If you’ve had unprotected sex, forgotten to take your pill or the condom split, you can take emergency contraception, if you act quickly.
Emergency contraception is designed to stop you becoming pregnant if you have had unprotected sex. It is sometimes called the 'morning after pill.’ There are two types of emergency contraceptive pill: Levonorgestrel, which must be taken within three days (72 hours) of unprotected sex, and ellaOne, which must be taken within five days (120 hours) of unprotected sex. However, the earlier you take it the more chance there is that it will stop you becoming pregnant.
It is free from your doctor, a sexual health clinic or family planning clinic, even if you are under 16. You can also get it free from some chemists under the free emergency contraception scheme. The chemist should advertise this in their window.
Another form of emergency contraception is the IUD or coil. This can be fitted up to five days after ovulation, which is when your ovaries release an egg. You will need to see a doctor or a nurse at a sexual health clinic so that they can work out when you may have ovulated.
Read more about emergency contraception on the Brook website.
Getting a pregnancy test
You should do a pregnancy test as soon as possible if you have had unprotected sex and your period is late. You can take a test if your period is already late, or two weeks after you have had sex. If you do a test too soon it may not be accurate.
You might feel scared, but finding out for sure if you are pregnant is a lot better than worrying about it or just ignoring it.
Where to get a test
You can get a test for free at your doctor’s, young person’s clinic or youth advice centre. Some school nurses, personal advisers, youth workers and other support workers can give you a test or tell you the nearest place to go.
You can also buy a pregnancy test from a pharmacy or chemist or the bigger supermarkets for £8 -12, no matter how old you are.
I don’t want anyone to find out
Your visit to your doctor or clinic will be confidential. This means they will not tell your parents or teachers that you have been there, or the results of the test, unless you ask them to. This is the law even if you are under 16.
They will only pass on information about your visit if they think you are in danger – even then they should discuss this with you first.
My test is positive – what should I do?
Facing an unplanned pregnancy can be frightening. You might feel upset and panicked and not sure who to turn to. The best thing you can do is bite the bullet and tell your parents, even if you think they are going to be upset and angry with you. They might be shocked at first but most parents usually come round and do their best to help you.
Who else can I talk to?
Which friends will support you and not gossip behind your back? The best friends to tell are those who will listen without judging and can be trusted not to tell anyone else.
It’s important to talk through your choices with someone who can give you the information you need, like a youth worker or someone at a sexual health clinic.
What does the law say?
The age of consent is 16. However, the law is not there to prosecute you if you are under 16 and have agreed to sex with another young person of a similar age if they have agreed too. It is there to protect young people from abuse and exploitation.
The law states that young people under 16 still have the right to confidential advice on contraception, condoms, pregnancy and abortion.
I’m not sure I want to keep the baby
This is a decision only you can make. Your family, friends, the baby’s father or his family may want to influence what you do, but the final decision is yours.
Abortions are less complicated if you have one in the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. Don’t forget if you go to talk to someone about an abortion, you can still change your mind at any point. If you do decide to choose an abortion you will get support. Again, you can talk to a personal adviser, youth worker or a doctor or nurse from a sexual health clinic. You don’t have to pay for an abortion.
You can also get advice online or over the phone from Brook – the facts about abortion
If you want to go through with the pregnancy but are thinking about having the baby adopted you will need to talk to a social worker before the baby is born. To find out more, contact the adoption team
I have decided to keep the baby. What next?
Read more on what to do next, plus what financial support you can get in I’m having a baby