What to do if you suspect you are pregnant?
We all know the story, seen it in a thousand movies; woman with a period looks at the calendar and realises that her period is late and she’s possibly pregnant. She panics and buys one of every brand of pregnancy test at the closest pharmacy while drinking litres of liquids. First, take a deep breath and don’t worry.
While a late period can mean you are pregnant, it doesn’t have to mean that you definitely are. Rosie Brennan, the sexual and reproductive health coordinator at Women’s Health in the North, told D*scribe there are many reasons someone’s period might be late. It can be due to stress, illness or because, even in your early 20s, the arrival of your period can still be unreliable and vary.
If you have taken those things into account and you still think that you could be pregnant – knowing that you have had unprotected sex – then you should consider taking a pregnancy test. These can be purchased at various places, such as chemists and supermarkets. The cost of the test can vary from around $10 to $30 with this often depending on how many tests are in each packet.
What do I need to know about taking the test itself?
So, you think that you may be pregnant, you have purchased the test and now you need to know exactly what to do. Well, there are a few things that you should know when it comes to taking a pregnancy test, such as how they work and when to take them.
The way that a pregnancy test works is that they test for the pregnancy hormone found in urine called human Chorionic Gondotrophin (hCG). This hormone is created when a fertilised egg attaches itself to the woman’s uterus wall, and can be detected from six days after fertilisation. Some tests can be more sensitive than others and can therefore detect the pregnancy sooner than others. In order for the most accurate result however, you should wait for two to four weeks from the initial sex.
When you go to take the test, the best time of day is first thing in the morning. This is due to the hCG levels being highest at that time of day. Although tests these days are extremely accurate, you should also consider taking two tests for real peace of mind regarding the results. If you wait the recommended time then there should be a significant decrease in the risk of a false negative, as they are most commonly due to people taking them too early when the hCG levels are too low to detects.
What if I want to discuss all my options?
If you take the test and it turns out that you are pregnant, then you might feel a whole range of different emotions. While this could be the news that some are happily waiting for, for you this could be an entirely unintended and unwelcome pregnancy. If this is your circumstances, then before you panic you need to take a deep breath and remember that you have options.
If termination is the route that you are thinking of choosing, then it is important to get your head around your state’s law. In Victoria, there are two types of abortion, surgical and medical, which are accessible without restriction until 24 weeks. A medical termination (MTOP), available in the first nine weeks of the pregnancy, is brought about by taking two different medications. A surgical abortion is a small procedure to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus using a gentle suction. If you are more than 24 weeks into the pregnancy and in need of an abortion, then you will need two doctors to consider your current and future physical and emotional health and agree that the termination is still appropriate.
It can be intimidating and confusing to seek out these services but what you need to know is that they are available. Firstly, if you trust your usual GP, then you can absolutely discuss the pregnancy and possible outcomes with them. Brennan says there are multiple reasons that someone might not want to do that and will need to seek out other support such as contacting 1800 My Options. This is a phone line and online service aimed at helping you locate the appropriate people to talk to and where abortion services are in your area, as well as giving information on contraception, other sexual and reproductive health issues and relevant Victorian legislation.
“This might be for people who live in rural or regional areas and who have known their GP since childhood, or they are uncertain that their conversation will be kept confidential or non-judgemental,” Brennan says.
This website is especially useful as it helps you access doctors that have shown themselves to be pro-choice and non-judgemental in these circumstances. Unintended pregnancies can be a stressful time in a young woman’s life and it is never made better by doctors who think that we are unable to come to our decision regarding our own healthcare.
It is important to know that if you think an abortion is right for you, Brennan wants to make sure that you find the help that you need.
“If they are judged or told that their termination is wrong or anything like that, always seek a second opinion or another health professional that will be willing to support them,” she says.