We want you to be able to make an informed decision, no matter what option you may choose. The information in these pages can help you think through your options.
Not Sure You’re Pregnant?
If you have just had unprotected sex you may not yet be pregnant. Emergency contraception is not abortion, but taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex can prevent pregnancy. Learn more at not-2-late.com (not affiliated with NAF).
If you suspect that you are pregnant, it is best to find out right away. The sooner you know, the more time you will have to make choices about what you want to do.
- Missed periods
- Periods with a lighter flow or shorter duration than usual
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Frequent urination
- Changes in appetite
- Feeling bloated and/or crampy
- Changes in digestion (constipation, heartburn, etc.)
- Abdominal enlargement
- Clothes feel tighter
- Mood changes
If you have some or all of these symptoms, it does not mean you are definitely pregnant. You can also be pregnant and have none of these symptoms. The only way to be certain is to take a pregnancy test.
Pregnancy tests are widely available at a variety of health care facilities, drug stores, and some grocery stores. They may be low-cost or free at some locations, including health departments or free clinics. Beware that anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” often offer free pregnancy testing, but these centers are fake clinics masquerading as legitimate health care facilities. When used according to the directions, pregnancy tests are 97-99% accurate starting on the first day after a woman misses her period. Always check the expiration date of a home pregnancy test before you use it – if it is past the expiration date, it may not be accurate.
There is a hormone that is present in your urine and blood only when you are pregnant. This hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (also called the pregnancy hormone) is what all pregnancy tests detect.
There Are Two Kinds of Pregnancy Tests:
- Urine tests detect the pregnancy hormone in your urine.
- Blood tests, which can only be administered in a doctor’s office or clinic, detect the pregnancy hormone in your blood.
Health Care Providers Offer Three Different Kinds of Tests:
- A urine test is the test most frequently used both as a home pregnancy test and in a health care setting.
- A qualitative hCG blood test (also known as a qualitative beta hCG test) tests whether or not you have the pregnancy hormone in your blood. It is similar to a urine test in that it tells you if you are pregnant or not.
- A quantitative blood test (also known as a quantitative beta hCG test) measures how much of the pregnancy hormone is in your blood.
Home Pregnancy Tests Have Some Advantages:
- They are easy to use
- They are inexpensive
- They can be performed in the privacy of your own home
If you take a home pregnancy test very early in your pregnancy, there may not be enough of the pregnancy hormone in your urine to trigger a positive test result. If you think you are pregnant and your home pregnancy test comes back negative, try it again in a few days. If you continue to have negative tests but you think you are pregnant, or if you take a home pregnancy test and it comes back positive, you should arrange to see your health care provider.
A normal pregnancy is one where the embryo implants in a woman’s uterus. An ectopic, or “tubal” pregnancy is one where the embryo implants somewhere other than in the uterus. Most commonly, an ectopic pregnancy implants in a woman’s fallopian tube (one of the tubes leading from the ovary to the uterus.) Ectopic pregnancy is commonly diagnosed when a woman has a positive pregnancy test but an ultrasound doesn’t show a pregnancy in the uterus when it should be visible. A health care provider might also suspect an ectopic pregnancy based on a pelvic exam or symptoms the woman is having, such as one-sided pain.
Ectopic pregnancy is a medical condition which must be treated by a medical professional. Without treatment, the fallopian tube may rupture, which can result in serious injury or death. The usual treatment for an ectopic pregnancy that is detected early is methotrexate. It is not possible to carry an ectopic pregnancy to term.
Once a woman knows she’s pregnant, it is important to measure how far along her pregnancy is. This will have an impact on your options, as certain methods of abortion are available only in specific time-frames. It will also help you know how much time you have to make your decision.
Health professionals usually measure a pregnancy in terms of the time that has passed since the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period (abbreviated as LMP). If you go to a clinic, they may use an ultrasound machine or a physical exam to establish how far along you are.