Maybe the condom broke, you didn’t use one, or you forgot to take your pill - it’s okay, we know from time to time, accidents happen.
But whether it was a one-off, sex with your regular partner, or something in between, you need to think about keeping yourself safe from a sexually transmissible infection (STI) and 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 about it. We can help you get support.
WITHIN 30 MINUTES
Lower your chances of a UTI (urinary tract infection)
Having a pee/mimi soon after having sex will help flush out any bacteria that you might have been exposed to during sex. Drinking lots of water is also really helpful.
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.
Sexual intercourse increases your risk of developing a UTI, and because of the way female bodies are set up, females are more likely to develop a UTI.
If you do later think you have a UTI, make an appointment at Family Planning 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 ECP (emergency contraceptive pill) can be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex, but new research shows it’s effective up to four days after sex.
We say the sooner you take it, the better, so make an appointment at Family Planning 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.
The ECP is 98% effective for women of average weight.
OR, WITHIN 5 DAYS
Get an IUD
A copper IUD (intra uterine device) is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Almost anyone can get an IUD, but it is especially recommended for women who are too late for the ECP or who weigh more than 70kg.
The IUD can be inserted into the uterus up to 120 hours (5 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 ten years, plus it’s 99% effective – so it’s one of the best options out there.
2 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.
3 WEEKS LATER
Do 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 wee right before your appointment, because you’ll probably need to give a urine sample.
FOR NEXT TIME
Organise contraception for next time
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 3 to 10 years. There are heaps of options available though and 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 use condoms as well 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.