Unprotected sex is when the condom broke, you didn’t use one, or you forgot to take your pill. This page has information on what you need to think about to keep yourself safe from a sexually transmissible infection (STI) or from an unplanned pregnancy. We’ve created an easy checklist of what you need to know (and do) over the next few weeks to look after yourself.
Please know: If you were forced into or were unwilling about the sexual activity, talk to us. We can help you get support. If your situation is unsafe, you can use the Shielded Site tool at the bottom of this page and every page on our website to contact Women's Refuge or to find information that might help. You can also find more information at www.saats-link.nz
WITHIN 30 MINUTES: Lower your chances of having a UTI
Sexual intercourse increases your risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI). Bacteria that gets into your urethra (where the pee comes out) can cause an infection, which means it can make it hurt to pee, you might need to pee more often, or you could have pain in your tummy.
Having a pee soon after sex will help flush out bacteria you might have been exposed to. Drinking lots of water will help.
If you think you have a UTI, make an appointment with us or with your health provider to get some antibiotics. This will clear up most UTIs in a few days.
WITHIN 72 HOURS: TAKE THE EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVE PILL
The emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) can be taken up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex, but for most people it’s effective up to four days after sex.
The sooner you take it, the better, so make an appointment with us or with your health provider as soon as possible.
Don’t forget we run drop-in sessions from many of our clinics, so you might not even need an appointment.
If you can’t get to a clinic or a doctor in time, you can still buy the ECP at the pharmacy without a prescription – although this can be more expensive.
ECP is 98% effective if you're of average weight but less effective if you're heavier.
OR, WITHIN FIVE DAYS: GET AN IUD
A copper intra uterine device (IUD) is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Almost anyone can get an IUD, but it is especially recommended if you're too late for the ECP or if you weigh more than 70kg.
The IUD can be inserted into the uterus up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex, depending on where you are in your cycle. A copper IUD is a really good idea because once it’s in, you can decided to leave it it in place. You’ll be protected from pregnancy for 10 years, plus it’s 99% effective – so it’s one of the best options out there.
TWO WEEKS LATER: GET AN STI CHECK
Whether you’ve noticed symptoms or not, you should get an STI test two weeks after having unprotected sex, especially if it was with someone new.
If it was unprotected sex with your regular partner however, and you’ve both been tested and cleared of any STIs in the past, then you should be okay.
Remember you can get an STI test at Family Planning – all you need to do is pay for your appointment and it’s free if you are under 22.
THREE WEEKS LATER: TAKE A PREGNANCY TEST
It’s best to wait two to three weeks after having unprotected sex before you take a pregnancy test, or from the first day of your missed period. If you take it before then, your body may not have had enough time to build up the hCG hormone (the pregnancy hormone), which is how pregnancy tests detect pregnancy.
You can do a pregnancy test at Family Planning*, your regular health provider, or you can buy them at pharmacies and supermarkets.
*If you’re coming to a Family Planning clinic to do a pregnancy test or STI test, make sure you don’t pee right before your appointment, because you’ll probably need to give a urine sample.
FOR NEXT TIME: Organise contraception
If you’re using condoms as your main method of contraception and you find you’re having a few slip ups with them, think about switching to a more reliable type of contraception.
Long-acting contraceptives like the IUD and implant are really effective at preventing unintended pregnancies and they last for three to 10 years. Our nurses will help you decide what type of contraception will work best for you.
Whichever type of contraception you decide to use, remember to also use condoms if you want to protect yourself from STIs.
Using a condom plus your regular method of contraception will help protect you from unintended pregnancies and STIs.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.