anonymous on September 12, 2011

Can I get pregnant if I have unprotected sex during my period?

I’m a 16-year-old girl, and I just had sex for the first time...and we didn't have a condom. He pulled out early...and I started to get my period that night. Is there a chance that I could get pregnant?

answered by Linda Lesondak, PhD on September 12, 2011

I appreciate the courage it took for you to write. I’ll do my best to answer your question and provide some additional information that I hope will be helpful to you.

First, if you’re truly having your period, it’s very unlikely that you would be pregnant. Women become pregnant during ovulation when the ovaries release an egg that travels to one of your fallopian tubes and into the uterus.

Ovulation usually occurs in the middle of a woman’s cycle. This means that if you have a regular 28-day cycle, ovulation would begin about 14 days after the the beginning of your last period.

About your partner “pulling out early” (also called coitus interruptus, or CI)...this is a very ineffective form of birth control. Why? Because pre-ejaculation fluid can contain sperm which, in turn, can cause pregnancy during ovulation. This means that you could get pregnant even if your partner does not ejaculate.

In addition, CI won’t protect you against sexual transmitted diseases (STDs).

So, although it’s unlikely that you’re pregnant, there’s still a chance that you were exposed to an STD if your partner is carrying a sexually transmitted infection.

What should you do from here? First, in future, be sure to use birth control and condoms during all sexual activity...including oral sex, as well as vaginal and anal sex. Also be aware that some STDs can be spread through genital rubbing (e.g., genital-to-genital contact, but no penetration). And be sure to get tested for STDs regularly.

In fact, your age group is especially vulnerable to STDs. A study of girls ages 14-17 showed that 25% of all girls contracted an STD within a year of having their first sexual experience (and most often, the STD was chlamydia).

So, that you’re sexually active, be sure to get tested for common STDs on a regular basis.

What are common STDs? Chlamydia, for one. Also gonorrhea, herpes 1 and 2, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and HIV. The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine agrees that HIV testing should be offered as part of routine care for sexually active adolescents. You can learn more about all of these STDs ⎼ including risk factors, symptoms and prevention ⎼ in our Expert Guides to STDs.

You should be able to get tested for STDs through your doctor or at a clinic without permission from an adult. All 50 states follow “self-consent for diagnosis and treatment of STD” laws. But state laws do a little research to find out the laws in your state with an internet search by calling your state’s health department.

Good luck to you! I wish you a healthy, happy future.

Related info:

Linda Lesondak, PhD

Dr. Lesondak is a Community Psychologist with the Chicago Department of Public Health. Her areas of expertise include STDs, HIV, preventive care, public health and community planning, as well as human sexuality and women’s health. Dr. Lesondak was educated at Georgia University in Atlanta.

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