Sex (Re)Education: So You Had Unprotected Sex
For a myriad of reasons, sometimes unprotected sex happens. Rather than scare you half to death with the possibilities of what may come (which may have happened in your sex ed class), we’re here to help you figure out, well, what now?
First things first, if you had unprotected sex and you’re at risk for getting pregnant you should look into going to a pharmacy and picking up some emergency contraception. Products like ella, Plan B one step, and Next Choice are all effective options when it comes to preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex. Some key difference exist between these medications.
Ella will prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex, while Plan B and Next Choice can be used on the 4th or 5th day, it is considerably less effective and is best used up to three days after unprotected sex. Another important factor to consider when choosing which emergency contraception to use is BMI. Also known as you Body Mass Index, BMI measures body fat in relation to height at weight. If your BMI is over 25, Plan B and Next Choice are less effective. Ella is less effective for women with a BMI over 35. You can calculate your BMI here to see which option will be the most effective for you.
If you were on birth control when you had unprotected sex, and you take it correctly and regularly, chances are you’ll be fine and you won’t need emergency contraception. If you don’t have to worry about pregnancy (in other words, you weren’t having heterosexual sex) then you can skip to step two of unprotected sex damage control.
After unprotected sex you should make an appointment and visit your doctor to get tested for STIs. Keep in mind that many STIs have a window of time where they won’t show up on tests. So make your you speak to your doctor about exactly when you had unprotected sex so you can get the most accurate test results. After getting test results you should, when possible, follow up with your partner(s), and let them know the outcomes. If you’ve contracted and STI it’s important to let your partner(s) know so they won’t unknowingly spread the infection to others.
Although dealing with unprotected sex can be scary, it’s important to understand that not all “unprotected sex” warrants a major freak out. If you’re having “unprotected sex” with a long term partner, you probably aren’t going to go to need to be calling your doctor up and getting tested after you have sex each times. However, you should be honest with your partner– and they need to be honest with you as well– about whether or not they are seeing other people, and if you are the only person they are practicing “unprotected sex” with. You should also be seeing your doctor on a regular basis, and continue getting tested for STIs.
If you’re scared about contracting an STI, on some level, you should be. It is important to take sexual health seriously. On another level, many STIs are curable when you receive the necessary treatment. So don’t let the stigma stop you from getting tested and getting treated.
Sex (Re)Education is a weekly series in which we debunk myths you learned during sex education back in grade school and high school.