My girlfriend is 20, I’m 21. We always use a condom when we have sex, and sometimes I pull out anyway. She’s a week late on her period. We’ve never had a condom break that I know of. Could she be pregnant?
Short answer: YES! Yes, of course she could be pregnant! Dummy! I am answering this particular question as a stand-in for the many many similar questions, both directed at me and out in the world, that go something like: a man and woman had sex and here are all of these specifics about what kind of birth control they used and their ages like somehow that matters and some sexual history and her period is late could she be pregnant?
And you know what? Of course she could. Always. Yes. Even on the pill, even doubling up pill and condom, even with an IUD. I know the person asking this question is really saying, “I did everything right so I shouldn’t worry about this, right? It will go away on its own?” I know because I am a worrier by nature and have more than once spent the few days after my period should’ve arrived thinking back on whether I took a pill late or whether the swelling in my boobs is period-related or pregnancy-related. I get it. But the bad news is that sometimes, even if you are super careful, birth control fails. It’s not fair! But them’s the breaks.
So if you think you might be pregnant, or your partner might be pregnant, or your friend, just TAKE A PREGNANCY TEST. It’s scary. They’re kind of expensive. They’re not 100 percent foolproof. But you should still do it. If you seriously can’t afford one, borrow the money. Or hell, just steal it. I mean, shoplifting is wrong so don’t get caught. But finding out if you’re pregnant (at least to the accuracy of a home test) early will be really helpful to you, whatever your oops plan entails. And yes, all straight, sexually active women have oops plans.
If you’re seeking an abortion, catching it early will give you way more time and flexibility to plan for the procedure, save up the money if it’s not covered by your insurance, and jump through the required legal hoops. Depending on where you live, you might have to plan an overnight stay or drive to another state, and later abortions may or may not be legal, so time is definitely something to have on your side.
If you’re carrying the baby to term, the earlier you can stop drinking and smoking and get yourself on prenatal vitamins, the better it is for the kid. That first trimester is a big one, so if you can be getting prenatal care during that time, it’s really a plus.
If you’re not pregs, then you can quit worrying and go about your business. Please do be aware, though, that depending on what kind of pregnancy test you used, how early, and the quirks of human chemistry, it is possible to get a false negative. So if you take a test and get a no, but still no period, try again or see your doctor.
And so from this day forward, let it be known: if you have had the kind of sex that can get you pregnant, and you miss a period, instead of writing to an advice column, TAKE A PREGNANCY TEST!