It’s always clearer in the morning light, isn’t it?
When you’re in the middle of a makeout session that turns into something more, it can be hard to pull away, even if you know you’re not prepared. Or, maybe you came with the right tools, but they malfunctioned at the pivotal moment.
If you’ve recently had unprotected sex, your mind may be swirling with a million questions, regrets, and uncertainties.
Take a deep breath, give yourself a break and read on. Today, we’re sharing six steps you need to take to secure your health and future.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
1. Talk to Your Partner
Sure, you may want to grab your clothes and run out the door before the person on the other side of the bed wakes up.
Yet, this isn’t the time to dash.
Instead, have a conversation with your partner, no matter how awkward that might be. Ask if they have any known sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and when they were last tested.
If you’ve been with this person for a while, the talk should be somewhat painless. If it isn’t, that could be a red flag that you’re not ready to enter the next step in your relationship.
Even if it was a one-night stand, get this information as soon the next day as you can.
2. Don’t Douche
You might be tempted to wash the entire evening off you from the inside out.
As tempting as it might be, don’t douche.
When you do, you upset the normal balance of yeast and bacteria present within your reproductive tract. This won’t increase your chances of pregnancy, but it can lead to a nasty pelvic infection.
Shower off and get clean, but let it stop there.
3. Take Emergency Contraception
If you aren’t already on a reliable form of birth control, you’ll need to obtain emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex.
The most common type is Plan B, taken in pill form. You can take Plan B up to 72 hours after unprotected sex though it’s most effective if you take it within 24 hours.
You can buy this medication over the counter without a prescription, though you might have to ask a pharmacist for help.
While this can be a reassuring backup, understand that one in eight people who take Plan B still end up pregnant. That’s why it’s called Plan B and not Plan A.
After taking it, you may experience abdominal pain, tender breasts, nausea, and fatigue. These symptoms should disappear after a few days.
4. Contact Your OBGYN
Next, call your OBGYN. Schedule a time in the next day or two to come in for an STD screening. No one wants to talk about their sex life to a stranger, but you’ll need to be as up-front and honest about the encounter as you can be.
While the first test is often accurate, there are some cases in which it’s too soon to detect any signs. Schedule follow-up tests for six weeks and six months later to re-test.
Though it’s a recommended measure, you may not wish to involve your healthcare professionals for a host of reasons. In this case, you can pursue confidential STD testing methods to get the answers you need.
While you wait, pay close attention to what’s going on below your belt. Note any changes in discharge, redness, discomfort, irritation or bumps. If any of these symptoms appear, contact your doctor as soon as possible to get checked out.
5. Buy and Take a Pregnancy Test
Though you’ve taken all the steps in your power to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, you should still take a test to make sure.
For the most accurate results, take your test around two weeks after the event. Even if you get a negative reading on your first test, follow up one week later with a second, final test.
Why two tests?
If you’ve taken Plan B, it’s common to experience irregular spotting in the weeks afterward. In fact, you might skip your period altogether that month. As such, it can be difficult to get a true reading on a pregnancy test.
Waiting until the next week can help lower the levels of artificial hormones in your system so the results are more on-point.
6. Plan Better For Next Time
Impassioned lovers slip up. Condoms fail. There are many triggers that can lead to unprotected sex.
Don’t waste time beating yourself up over what happened. Pointing out your shortcomings and missed opportunities can lead to a vicious cycle of shame, self-doubt, and low self-esteem.
Use this as a lesson and strive to make a wiser decision next time. If you’re sexually active, stock up on condoms and find a form of birth control that suits your lifestyle.
If you’re seeing someone, make sure they’re on board with your decision and are as prepared.
Unprotected Sex Isn’t a Jail Sentence
Though doubts and uncertainties may cloud your vision, understand that having unprotected sex doesn’t have to define you.
If you’re prepared enough, you can help quell any potential concerns and mitigate your risks. Talk to your partner, get tested for STDs, take emergency contraception and monitor for signs of pregnancy.
Then, the next time the moment becomes too hot to take protective measures, remind yourself of how you felt the last time. It takes a second to slip on a condom but it can make all the difference for your future.
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