Skip to main content

He pulled out, but now I'm late

Share |
Candy asks:

Hey, I had my last period on the 8th of April. My boyfriend and I had sex on the April 21st, but he pulled out before he came. Now, I'm 2 days late for my period! I am freaking out big time, could I be pregnant? I checked the net for all the early pregnancy symptoms but none of them apply to me. I've noticed that the past week I've not had a lot of the usual discharge, but on the day my period was due I did have a lot of white discharge and the next day as well. Please reassure me! When should I really panic?

Sarah replies:

Well, panic doesn't really do anybody any good, so I'd advise not spending your time in a panic period.

However, based on what you described you do have both a pregnancy risk and an STI risk. Withdrawal (or "pulling out") is not really a good method of birth control. (Our own founder, Heather, is the product of "perfectly practiced" withdrawal.) Pre-ejaculate is released throughout the course of an erection, isn't something you would notice during intercourse, and can contain sperm. Also, it's not always possible for a guy to pull out before any ejaculation occurs at all. Ejaculation and orgasm can happen separately, so your partner could have had some ejaculation before he felt the need to pull out. Again, this is something you wouldn't necessarily know was happening during intercourse. And obviously pulling out offers you no protection from STI transmission.

Early pregnancy "symptoms" are also a notoriously unreliable way to diagnose a pregnancy. If you do have some of those early symptoms, most could easily be related to any number of other conditions. For example, sometimes people talk about morning sickness as a classic early pregnancy symptom. Feeling ill could be a stomach bug or maybe you had some bad food the day before or maybe you're even so nervous about the possibility of pregnancy that you feel sick! Also, not every woman experiences the same symptoms nor do they occur at the same time for everybody. And finally, it generally takes more than a few days-week after conception for any symptoms that are going to show up to show. Remember that the symptoms are caused by the increasing levels of hormones in the body of a pregnant woman and it takes a certain amount of time for the levels to rise to a level that would be sufficient to cause any changes. Generally, symptoms that can definitively be linked to pregnancy are not going to show up prior to the time when you could have either gotten a positive pregnancy test and/or missed your period. Your discharge isn't going to tell you whether you're pregnant at this time or not. Discharge changes normally throughout the normal menstrual cycle. Pregnant women may notice discharge changes throughout pregnancy, but again this is not going to happen right away nor is it going to be exactly the same for everybody.

So what can you do right now? Well, since your period is late you can certainly take a pregnancy test. They are easily available at your local drug store/grocery store/chemist/big-box retailer. You don't have to buy the most expensive or fanciest digital available, any test will do as long as the packaging is intact, it is not beyond it's expiration date, and you follow the directions. Tests labeled for "early" responses will be more sensitive than others (this means that they are set to check for lower levels of hCG). This does not mean that other tests won't give you accurate results, just that they might take longer to do so. Again, check the box instructions for more information. Generic or store brand tests are just fine (so you don't have to spring for the name brand if cash is tight). You can re-test in a week to verify the results if your period still hasn't shown up. You can also head to your health care provider, clinic, or local Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test. Since you've had unprotected contact, it would also be wise to go ahead and schedule a full STI screening as well. If you do receive a positive pregnancy test (either at home or from your health care provider), you'll need to see your provider to talk about your options and make decisions about what to do next. If you plan to continue a pregnancy (either with the intention of parenting or adoption), you will need prenatal care and the earlier you start that, the better for both of you. If you plan to abort, you only have a certain amount of time in which to make that decision (and, depending upon your specific location and situation, you may have other concerns such as parental notification/permission to deal with that can take time). Your provider can also counsel you about birth control options for the future to prevent similar situations.

If you haven't had a conversation with your partner about protection, it sounds like now would be a good time to do so. As I said, withdrawal is not a good method of pregnancy or STI prevention. It's a bit like playing Russian Roulette...eventually you're probably going to lose. So sitting down now and talking about what methods you are comfortable with and want to use is a good step in ensuring your continuing health.

You may want to check out the following links for more information:

written 07 May 2008 . updated 26 May 2008

More like This

Worried about a possible pregnancy? You're not alone: most people who've had sex that presents a risk of pregnancy (or who have been sexually assaulted) have experienced a scare at some point. Heck...

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.