“Can I be pregnant?” Why my answer is almost always, “Yes!”
One of the most common questions I answer on Bundoo is, “Can I be pregnant?” I often receive these questions on Week 1-2 of our week-by-week pregnancy series. Though the scenarios vary, my answer is almost always some variation of the following:
- “If you are having unprotected sex, yes you can be pregnant.”
- “If you want to be pregnant, you need to start taking prenatal vitamins if you aren’t already.”
- “You should take a pregnancy test to find out if you are pregnant, as this is the only way to know for sure.”
My rationale goes something like this: if you have a uterus and at least one ovary and fallopian tube, then you are capable of conceiving a baby. Throw unprotected sex into the mix, and it makes pregnancy only that much more likely.
While it is true that at certain times of a woman’s cycle, pregnancy is much more likely (we call this the fertile window, and you can read more about that here), in reality it is possible to conceive at any point in your cycle. This is because sometimes cycles are irregular, or tracking may not be perfect and the wrong fertile window was calculated.
While symptoms of pregnancy can be a good hint at whether or not you are pregnant—sore breasts, nausea, fatigue—they are also not helpful in confirming if you are pregnant or not, and can often just be signs of PMS.
One comment I’ve seen time and again is that a woman’s partner pulled out before he ejaculated, so she is hoping this is enough to prevent pregnancy. This is definitely not a form of birth control! As this great chart from the Centers for Disease Control shows, if 100 women used withdrawal as their method of birth control, 22 of them would be pregnant after one year. These are terrible odds, so don’t rely on this alone to prevent pregnancy!
I always recommend to any woman having unprotected sex that she take a daily prenatal vitamin. This is because her chances of an unintended pregnancy are huge, so it is best to be prepared for it. Also, so much key development happens in the weeks before a woman even knows she is pregnant, especially of the baby’s neural tube, and folic acid in prenatal vitamins play an enormous role in preventing these birth defects.
When to take a pregnancy test is often a question as well. As we’ve explained here, you can often test the week before your missed period. However, done this early a negative test may not be accurate and if you go on to miss your period, be sure to take another test.
My main concern with the questions I get asked is how many women are having unprotected sex and are worried they are pregnant. The good news is that emergency contraceptive options are more widely available these days, but it is still not great to rely on these to prevent pregnancy. These will not prevent a pregnancy that is already implanted in the uterus; in this case, a woman would need a pregnancy termination.
If you find yourself having unprotected sex but not wanting to actually become pregnant, be sure to make an appointment to see your doctor ASAP. There are many effective birth control options out there, and they can help find one that works best for you. My disclaimer is also that even with birth control you can still become pregnant, but the odds are much lower (and they vary depending on what type of birth control you use). This can give you much more peace of mind and hopefully keep you from needing to worry in the middle of the night if you might be pregnant!
It’s those false negatives that are so nerve wracking, especially for women with irregular cycles!!