Having unprotected sex can lead to many health issues, including vaginal infections and unwanted pregnancies. It only takes one time for sperm to fertilize an egg, so it’s important to get tested as soon as possible.
Women and men should get regular screening for STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, and HIV. These tests can help prevent serious, lasting health issues.
Taking Emergency Contraception Pills
Using protection during sexual activity is the best way to prevent pregnancy and spread of STDs. However, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people forget to use a condom or their method of birth control fails. If this happens, there are safe and effective ways to prevent pregnancy and STIs from occurring, including taking emergency contraceptive pills.
Usually known as the morning-after pill, these hormone-based medications can reduce your chances of becoming pregnant by temporarily blocking sperm from entering the uterus. They are able to be taken up to five days after unprotected sex but are more effective the sooner they are taken. They are available over-the-counter (without a prescription) for girls 17 and older in the US. Plan B One-Step and Next Choice are both available this way, while a newer form of emergency contraceptive pill called Ella (ulipristal acetate) requires a prescription from your doctor.
Watch Louna’s Lowdown on Emergency Contraception to learn more about the different types of morning after pills and how they work. She also explains how to take them properly and when to do so in order for them to be most effective. You can learn more about how to use these methods and find out where to get them at a sexual health clinic. You can also speak to your GP or gynecologist about getting an IUD or requesting the prescription for ulipristal acetate, the most recent type of morning after pill.
Taking an STD Test
It’s important to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) after having unprotected sex. This is so you can receive treatment before the infection reaches the point where you start experiencing symptoms or pass it on to others. It can take a couple of weeks to even a few months before you’ll start seeing or feeling any symptoms, but most STIs can linger in your body and cause lasting damage if not treated.
When you’re ready to get tested, it’s best to wait two weeks after having unprotected sex. That’s the optimal time to give yourself or your partner the most accurate results. All STIs have their own incubation periods, so waiting to test too soon can result in inaccurate results.
You can either schedule an appointment to get tested at an STI clinic or purchase at-home pregnancy tests from a drugstore or supermarket. You can also find free STI and pregnancy testing at many sexual health centers. You may be worried about getting a positive result, but remember that most STIs can be cured or prevented with medication. If your test comes back negative, that’s good news, but you should still make an appointment to get retested a few months later for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. This will ensure that you’re truly cured and can stop worrying about being able to pass on the infection to future partners.
Taking a Pregnancy Test
It is important to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible after unprotected sexual activity. The exact time to take the test depends on several factors, including when the unprotected intercourse occurred. Pregnancy tests are more accurate if they are taken on the day of, or just after, ovulation.
If you are trying to avoid a pregnancy, it is a good idea to use barrier methods (such as condoms or the internal or external coil) during all sex. However, even if you are using barrier methods, sometimes they can break or slip off during sex. If this happens, make sure to use a new condom the next time and test again to confirm that it is effective.
It’s also a good idea to get tested regularly for STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. It can take a few weeks to six months for symptoms to appear after an infection, so getting tested regularly is the best way to protect yourself and your partner.
If you are worried about the cost of testing, call your local health department. They may be able to put you in touch with a sliding-scale testing center that offers lower costs. Many Planned Parenthood centers and community clinics also provide testing at low or no cost. In addition, the AIDS Foundation of New Jersey provides STI and pregnancy testing at their sexual health centers in New Brunswick and Camden.
Whether you were using a barrier method and it failed or you didn’t use anything at all, having unprotected sex means you may be at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It can also mean that the bacteria and viruses from your partner could potentially spread to you.
Condoms are the most effective way to prevent STIs when used correctly. They don’t prevent all STIs, however, especially during oral, anal and vaginal sex, because some of them are passed through body fluids or skin-to-skin contact. Other barriers that can help are dams and barrier lubes, and hormonal methods like the pill, mini-pill or long-acting reversible contraception, or LARC (implants, IUDs, vaginal rings).
You can also get tested for an STI even without a history of unprotected sex. Some STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause uncomfortable symptoms and be hard to tell if you have without a test. But getting tested can prevent an infection from causing any symptoms and keep it from spreading to others.
You can get tested for an STI at most GP surgeries and clinics, but it’s best to go to a specialised centre. They can give you a diagnosis quickly and offer you treatment straight away, which will reduce the chances of it spreading to other people. STIs that aren’t treated can develop into serious, lasting health problems.