Accidents can and do happen, but taking action can help you prevent pregnancy.
Here's the thing about the idea of safe sex: no sex is 100% safe. There is such a thing as practicing safer sex — which includes anything you do to lower your risk of infection or conception — but even if you and your partner do use a condom, accidents happen. A condom that's expired or worn incorrectly can tear or fall off, putting you at greater risk for STIs and — if you're not using another method of birth control — pregnancy. Luckily, if your partner comes inside you and you're not on birth control, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of becoming pregnant.
Pregnancy occurs much more easily than you might think. Even if your partner attempts the pull out method, pregnancy is possible — according to Planned Parenthood, withdrawal results in pregnancy for about one in every five people who use that as their only form of birth control. As Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB/GYN at at Yale-New Haven Hospital and clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine, tells Elite Daily, “If you are not using any form of contraception and ejaculation occurs, the best thing to do is get a morning-after pill.”
Emergency contraceptives (such as Plan B One-Step, which is also sold as Next Choice One Dose) can be taken after unprotected sex to help reduce the risk of pregnancy. And if you’re wondering, “Does Plan B work if he came multiple times?” the answer is yes, as the quantity of semen should be immaterial. “Plan B can be used within 72 hours of having sex to prevent getting pregnancy by 89%," Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women’s health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., previously Elite Daily. "It is most effective when taken within 24 hours of having sex."
All morning-after pills use the same active ingredient as daily birth control pills — a hormone called levonorgestrel — but at a much higher dose, which "works by preventing the release of an egg from the ovary," according to MedlinePlus. The goal of emergency contraception is to prevent or delay ovulation, so that's why it only works if you take it before ovulation has occurred. Plan B should not be used, however, as regular birth control. “[People with vaginas] should use emergency contraception under the following circumstances: Having sex without birth control, a condom breaking, a birth control method failure, such as missing more than three birth control pills in a row, or a partner not pulling out in time," Dr. Ross added.
Morning-after pills aren't the only ways to lower your risk of unwanted pregnancy and, in fact, are not even the most effective method. The copper IUD is actually the most effective means of emergency contraception when inserted within five days of unprotected sex. As well as serving as an effective non-hormonal birth control method, the copper IUD can help prevent conception even after unprotected sex has taken place and has been shown to be 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
As Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D. and host of the Drive Him Wild With Pleasure video course, previously explained to Elite Daily, "...[the copper IUD] is inserted by a medical practitioner into the uterus and the copper changes the way the sperm cells move to reduce the likelihood of their making it to the egg." Copper IUDs release copper into the uterus and fallopian tubes, "which acts as a spermicide," according to Healthline. Of course, this means that only copper IUDs, such as Paragard, are effective as emergency contraception, not hormonal IUDs.
If you miss that three-day window period where emergency contraception can be used effectively and suspect you might be pregnant, you should visit a healthcare provider to determine this for sure. You may also want to take a pregnancy test two weeks after unprotected sex regardless of any bleeding you may have, as emergency contraception can contribute to irregular bleeding that is not a true period.
When it comes to STI testing, Julia T. Huff, a women's health nurse practitioner at New York University, says that the earliest testing should be done is "two weeks after exposure for gonorrhea and chlamydia, 10 days after exposure for syphilis, and four weeks after potential exposure for HIV." She adds, "Syphilis and HIV testing are most accurate 90 days after exposure, though can be detected before then." Therefore, you should plan to see your gynecologist to have testing done both two weeks and three months after unprotected sex, as additional medical risks develop the longer an STI is present and untreated.
Try to practice safe sex, friends, but remember: Accidents can and do happen, but if you take immediate action, you still have a good chance of preventing pregnancy.
Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB/GYN at at Yale-New Haven Hospital
Dr. Sherry A. Ross, women’s health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period.
Julia T. Huff, women's health nurse practitioner at New York University
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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