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The condom broke and now I'm late!

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BarbieDancerx3 asks:

My boyfriend and I had intercourse on Valentine's Day. Well, as he started to ejaculate he told me to get off and I felt him ejaculate on me a little so I told him the condom broke. He told me he went in me a little, but I told him not to worry because it was the day after my period. Well I WAS supposed to get my period on the 7th and now I'm 5 days late! Lately I've been feeling tired, sick (like I'm gonna puke it happens through out the day at least once or more), dizzy, moody, my nipples are bigger (unless they were already that big and I'm now just noticing them), and I've been getting stomach aches. But now I'm starting to get little cramps like I'm going to start my period! Am I going to start soon or do you think I'm pregnant? HELP!

Sarah replies:

Unless you've been charting your fertility (see our article Get with the Flow: All about FAM for more information), it's not really a good idea to think that there's any "safe" period in your cycle where you have less need to worry about pregnancy. Not everybody ovulates on Day 14. Especially in younger women you are more likely to see things like early or late ovulation or sometimes even ovulation more than once in a given cycle. If you haven't been charting, then you don't really have any idea where you might have ovulated in a given cycle. This is even more concerning since sperm can wait around in your reproductive track for days (so they can wait on you to ovulate). Since we don't know when you ovulated, and you did have intercourse where your birth control method (condoms) failed, it is safe to assume that you have had a pregnancy risk from this contact.

Since your period is late, at this point you can definitely take a pregnancy test. You don't have to buy a fancy, digital model; any pregnancy test will do as long as it's been properly stored and is not beyond it's expiration date (which should be printed on the box). If you prefer, you could also call your health care provider, local Planned Parenthood, or other clinic for a pregnancy test. Relying on symptoms to decide whether or not you might be pregnant isn't an effective way to diagnose a pregnancy. Symptoms are notoriously vague and many could be related to any number of other things. For example, if you're feeling nauseated, you might have picked up a touch of the flu or other illness. Also, the side effects of pregnancy typically don't show up until later in a pregnancy (and certainly after you would have missed a period/gotten a positive pregnancy test). Understand that they're mostly related to the impact of various hormonal changes on a woman's body, and the hormone levels take a while to rise (thus you don't have symptoms right away). If you had become pregnant from this contact, you would be less than a month pregnant and probably wouldn't have those symptoms yet. Not all women experience every pregnancy symptom, nor do they experience them at the same time. Also, it's not uncommon when you're worried about being pregnant to be hyper-aware and focused on what your body is doing. So rather than worrying about symptoms right now, how about getting a pregnancy test so that you can get some peace of mind about it one way or the other?

There are other things that can cause a period to be late (or even occasionally missed). You may want to check out our article M.I.A or, Dude, Where's My Period? for more information about late periods. However, since you have had a risk, it's wise to go ahead and test. Since you had a condom failure, it would also be a good idea to get yourself and your partner tested for STIs in the near future (especially if you have not been monogamous for at least 6 months and both tested clear twice, while using barrier methods for all contact).

In the future, it might be time to revisit your chosen birth control method(s) and make sure they're working well enough for you. Condoms are fabulous protection. Like anything else, sometimes failures occur even if we're doing everything else right. You may want to check though and make sure that you're using your condoms correctly (for all genital contact, stored properly, applied properly, with extra condom-safe lube, etc.). Condoms are great because they can be backed up by other birth control methods if you're looking for more protection. They work with both hormonal methods (the pill, patch, injection, or ring) or with non-hormonal methods (like a diaphram or Lea's Shield). If you do want to stick with just condoms, it might also be a good idea to consider what to do if a condom breaks. As was mentioned above, unless you've been charting your fertility (which you certainly could start doing if you wanted to as a backup for your condoms and were committed to doing each day) you won't know when you have bigger pregnancy concerns than others. So you might want to think about keeping a dose of Emergency Contraception on hand for situations like this if becoming pregnant absolutely isn't an option for you right now.

You may also want to take a look at the following links:

written 12 Mar 2008 . updated 26 May 2008

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