Can I Get Pregnant If...

Our 1-800-SEX-SENSE Line receives lots of questions from people wondering "can I get pregnant if...." Here you'll find answers to common questions about how a pregnancy can occur. If you have any other questions, call us at 1-800-SEX-SENSE (1-800-739-7367) or 604-731-7803 in the lower mainland, or send us an email at sexsense@optbc.org.

Can I Get Pregnant If...

We've never had intercourse (sex)?

Yes, but it is rare. If semen or pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) comes into contact with the opening of the vagina or the vulva, the sperm may survive and travel up the vaginal canal, through the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. If a person is ovulating, or about to ovulate, there is a possibility that the sperm can fertilize an egg in the fallopian tubes, resulting in pregnancy. The best way to keep sperm from fertilizing an egg cell is to make sure that no semen comes in contact with the genitals (vulva and vaginal opening). For more information about various methods of preventing pregnancy (birth control options), click here.

We have anal sex?

The anus is part of the digestive system. This system begins in a person's mouth, and ends with the anus. Since the reproductive system and the digestive system are not connected, sperm that enters the anus cannot swim through the body to reach an egg cell in the reproductive system.

It is possible to get pregnant if someone has anal intercourse and the semen or ejaculate leaks out of the anus and into the vagina; or if ejaculated semen is near the opening of the vagina and that semen happens to work its way deep into the vaginal opening. So if the person who ejaculates does not wear a condom, or it slips off, or is worn incorrectly, there is a chance that some sperm may get into the vagina and a pregnancy could occur.

For tips on safer anal sex, click here.

We have oral sex?

There is no risk of pregnancy associated with oral sex. This is because when semen enters the mouth and is swallowed (which is not a necessary step), it enters the digestive system. The digestive system is completely separate from the reproductive system, which is the part of the body responsible for pregnancy. For some tips on safer oral sex, click here.

When the person is having their period/monthly bleed?

Yes, this is technically possible, and has to do with the life cycle of the sperm and egg cells. The egg cell can live for about 24 hours after it has been released from the ovary (this is called ovulation). On the other hand, sperm can live from five to seven days inside of a vagina, particularly in the presence of fertile cervical fluid (this looks like egg-white).

Sometimes, fertile cervical fluid can be present towards the end of someone's period. Since sperm can live up to seven days in this fluid, it is possible for pregnancy to occur if they ovulate within that time frame. For example, if someone has unprotected sex on Sunday and still has their period with some fertile cervical mucous present, sperm can live in their body until the following Saturday. If they ovulate during that week, there could be sperm available to fertilize the egg, which could result in pregnancy.

From sitting in a hot tub?

Sometimes people are worried that they could possibly get pregnant from sitting in a hot tub that someone may have ejaculated in. The good news is that sperm die once they hit the hot tub water, before they could reach someone's vulva and vagina.

However, having actual intercourse in a hot tub, hot shower, or in any kind of watery environment does not protect against pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

Even if I have used the Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP)?

Yes; emergency contraception lowers the risk, but does not completely eliminate it. 

The Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) usually refers to a progestin pill like Plan B, Contingency 1, Norlevo, Next Choice, or Option 2. These pills can prevent a pregnancy from occurring if taken within five days after having unprotected sex (or any other incident that might result in sperm entering the vagina), but the sooner someone takes them after sex the more likely they are to work.

Plan B and other pills like it can reduce the risk of pregnancy by approximately 50%. They will not work if someone is already pregnant or if too much time went by after unprotected intercourse.

A prescription is not needed to purchase emergency pills like Plan B. They are available for free at youth clinics, or at low cost at Options for Sexual Health clinics, walk in clinics, and doctor's offices. They are also available from a pharmacy without a prescription for approximately $40.

There is also a new kind of emergency contraceptive pill available in Canada called Ella. It is available by prescription and can also be taken up to 5 days after sex. It is approximately 60% effective and does not lose effectiveness as quickly over time as progestin based emergency pills like Plan B.

If someone has had unprotected sex, and is concerned about the risk of pregnancy, an emergency insertion of a copper IUD is the most effective method of emergency contraception (99% effective when inserted up to 7 days after unprotected intercourse). For more information on emergency IUD insertion click here

To learn more about Emergency Contraception please see: https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/birth-control-pregnancy/emergency-contraception-ecp

It's the first time we have sex?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to become pregnant after having vaginal sex for the first time. It has been a long standing myth that someone cannot get pregnant the first time they have sex, and this has led to many unplanned pregnancies.

Anytime a person with sperm and person with an ovum (egg cell) have penis-vagina intercourse, it is possible for pregnancy to occur - all that needs to happen is for a sperm to get to an egg cell. The risk of pregnancy is greatly reduced through the use of birth control.

If the partner pulls out before they ejaculate?

Yes. This is called the withdrawal method of birth control, but it is only ~73% effective in actual use because the person with a penis may not pull out in time before ejaculating; also, there may be sperm in the drops of fluid that comes out of the penis before ejaculation (pre-cum).

It is more likely that sperm will be present in pre-ejaculate if a man has ejaculated in the last few hours. This is because leftover sperm may still be present in the urethra. If ejaculation has occurred prior to intercourse, the person who ejaculated should urinate and wipe off the tip of their penis before intercourse to remove any sperm from the previous ejaculation, as sperm could have been trapped in the urethral lining or folds of skin and can therefore be present when subsequent acts of intercourse take place.

The person with a vulva is on top?

No matter what position a couple is having sex in, if ejaculate enters into the vagina, there is the possibility of pregnancy. The effect of gravity will not affect a person's risk of pregnancy. However, couples can enjoy sex in any position that feels good for them and use condoms and other methods of birth control to prevent a pregnancy from occurring.

From masturbating?

Thankfully, no! Pregnancy can only occur if there is sperm to meet the egg cell. By touching genitals for pleasure with hands or toys, someone is not at risk for becoming pregnant (unless there is fresh wet ejaculate that has been recently ejaculated onto their hand or toy).