen contains
millions of tiny sperm cells, which then swim up the woman's
vagina, into her uterus (womb) and then into her fallopian tubes
where they may join with the tiny egg that she releases from one
of her ovaries every month. If this 'joining' (also known as
fertilisation or conception) occurs, then she will become
pregnant. For more information about reproduction and
fertilisation, please visit our puberty, pregnancy and sex page.
How can I prevent pregnancy?
If you don't want to become pregnant, you will need to use
contraception. There are lots of different forms of
contraception available. The most well known are the
contraceptive pill and the condom. To find out more about how
these and other contraceptive methods work, please visit our
contraception FAQ or birth control pages.
Is there a "safe time" to have sexual intercourse?
There is unfortunately no 'safe' time to have unprotected sex if
you wish to avoid getting pregnant. Even unprotected sex during
a girl's period can result in pregnancy. Although women are
generally only fertile for a few days every month (usually
around the middle of the menstrual cycle) most women have no
definite way of knowing when this is. Sperm can also survive
inside the body for several days, meaning a woman can
potentially become pregnant over quite a long period of time. If
she has irregular periods, "safe" days can be particularly
difficult to predict. Some couples do use the so called 'rhythm'
method as a form of contraception, but the success rate is not
high, and it also offers no protection from STDs such as HIV.
What are the chances of becoming pregnant from a single
act of sex?
The likelihood of becoming pregnant from a single act of
unprotected sex (for example, from a one night stand) varies
from person to person, and also depends on the stage of a
woman's menstrual cycle. The probability is highest around the
time of ovulation (when the egg is released), when, on average,
up to one third of women will become pregnant from having sex
What is the best way to get pregnant?
Many women spend much of their life trying not to get pregnant,
and then find that when they actually try to have a baby, it
takes a lot longer than they had hoped. If you are trying for a
baby and don't get pregnant the first time you try, it is
important not to panic. Many perfectly healthy women can take up
to a year or more to become pregnant. Your best chance of
getting pregnant will be if you have frequent sex around the
time of ovulation. For women with a regular 28-day menstrual
cycle, this will be approximately 14 days after the start of
their last period, although it can vary from woman to woman. In
some countries it may be possible to buy an ovulation testing
kit from a chemist to help you work out when you're most
If you continue to have problems, you should contact your doctor
for advice. They will be able to refer you for tests to ensure
that there are no physical problems that are preventing you from
If a man pulls his penis out before he comes or doesn't
put it in all the way, can a woman still get pregnant?
Unfortunately even if a man doesn't insert his penis all the
way, or withdraws his penis before ejaculation, a woman can
still become pregnant. This is because 'pre-cum' (the
lubricating fluid that leaks out of a man's penis before and
during sex) can contain sperm. If this fluid gets in or around a
woman's vagina, it can find its way inside, and she can become
Can a woman become pregnant as a result of anal sex?
A woman cannot become pregnant as a result of anal sex directly,
although if any sperm leaks from the anus and enters the vagina,
pregnancy could occur. Anal sex is therefore not the best way of
avoiding pregnancy on a long term basis. It is better to use
regular contraception such as the birth control pill or condoms.
Anyone wanting to try anal
intercourse should be 100% that their partner willing too, as
the idea of anal sex makes many people very uncomfortable. It
also carries a higher risk of transmission for HIV and other
infections, so it is a good idea to use a condom if you do
decide to try it.
Can a woman become pregnant through oral sex if she
No, a woman cannot become pregnant as a result of oral sex even
if she swallows. A woman can only become pregnant if sperm get
inside her vagina.
Can sperm pass through clothes?
No, generally clothing acts as a barrier against sperm.
Are there any ways to tell if you are pregnant without
using a pregnancy test?
The first sign of pregnancy is usually the absence of a period.
Other symptoms of pregnancy can include tender breasts, nausea
and tiredness but not everybody experiences these. If you
suspect you are pregnant you should take a pregnancy test. This
can be done at a clinic, or you can buy a home testing kit from
most major supermarkets and pharmacies. If you use a home test
kit it is important to get the result confirmed by your doctor
or healthcare professional at a local clinic.
How long should I wait before carrying out a pregnancy
It depends on the type of test you buy. Most tests recommend
testing on the day your period is due, although you can buy some
that can detect the pregnancy hormone in your urine up to four
or five days before this. Make sure you read the instructions
thoroughly to find out how long you should wait. If you are not
sure when your period is due, the best idea is to wait for at
least a 10 days after having had unprotected sex before testing
(although it is worth remembering that it can take up to
nineteen days or more to show a positive result). If you get a
negative result but your period still doesn't arrive, you should
test again at three-day intervals, until your period starts or
you get a positive result. The sooner you find out you are
pregnant, the sooner you can start thinking about what to do
The test result was negative, but my period still hasn't
arrived. Could I still be pregnant?
If you have tested too soon (see above), then yes, you might
still be pregnant. However if you are sure you haven't tested
too soon, then it may well be stress that has delayed your
period. Worrying about pregnancy (or anything else) can drive
your stress hormones up, and this can in turn interfere with
your menstrual cycle. If you have lost or gained a lot of weight
recently, have undertaken lots of vigorous exercise or you have
irregular periods generally, these could also be to blame. Girls
who have only recently started their periods often experience
very irregular cycles too, so if you've only been menstruating
for a couple of years or less, try not to panic! If your period
is more than a week or two late when you're normally regular
however, you should probably think about seeing your doctor.
I'm pregnant! What can I do?
If you were planning to get pregnant, then finding out you're
expecting a baby can be a wonderful surprise. However, if you
weren't, it is more likely to be a big shock. The most important
thing to remember is that you are not alone, and you do have
more than one option. The first thing you should do is go to
your doctor or your local sexual health or family planning
clinic. They will be able to discuss your options with you and
help you to decide what to do next. Whether you decide to keep
the baby, put it up for adoption or have an abortion (in places
where it's legal), it's essential that you do what's right for
you and don't feel pressurised into making a decision. Our help
and advice page can provide you with some links to services and
sources of information that may be of use.