HealthBirth ControlReproductive Health

How to Avoid Pregnancy After Sex

Having unprotected sex can sometimes lead to unintended pregnancy. If birth control fails or you forget to use protection, you still have options to try to prevent pregnancy afterwards.

Take Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraceptive pills like Plan B can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72-120 hours of unprotected sex.

  • Works by delaying or stopping ovulation.
  • Available over-the-counter or by prescription.
  • Effective if taken ASAP after sex.
  • Sometimes called the “morning after pill”.

Emergency IUD insertion by a doctor is another highly effective emergency contraception option when done within 5 days.

Track Your Fertility

Understanding when you ovulate is key after unprotected sex.

  • Monitor cervical mucus and track cycle with fertility awareness methods.
  • Identify your fertile window when pregnancy is possible.
  • If sex was outside this window, chances of pregnancy are low.

Cycle tracking and fertility awareness can relieve some stress if sex was on a likely non-fertile day.

Take Ulipristal Acetate

This emergency contraceptive pill can prevent ovulation and works better than Plan B in some cases.

  • More effective for overweight women.
  • Can be taken within 5 days (120 hours) after sex.
  • Requires a prescription.

Discuss ulipristal acetate with your doctor soon after unprotected sex for optimal results. Do not use if already pregnant.

Consider Copper IUD

A non-hormonal copper IUD can provide emergency contraception for up to 7 days after sex.

  • Over 99% effective if inserted within 5 days.
  • Provides long-term birth control for future protection.
  • Must be placed by a healthcare provider.

This method has risks including pain, bleeding, perforation and expulsion. Discuss with a doctor.

Use Condoms

Using a condom properly for any subsequent sex before your next period can reduce pregnancy risk after initial unprotected sex.

  • Provides barrier against sperm reaching egg.
  • Works better paired with cycle tracking.
  • Use only latex/polyisoprene condoms – others won’t work.

While not as effective alone, condoms add protection until you know if you conceived or your next cycle starts.

Get a Prescription Anti-Progestin

Your doctor may prescribe an anti-progestin pill in some cases to prevent pregnancy after sex by disrupting implantation.

  • Taken within 72-120 hours after intercourse.
  • Not as effective as emergency contraception pills.
  • May have more side effects like headaches, nausea.

Anti-progestins are a last resort option if other methods fail or are unavailable.

No method is 100% guaranteed to prevent a pregnancy after sex. But taking emergency contraception ASAP gives you the best chance. Track your fertility, use condoms, and see a doctor promptly if birth control fails. Make informed choices to avoid conception.

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