Emergency contraception, pregnancy tests & abortion

If you think you may be pregnant, you do have options. Support is available if you need it.

If you think you may be pregnant, the first thing to do is to find out for sure. You can take a pregnancy test or speak to a doctor to learn more. If you need to talk, you can reach out to a safe adult or contact a Kids Help Phone counsellor at 1-800-668-6868.

If you think you may be pregnant, consider the following:

  • Is your period (menstrual cycle) usually very regular?
  • When was your last sexual contact?
  • Was there vaginal penetration?
  • Did your partner ejaculate (come) near or inside your vagina?
  • Did you use contraception (birth control)?

If you had sex and used contraception with no accidents, your chances of being pregnant are very small. However, if you had unprotected sex and your period is now late or much lighter than usual, there is a chance you might be pregnant. Keep in mind other things can affect your cycle, such as stress or hormonal birth control (such as the pill, patch or ring). If you’re unsure, you should take a pregnancy test to be certain.

Emergency contraception

You can take the morning after pill up to three days after having sex to help prevent pregnancy. The morning after pill is available in Canada from pharmacies and sexual health centres without a prescription.

The morning after pill can be used if:

  • you didn’t use any form of birth control
  • you missed your pill, patch or ring
  • the condom slipped, ripped or leaked

Emergency contraceptives don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They’re less effective than other birth control methods and should not be the only form of protection that you use. It’s also important to know that emergency contraceptives are less effective for individuals who weigh 165-176 pounds and are not effective for individuals who weigh more than 176 pounds. Those weighing more than 165 pounds are encouraged to talk to a doctor or pharmacist for advice on alternative emergency contraception methods.

Pregnancy tests

If you’ve had sex and you haven’t had your period when you expected it, you may want to take a pregnancy test. You can get a pregnancy test from:

  • A doctor or medical walk-in clinic: sometimes, doctors will send you to a lab that conducts pregnancy tests. The tests may be free, but it depends on the province you live in and where you get the test done.
  • A pharmacy/drugstore: you can buy an at-home pregnancy test kit for between $15 and $25.

You should wait at least five to seven days after your period is late before taking a pregnancy test — otherwise, it may not be accurate.

Pregnancy symptoms

Early signs of pregnancy include:

  • periods (menstruation) stop
  • spotting/brownish bleeding between periods
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • sensitive/painful/swollen breasts
  • dizzy spells
  • sensitivity to certain odours
  • cravings for certain foods and a dislike of some foods usually liked

Later on, most pregnant women experience:

  • weight gain
  • extended stomach
  • lower stomach cramps
  • movement
  • a frequent desire to urinate

If you think you may be pregnant, you can talk to a doctor or safe adult. You can always call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

Know your options

If you are pregnant, your options can include:

  • carry the pregnancy to term and raise the child
  • carry the pregnancy to term and place the child for adoption
  • medical or surgical abortion

Choosing the best option for you is a very personal decision that may affect you physically, emotionally and psychologically. Your decision may also impact other people in your life.

Here are some things to consider:

  • How did you react when you found out you were pregnant?
  • Do you want to keep the baby?
  • Is it possible at this stage in your life to carry out this pregnancy?
  • What resources do you have to care for a child?
  • Would your family or support network help you?
  • Do you want the child’s other parent involved in caring for or supporting the child?
  • Is abortion an option for you?
  • Is adoption an option for you?

You can talk to a safe adult about your options. You can always call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.

Abortion

Abortion is legal in Canada. You don’t need a parent’s or caregiver’s permission in most cases. Whatever health services you seek are kept private between you and the health-care provider.

Surgical abortion is when a doctor removes the contents of your uterus. Medical abortion is a medicine (usually a pill, but sometimes an injection) that you take in two stages at a doctor’s office, following a doctor’s directions.

In some provinces, you must be of a certain age to have a surgical abortion in a hospital. If you’re underage in your province, you can still access an abortion at a clinic instead of a hospital, if your province has a clinic that performs them. Doctors, clinics and hospitals use their best judgment about what age women have to be to consent to an abortion.

Surgical abortion is usually covered by your provincial health-care plan. There may be restrictions depending on the type of abortion and how long you’ve lived in the province.

If you live in a rural area, it can be difficult to find a hospital or clinic that performs abortions. Some clinics can help you find travel subsidies to fly to an urban hospital. Resources Around Me can help you find a doctor or clinic in your area.


If you would like to know more about this topic, you can connect with a counsellor by phone or Live Chat.

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