Could I be pregnant? Important things to know.
Here, Kids Help Phone shares information about the possibility of pregnancy, emergency contraception, pregnancy tests and your options.
Throughout this content piece, Kids Help Phone uses the terms people assigned female at birth and people assigned male at birth to refer to individuals who are born with certain sex organs, hormones and/or chromosomes. However, it’s important to note that people may have a different gender identity than the sex assigned to them at birth. As well, people may use different words for their body parts than those used in this piece. Kids Help Phone supports everyone in using whatever terms fit best for them.
Most people assigned female at birth who have periods (menstruate) are capable of becoming pregnant. Pregnancy can occur from having sex with a person assigned male at birth that releases sperm. Sperm needs to be released inside of or close to the opening of a vagina in order to potentially cause pregnancy.
If you think you may be pregnant, it’s important to find out for sure. This can help you have peace of mind and help you decide how to move forward. First, consider the following:
- Is your period usually regular?
- When was your last sexual contact that could cause pregnancy?
- Did your partner ejaculate (come) near or inside of your vagina?
- Did you use birth control?
If you had sex that could cause pregnancy and used birth control properly (i.e. you followed the instructions for your preferred birth control method exactly) and with no failure (e.g. a condom breaking), your chances of being pregnant are low.
If you had sex that could cause pregnancy without using birth control or if there was birth control failure (e.g. a condom breaking), there’s a chance you may be pregnant.
If you had sex that could cause pregnancy and your period is late and/or you’re experiencing other pregnancy symptoms (see below for a list), there’s a chance you may be pregnant.
Keep in mind other things can affect your cycle, such as stress or hormonal birth control (e.g. the pill, the patch, contraceptive ring, etc.). If you think you may be pregnant, you can take an at-home pregnancy test or visit a doctor/nurse for a pregnancy test and/or exam to be certain.
What is emergency contraception?
Emergency contraception is a product you can use soon after having sex that could cause pregnancy to help prevent pregnancy, if you’re not planning on having a baby right now. For example, emergency contraception can be used if:
- a condom broke, slipped or leaked
- birth control was not used
- a dose of hormonal birth control was missed
Emergency contraception can also be used if a person may become pregnant after a sexual assault.
There are different types of emergency contraception available. You can find some forms of emergency contraception at pharmacies and sexual health clinics without a prescription (e.g. the morning-after pill). Other forms of emergency contraception may require a prescription and/or assistance from a doctor/nurse.
It’s important to know emergency contraception has limitations. For example, it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It’s also not as effective at preventing pregnancy as things like hormonal birth control and barrier methods such as condoms. You can talk to a health-care professional to find out if emergency contraception will work for you, the best option for you and for more information about your sexual health.
What are the signs of pregnancy?
Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy may include:
- period changes (late, light or no periods at all)
- spotting/brownish bleeding between periods
- sensitive/painful/swollen breasts
- dizzy spells
- abdominal cramping
- sensitivity to certain smells
- cravings for certain foods and/or a dislike of some foods usually liked
Symptoms later on in pregnancy may include:
- weight gain
- an extended stomach
- abdominal cramping
- a feeling of movement in your stomach
- a frequent desire to urinate
Where can I get a pregnancy test?
If you think you may be pregnant, you can take a pregnancy test. You can get a pregnancy test from:
- a doctor/nurse: you can visit a doctor/nurse at a doctor’s office, a walk-in clinic or a sexual health clinic for a pregnancy test. Sometimes, doctors may send you to a lab for a pregnancy test. The test may be free, but it depends on the province/territory you live in and where you get the test done.
- a pharmacy: you can buy an at-home pregnancy test at most pharmacies. You don’t need a prescription or a parent/caregiver’s permission to purchase a test.
It’s important to think about the timing of your last sexual contact that could cause pregnancy and your period’s cycle before taking a pregnancy test. (For example, try to wait until after a missed period before taking a test — otherwise, it may not be accurate.)
What are my options?
If a pregnancy test and/or exam confirms you’re pregnant, it’s important to know you have options. Your choices may include:
- continue with the pregnancy and keep the baby
- continue with the pregnancy and place the baby for adoption
- have a medical or surgical abortion
Choosing the best option for yourself is a very personal decision only you can make. Remember, you’re in control of your body.
Here are some things to think about:
- How did you react when you found out you were pregnant?
- Is being pregnant an option for you?
- Is keeping the baby an option for you?
- Is having an abortion an option for you?
- Is choosing adoption an option for you?
- What resources do you have to help with the result of your decision (e.g. emotional, financial, etc.)?
- Who would support you in your decision?
- Do you want anyone else involved in your decision?
It’s important to talk to someone you trust about your options. This could be a friend or a safe adult, such as a health-care professional or counsellor. They can help you weigh the pros/cons. Remember, you have the power to make the decision that’s best for you.
What do I need to know about abortion?
Abortion is legal in Canada. In many cases, you don’t need a parent/caregiver’s permission to have an abortion. Talking to a health-care professional about confidentiality, consent for medical treatment and health rights is one way to better understand how to get an abortion in your province or territory.
There are two different types of abortion available. Surgical abortion is when a doctor removes the contents of your uterus during a procedure at a hospital or clinic. Medical abortion is a medicine (usually a pill, but sometimes an injection) you take in two stages, following a doctor’s directions.
Abortions may be covered by the provincial or territorial health insurance plan where you live. There may be restrictions depending on the type of abortion you’re looking for, where you get it and how long you’ve lived in the province/territory. Some health-care providers can help you find subsidies for uninsured abortions.
If you live in a rural/remote area, it may be difficult to find a hospital or clinic that performs abortions. Some health-care providers can help you find subsidies to travel to a location that does perform them. Resources Around Me can help you find health-care services, including sexual health programs, near you.
Knowing your options when it comes to pregnancy is important. If you have questions or concerns about pregnancy, you can reach out to a doctor/nurse or sexual health clinic for more information and support.