Sometimes the condom breaks. Sometimes you are too tired, too drunk or too lazy to even use a condom. Sometimes you’re on the pill, but realize you’ve missed a couple days so you might not have been protected from getting pregnant while having sex the night before. I’d like to think every college student is practicing safe sex every time, but I’m not an idiot. Life happens and mistakes get made. Here are some smart things to do after you have a lapse in judgment.
First, you can get emergency contraception. Unless you are on the pill or another form of birth control, this is the first issue to deal with. You only have 5 days or 120 hours after unprotected sex to be able to use this form of protection. There are two types of emergency contraception- morning-after pill and IUD insertion. The morning-after pill prevents ovulation, so an egg won’t be released. It may also thicken the cervical mucus preventing sperm from reaching an egg. It does not cause an abortion. It is used to prevent a pregnancy. Within 5 days of having unprotected sex you can also choose to have an IUD inserted. An IUD is a small device that is inserted directly into the uterus. Once in place, it will prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years after insertion. The morning-after pill will reduce the chance of pregnancy by up to 89% if used within the first 72 hours after having unprotected sex. The sooner you are able to take the pill, the better chances of preventing pregnancy. The morning after pill can not be used long term. You will need to use another form of birth control if you want to prevent pregnancy in the future.
Even if you are using birth control or emergency contraception, you are still at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease or infection. It is best to get tested as soon as possible even if you don’t have any symptoms. How do they test for STI’s? There isn’t just one test for all STI’s. You will have to let your doctor know your sexual practices and any symptoms. Some STI’s are tested by a blood sample, some use a urine sample, and others use a tissue sample. If you have obvious symptoms, it may be easier for your doctor to diagnose through a physical exam. Otherwise, your doctor will send your sample to a lab to be tested, and you will be notified within a few days if you’ve tested positive or not. Sometimes your doctor may ask you to come back to be retested in 6 months because some infections don’t show up right away. Make sure you follow through on getting tested because most people do not show any signs or symptoms of having an STI.
College is about having fun and living in a the moment. However, when it comes to having sex it pays to think ahead and be prepared. Carry a condom with you or have some available in your room or apartment. You can usually get free condoms from your health center on most campuses. Even when you are fully prepared, having sex can be risky. The condom can break. If you aren’t using another form of birth control, don’t hesitate to take emergency contraception. Then get your butt down to Planned Parenthood or your doctor’s office to get tested for any sexually transmitted infections. This way you won’t be at risk to spread any infections to others unknowingly.
If you find that you are pregnant or have an STI, it can be very scary. No one wants to deal with that type of stress on top of all the other stresses in college. However, it can happen. Please seek out help if you aren’t sure about what to do next. Contact the Health or Wellness Center on your campus if you have no where else to go. It is confidential and free. You can also access Counseling Services on your campus as well. A counselor can help you process your feelings and help you figure out what your options are.