Yet another pregnancy scare
June 26, 2010 4:30 PM   Subscribe

What are my chances of getting pregnant, realistically speaking (NSFW details inside)?

So on Friday night and Saturday morning I engaged in sexual activity with a guy, about 40 hours after the start of my period. I normally have 30-32 day long cycles and estimate that my most fertile period will be from July 5th to July 10th. There was no ejaculation and little penetration (only the tip of the penis) as I have not had sex many times before and wasn't terribly relaxed and he has a thick penis. We used a condom but it kept slipping off and he was having trouble keeping an erection with it on. So we decided to just try to get to penetration without the condom and he could withdraw and put the condom on. We did this but I'm worried about the possibilities of sperm in the precum.
I am a early-twenties graduate student at a good university in a liberal town in a liberal state in the US.
1) Get emergency contraception (Plan B One Step) tomorrow morning from the local pharmacy.
2) Wait until Monday morning and call the people at my student health center (who are generally very helpful) and get EC from the pharmacy there.
3) Sit tight and not worry because chances are very low that I'm pregnant. I have in general a very regular cycle so I expect to get my next period on July 25th.
TL;DR: No penetration, no ejaculation, not during fertile part of cycle. Get emergency contraception now or don't worry about it.
Please bear in mind that I tend to get quite paranoid about these things and let small things balloon into big things that eat me with worry. So I'm leaning towards the EC just for peace of mind, but would really appreciate hearing your thoughts.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

If in doubt, bring the nukes out. (That's code for get the emergency contraception).
posted by Biru at 4:36 PM on June 26, 2010

It's incredibly unlikely that you're pregnant, since, if I've got this right, you're currently menstruating. Still, if it's going to drive you to the verge of insanity for the next 3.5 weeks and you can afford it, emergency contraception might be worth the investment.

(As a former fellow pregnancy-phobic person, I can understand the tight grasp of irrational fear)
posted by scrute at 4:41 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I cannot think of any reason not to get emergency contraception in this case. The chances are very low, but if you're going to be neurotic about this for a month, EC is the way to go.
posted by jeather at 4:42 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

If you're currently menstruating, the chances of you getting pregnant are vanishingly small, particularly considering that he didn't even ejaculate. When I was trying (hard) to get pregnant, I wouldn't even record such an encounter, so unlikely would it be to result in pregnancy.

But as the above folks said, I can't think of a big downside to taking EC. It might make you a little nauseated, so be prepped for that.
posted by KathrynT at 4:51 PM on June 26, 2010

Yeah, emergency contraception. SO MUCH peace of mind. And the sooner you get it, the sooner you will have that peace of mind, but if there's a difference in cost between the two places, it's up to you how much the peace of mind is worth.
posted by Lebannen at 4:51 PM on June 26, 2010

1) Get emergency contraception (Plan B One Step) tomorrow morning is the best option.

Emergency contraception is more effective the sooner you take it after unprotected sex. You need to take the emergency pill within 120 hours (five days). The sooner you take emergency contraception, the more likely it is to be effective.

Also, option 1) will reduce the time during which you are feeling very anxious.

Don't do 3) Sit tight and not worry You can get pregnant from precum, at almost any stage in your cycle.

From Sexual Health and Family Planning:

"Can you get pregnant if you have sex while you have got a period?

This is something lots of people wonder about.
It's mostly unlikely for a woman to get pregnant if she has sex during her period, but it's not a simple "no".

It depends on how long her cycle is, from the start of one period to the next, and how long her period (bleed) lasts.

A woman ovulates approximately two weeks before she bleeds. Although the egg only lives 12-24 hours and there is therefore only one day when a woman is actually fertile, the sperm can survive for up to five days in fertile mucous in a woman's cervix and can fertilise the egg when it is released.

If you have sex in the few days before you ovulate, you could possibly get pregnant when the egg arrives.

If a woman has a short cycle (from the start of one period to the start of the next), she still ovulates about two weeks before she bleeds. If she also has a long period or bleed (bleeds for a lot of days), then it is possible that she may still be bleeding up until she ovulates, or just before."

Also consider getting an STD/STI test - the experience you describe could have lead to an sexually transmitted infection. Many STIs (like chlamydia) have no symptoms in most people, so early detection and treatment is vital to a) prevent spreading it to a partner and b) stop irreversible complications of untreated chlamydia like chronic pelvic pain and permanent infertility.

Also (and I mean this in a friendly way) a low-risk alternative for next time would be to give him oral sex with a dental dam or condom to firm up his erection before trying penetrative sex.

Some men also find soft cock rings can help with maintaining their erections.

Another option, where he gets to have penetrative sex without wearing a condom, but you both get to be protected from unwanted pregnancy and STIs, is the female condom.
posted by Year of meteors at 4:51 PM on June 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

Unwanted pregnancy scares eat up your sanity like nothing else. I would just go with the EC so you don't turn into a panicked mess.
posted by lilac girl at 4:51 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Next to no chance.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:57 PM on June 26, 2010

Oh and also, FWIW, when I went to the Saturday morning clinic at my student health centre to get emergency contraception, the only other people there were three other nervous-looking girls with their terrified-looking boyfriends in tow. I suspect that this is pretty standard for weekend/Monday student clinics, or indeed for pharmacies in student areas. The student health centre may well give you a leaflet about alternative options for contraception and one about STDs, the pharmacy probably won't.
posted by Lebannen at 5:03 PM on June 26, 2010

Just go get Plan B. $50 for peace of mind. Call ahead though because not all pharmacies stock it.
posted by whoaali at 5:08 PM on June 26, 2010

Penetration and ejaculation are not required for conception. Take no chances.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:18 PM on June 26, 2010

They'll probably give you Gravol with the pill. Some advice, based on a friend's very vomity experience: TAKE THE GRAVOL
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:19 PM on June 26, 2010

First, don't freak yourself out. I've been in this situation and it's really easy to start imagining the worst. Second, get Plan B as soon as possible. Then do something to try to take your mind off it for awhile. You'll be okay.
posted by lucysparrow at 5:22 PM on June 26, 2010

My son was conceived through sex 72 hours after my period started (I was still bleeding slightly) and without my husband ejaculating. (Yes, I can date it that precisely. I was traveling otherwise.)

Go to the pharmacy, get Plan B. Its two pills, you take them 12 hours apart. Best $50 you can spend.
posted by anastasiav at 5:30 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get emergency contraception and then get on birth control. Ta-Dah!
posted by spaltavian at 5:50 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's very, very unlikely that you could get pregnant. That said, if you haven't had sex a lot, and have no sense of how fertile you are, perhaps you should err on the side of EC just for peace of mind.

If you live in the SF bay area (long shot) and are willing to meet up with me today or tomorrow, I can get OTC Plan B for free on my health plan and give it to you.
posted by soviet sleepover at 6:08 PM on June 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

Look, you can hope and count your period days and whatever, but freak pregnancies happen. How good are you going to feel if you decide to take a chance, not run out and immediately get the EC, and then turn up pregnant? Then your decision making gets even uglier.

Go get it ASAP.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:04 PM on June 26, 2010

You're not pregnant. Your sperm-exposure was during menses and the odds of menstruating while ovulating are very, very, very, very, very low.

But you're a human being with a mind, and minds tend to freak out about dumb things sometimes. Take the Plan B.

If your playmate can't stay hard with a condom on, don't have penetrative sex. There are about twelve bajillion things to do in bed that don't require insertion of the penis into the vagina. If he whines, kick him to the curb.
posted by goblinbox at 7:06 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Strictly speaking, your chances of being pregnant based on the timing are slim. But I'd go with the EC. Every woman is different. I can't be in the same room as a man without getting knocked up, I swear. My first pregnancy was on an IUD-which supposedly left me fertility challenged because it ended very badly, second after one month of "trying" (so much for fertility challenged) and the third was after missing the first pill of my birth control pack-just one pill that I remembered to take the very next morning. Once we decide for sure we are done having kids, I'm getting fixed, he's getting fixed, and we'll hang garlic from our bedposts. But seriously, if this is going to keep you up at night-just go do it, sooner rather than later.
posted by supercapitalist at 7:19 PM on June 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

It's highly unlikely (particularly since he didn't ejaculate), but not technically impossible; the determining factor is where you ovulate in your cycle. Not every woman ovulates at exactly the halfway point between periods. If you ovulate quite early in your cycle -- and you have no way of determining that at this point, since you need to track your cycles regularly to determine what your ovulation pattern is -- then there is a possibility that you could become pregnant. If you tend to ovulate toward the middle or even late in your cycle, it's almost certainly impossible; your partner's sperm simply won't live long enough until the egg presents itself for fertilization. But, again, none of this is 100% knowable to you now. Ergo: Plan B, ASAP. Then on Monday, call your local Planned Parenthood and start the process of deciding on a long-term contraception plan for yourself.

the odds of menstruating while ovulating are very, very, very, very, very low.

It's not really about the odds of ovulating while menstruating; it's about the odds of ovulating soon enough after menstruation while there may still be viable sperm hanging around. (Case in point: one of my sister's pregnancies was achieved after she had intercourse during menstruation.) Conception can actually happen several days after intercourse. Generally, a woman's window of fertility actually includes more days before she ovulates (as many as four or five) than compared to the number of days after she ovulates (usually only two or three).
posted by scody at 7:26 PM on June 26, 2010

Although it is commonly believed that pre-ejaculate fluid can cause pregnancy, modern research has shown that pre-ejaculate fluid does not contain viable sperm.[6][7]

# ^ a b "Researchers find no sperm in pre-ejaculate fluid". Contraceptive Technology Update 14 (10): 154–156. October 1993. PMID 12286905.
# ^ a b Zukerman, Z.; Weiss D.B. Orvieto R. (April 2003). "Short Communication: Does Preejaculatory Penile Secretion Originating from Cowper's Gland Contain Sperm?". Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics 20 (4): 157–159. doi:10.1023/A:1022933320700. PMID 12762415.

posted by drjimmy11 at 7:59 PM on June 26, 2010

What are my chances of getting pregnant, realistically speaking

Whatever the chances are, they are not zero. Take precautions.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:12 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you can shop around, you can find it for less than $50, if money is an issue (you said you were a grad student ;)) USA Drug (e.g.) will sell it for $35 compared to the $50 from CVS or Walgreens.
posted by rubah at 9:48 PM on June 26, 2010

The stress from not knowing can delay your period even longer. My period was over a week late from worrying that I was pregnant in a similar scenario. Get the EC now and be worry free!!!
posted by smartypantz at 10:05 PM on June 26, 2010

Female student at sex-ed presentation my sophomore year in college: "I've heard you can't get pregnant during your period".
College nurse: "Let me introduce you to my son"---who was conceived because she thought this was the case.
posted by brujita at 10:49 PM on June 26, 2010

Nthing getting the EC.
posted by brujita at 10:50 PM on June 26, 2010

Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:09 AM on June 27, 2010

According to the natural family planning book, Taking Control of Your Fertility, you are considered safe for the first 3-5 days of your cycle (they advise 3 days if your cycle is 25 days or less). I personally wouldn't bother with the Plan B thing under similar circumstances, but I would not be super upset if I turned up pregnant either (which is why I am going with the rhythm method in the first place). If this is the type of thing that is going to drive you mad over the next 28 days, I agree with the others that the plan B is the way to go. But it is super highly unlikely that you will be pregnant.
P.S. buy some KY Liquid for future encounters with Mr. Thick Penis
posted by smalls at 3:33 AM on June 27, 2010

EC for your sanity's sake. It doesn't make everyone throw up, as some have said. Just take it with food.
If you're going to be having regular sex with a partner and STDs are not a concern, you may want to consider some form of birth control, like the pill or an IUD. Much cheaper in the long run.
posted by ishotjr at 7:04 AM on June 27, 2010

Nthing that no ejaculation + 2 days into a cycle with ovulation around Day 14+ means you are very, very unlikely to be pregnant.
If you do end up getting EC, just be aware that it can mess up your cycle for a few months, making it even more difficult to do ovulation-based fertility predictions-- so you'll definitely want to use proper contraception for the next few encounters.
posted by Bardolph at 7:57 AM on June 27, 2010

FYI if/when you take the EC, be prepared for the possibility of some crazy hormonal moodswings for a couple of days. My one experience taking it, I didn't know what to expect and I thought that I was losing my mind.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:57 PM on June 27, 2010

Just as a counter-opinion, I had no discernible side effects from EC. The newer Plan-B formulation is less side-effect-inducing than some of the older combos.
posted by mercredi at 9:42 AM on June 28, 2010

Doing the math: 30 day cycle - ovulating 14 days before period = fertile around 16th day
40 hours into period = 2nd day.

These numbers are extremely different.

Add to that the lack of evidence for viable sperm in pre-ejaculate, and I'd say you really don't need to worry.
posted by mai at 9:19 AM on June 29, 2010

You should do whatever you need to do to have peace of mind.

The awesome gyno at the student health clinic who I saw as a stupid freshman and then again over ten years later as a grad student said that pre-cum does not contain viable sperm. But, look, when you're dealing with young, sexually active people who are actively trying to avoid getting pregnant here's what you tell them: avoid any kind of unprotected sex at all times. Why? Because one guy's pre-cum and pullout is another guy's "oops! Didn't get out in time!" And that can be solved with the proper use of condoms and/or birth control.

That last bit of advice is just really great advice if you're trying to not get pregnant. It is risky otherwise though in this case, you're probably fine.

But, again, do what you need to do for peace of mind and while you're picking up the scrip, talk to them about birth control and perhaps order a fun pack of condoms online so your guy can try a few different brands until he's happy enough to give it a go, wrapped.
posted by amanda at 7:37 PM on June 30, 2010

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