Let us debunk some myths about sex, getting pregnant, and pregnancy.

Can I get pregnant from one act of sex?

The likelihood of becoming pregnant from a single act of unprotected sex (for example, from a one night stand) varies from person to person, and also depends on the stage of a woman's menstrual cycle. The probability is highest around the time of ovulation (when the egg is released), when, on average, up to one third of women will become pregnant from having sex once.

What is the best way to get pregnant?

Many women spend much of their life trying not to get pregnant, and then find that when they actually try to have a baby, it takes longer than they had hoped. If you are trying for a baby and don't get pregnant the first time you try, it is important not to panic. Many perfectly healthy women can take up to a year or more to become pregnant. Though pregnancy is a theoretical possibility any time you have sex, your best chance of getting pregnant will be if you have frequent sex around the time of ovulation. For women with a regular 28-day menstrual cycle, this will be approximately 14 days after the start of their last period, although it can vary from woman to woman. In some countries it may be possible to buy an ovulation testing kit from a chemist to help you work out when you're most fertile.

If a man pulls his penis out before he comes or doesn't put it in all the way, can a woman still get pregnant?

Unfortunately even if a man doesn't insert his penis all the way, or withdraws his penis before ejaculation, a woman can still become pregnant. This is because 'pre-come' (the lubricating fluid that leaks out of a man's penis before and during sex) can contain sperm. If this fluid gets in or around a woman's vagina, it can find its way inside, and she can become pregnant.

Can a woman become pregnant as a result of anal sex?

A woman cannot become pregnant as a result of anal sex directly, although if any sperm leaks from the anus and enters the vagina, pregnancy could occur. Anal sex is therefore not the best way of avoiding pregnancy on a long term basis. It is better to use regular contraception such as the birth control pill or condoms.

Anyone wanting to try anal intercourse should be 100% certain that their partner is willing to try it too, as the idea of anal sex may make some people uncomfortable. It also carries a higher risk of transmission for HIV and other infections, so it is a good idea to use a condom if you do decide to try it.

Can a woman become pregnant through oral sex if she swallows sperm?

No, a woman cannot become pregnant as a result of oral sex even if she swallows. A woman can only become pregnant if sperm get inside her vagina.

Can sperm pass through clothes?

No, generally clothing acts as a barrier against sperm.

Are there any ways to tell if you are pregnant without using a pregnancy test?

The first sign of pregnancy is usually the absence of a period. Other symptoms of pregnancy can include tender breasts, nausea and tiredness but not everybody experiences these. If you suspect you are pregnant you should take a pregnancy test. This can be done at a clinic, or you can buy a home testing kit from most major supermarkets and pharmacies. If you use a home test kit it is important to get the result confirmed by your doctor or healthcare professional at a local clinic.

How long should I wait before carrying out a pregnancy test?

It depends on the type of test you buy. Most tests recommend testing on the day your period is due, although you can buy some that can detect the pregnancy hormone in your urine up to four or five days before this. Make sure you read the instructions thoroughly to find out how long you should wait. If you are not sure when your period is due, the best idea is to wait for at least 10 days after having had unprotected sex before testing (although it is worth remembering that it can take up to nineteen days or more to show a positive result). If you get a negative result but your period still doesn't arrive, you should test again at three-day intervals, until your period starts or you get a positive result. The sooner you find out you are pregnant, the sooner you can start thinking about what to do next.

The pregnancy test result was negative, but my period still hasn't arrived. Could I still be pregnant?

If you have tested too soon (see above), then yes, you might still be pregnant. However if you are sure you haven't tested too soon, then it may well be stress that has delayed your period. Worrying about pregnancy (or anything else) can drive your stress hormones up, and this can in turn interfere with your menstrual cycle. If you have lost or gained a lot of weight recently, have undertaken lots of vigorous exercise or you have irregular periods generally, these could also be to blame. Girls who have only recently started their periods often experience very irregular cycles too, so if you've only been menstruating for a couple of years or less, try not to panic! If your period is more than a week or two late when you're normally regular however, you should probably think about seeing your doctor

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