If you find yourself in a situation where you may be suspecting an unplanned pregnancy, whether it’s due to unprotected sex or perhaps failed contraception, being informed can help you take the proper steps, quicker.
If you have had unprotected sex in the past 120 hours and did not want to get pregnant, emergency contraception is available, so consult a physician.
Missed Period: The first and most obvious sign is a missed period. However, many women these days have irregular periods so it may not be the most reliable sign, especially if there are other underlying health conditions. Also bear in mind that some women may have a light period even when pregnant.
Morning Sickness: Nausea, at any time of the day, or difficulty keeping food down can be a sign of pregnancy.
Breast Changes: Changes in the size and feeling of your breasts can occur, similar to symptoms just before your period. They can enlarge and become more tender, with veins becoming more visible.
Frequent Urination: Needing to pass urine more frequently, including at night may also be a sign.
Vaginal Discharge: Increased vaginal discharge without irritation or soreness
Metallic Taste: Many women describe a strange ‘metallic’ taste in their mouth.
Other symptoms may include constipation or tiredness.
Time of Cycle
The best time to get pregnant is during the ‘Fertility Window’ which is 5 days before ovulation (when the egg is released). This is the only time an egg can become fertilised so you can use this to determine the chances of pregnancy. The only issue is, knowing the exact time of ovulation is difficult and varies between females. It can be calculated using paid services however, it usually occurs 10 to 16 days before your next period. If you had unprotected sex outside of the 5 days of ovulation, no egg would be fertilised and you wouldn’t be pregnant.
It’s important to remember that several of these symptoms are vague and possible from a number of other conditions. Therefore, a more reliable method of detecting pregnancy is my carrying out a pregnancy test. There are multiple forms of pregnancy tests which require either a blood or urine sample but they all measure the level of HCG in the blood. Once an egg has been fertilised and attaches to your uterine lining, it releases the hormone HCG in high quantities so it can be used to detect pregnancy.
However, since implantation varies among females during early pregnancy, so will the release of HCG therefore taking it too early may not give accurate results. Whilst most tests claim to be accurate as early as the first day after a missed pregnancy, it is best to wait till after the first day or even a week later.
Sure Signs of Pregnancy Without a Test
Unfortunately, there are no sure signs of pregnancy without the test during the early stages. It can be narrowed down to ‘very likely’ but even with multiple symptoms, there is no guarantee it means pregnancy. However, the most reliable source can be your own experience. You are most aware of your usual patterns and body so if you notice tenderness and enlarged breasts when you never ordinarily get these symptoms, it would be an alarm bell for you.
Similarly, missed periods are common in women today due to a poor diet, increased stress levels and imbalanced hormones. So if you have used protection and have missed your period, the chances are you are not pregnant.
Even with pregnancy test there’s a chance of false-negatives or false-positives (still a rare occurrence) so there is no 100% guaranteed method of checking pregnancy in the early stages.
Pregnancy Test – Am I Pregnant?
Pregnancy tests have become increasingly popular as the period of uncertainty of unplanned pregnancy can be a stressful one. However, these quizzes rarely give anything more than piece of mind (or stress). They should not be relied on but can serve as effective tools to help re-collection of important details such as lifestyle patterns.
If you wish to take a pregnancy test at home, then wait till after the day you would usually have your period otherwise consult a doctor immediately to explore your options e.g the ‘morning after’ pill which must be taken within 3-5 days after unprotected sex.