Having unprotected sex is not a wise thing but it does happen. Among young people, even adults, emotions can become high and sex happens without thinking of putting on a condom or any other contraceptive. Unprotected sex is any sex without contraception or a condom. A lot of persons, especially young girls and women feel afraid of an infection with an STI or possible pregnancy.
These fears are heightened when sex has occurred with a total stranger. Information for young people on where to get help if you have had unprotected sex. Having sex without protection is risky. You’re risking pregnancy, getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), including HIV, and possibly stress.
Questions such as, what if they have an infection and it has been passed to me, how can I deal with being pregnant with a stranger’s baby, how do I go through pregnancy without the father of my child? If you are a woman who have had sex with a man in such a situation, this is what to do.
Act fast. Emergency contraception can be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex but it is proven to be most effective within the first 12 hours. Speak to your healthcare provider, they are there to help. You should not see emergency contraception as a regular contraceptive or use it like one. Protect yourself from accidental pregnancy by informing yourself of the contraceptive methods and speaking to your healthcare provider. Learn more about pregnancy tests.
Tips on other things that can be done
Speak to your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If the intercourse happened less than 72 hours ago, emergency contraception, the morning after pill, can be taken as a precaution against you becoming pregnant. However, note that the sooner you take the emergency contraceptive pill, the more effective it is. You can also buy a home pregnancy test but you should always speak to your healthcare provider as well. Don’t wait around and bury your head in the sand saying “it won’t happen to me” and “I’ll be fine” you might not be, and then you’ll find yourself in a much more difficult situation than if you’d faced the situation head on and quickly.
What if it is an STI?
So you’ve had unprotected sex and you’re worried you might be infected. Not all STIs have visible symptoms so even if you think you’re fine, after having unprotected sex, get tested! You may have forgotten to use contraception, or it may not have worked. Sometimes a condom might split or slip off during sex. This still counts as unprotected sex, and you’re at risk of STIs and pregnancy. Always hold on to the base of the condom when the penis is pulled out. This will stop the condom slipping off and leaking sperm.
Women who have sex with women also need to know about safer sex because they can pass infections on to each other.
Unsafe sex and infections
There are lots of STIs, and you only have to have sex with someone once, or have oral sex once, to catch one or more STIs. You can’t tell by looking at someone whether or not they have an STI. The best way to avoid getting an STI is to use a condom every time you have sex. Always buy condoms that have the CE mark or BSI kite mark on the packet because this means they have been tested to high safety standards.
Getting a check-up
Go for a check-up if you have had unprotected sex and you have any unusual symptoms around your genitals (vagina or penis), such as:
- pain when you pee
- an unusual or smelly discharge
- unexplained bleeding
Some people don’t notice any symptoms when they have an STI. If you think you might be at risk, it’s important that you get tested, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
- Go to your nearest sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic, or see your GP.
- Find sexual health services near you, including sexual health and GUM clinics.
- Using sexual health clinics during coronavirus
- Call a sexual health clinic if you need help or advice. Only go to a clinic if you’ve been told to.
- Find sexual health clinic contact details
Pregnancy after unprotected sex
If a man and woman have unprotected sex, the woman can get pregnant. It doesn’t matter what position she has sex in, what time of the month it is, or whether it’s her first time. There’s always a risk of unwanted pregnancy, but using contraception and a condom can help to protect against it.
If you think you’re pregnant after having unprotected sex
Usually, the first sign of pregnancy is a missed period. The only way to find out for sure is to do a pregnancy test. You can buy a test at a pharmacy or supermarket or get one for free at:
- a contraceptive or sexual health clinic
- a young persons’ clinic
- some General Practice surgeries or pharmacies
If you’re pregnant, talk to a doctor or nurse as soon as possible so you can discuss your choices and any difficult questions you may have. They can help you make the decision that’s right for you.
Emergency contraception can help prevent pregnancy after you have had unprotected sex. Emergency contraception is more effective the sooner it’s taken.
There are 2 types of emergency contraception:
- the emergency contraceptive pill (sometimes called the “morning-after” pill)
- the intrauterine device, or IUD(sometimes called a coil)
The IUD can be inserted into your uterus up to 5 days after unprotected sex. You can get the emergency contraceptive pill and the IUD free from:
- a GP surgery that provides contraception
- a contraceptive clinic
- a sexual health clinic
- some young people’s clinics
You can also get the emergency contraceptive pill free from:
- some pharmacies
- some NHS walk-in centres and minor injuries units
- some accident and emergency (A&E) departments
If you’re not using a regular method of contraception, find one that suits you (and where to get it) so you can start using it as soon as possible.
You can get help and advice on contraception from:
- a community contraceptive clinic
- a GP surgery that offers contraception
- a sexual health clinic