A pregnancy scare can be a nightmare for any woman out there despite their age and where they are currently in their life. They can ruminate on their past decisions and worry about getting a positive result in a pregnancy test.
If you’re going through this right now, we have your back. You’re not alone in this moment of fear and uncertainty.
In this article, we’ll discuss what a pregnancy scare is and the common causes of such. We’ll also highlight how to handle and avoid this situation among many more important sections for this guide.
What Is a Pregnancy Scare?
Health News defined a pregnancy scare as “occurs when you worry you might be pregnant before you take a pregnancy test or see a healthcare provider.”
Regardless of age, women can experience one in their lives. In 2011, a survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (now called Power to Decide) showed that around 54% of young women went through a pregnancy scare.
This situation would lead to a lot of emotional distress, especially for those who aren’t prepared to have kids. In addition, pregnancy can change a person’s life and priorities. Hence, apprehension, paranoia, and uncertainty can creep up on them. Reasons why will be explained further in this article.
There are other situations wherein they can sense some pregnancy symptoms. But really, those can be a product of stress or other lifestyle factors. So with all these in mind, the known ways to confirm a pregnancy is through a pregnancy test or consulting with a medical professional as soon as possible.
Or for some cases, they would do both for further confirmation regardless of whether the test comes out positive or negative.
Causes of Pregnancy Scare
Read through this section to learn why we can get a pregnancy scare.
1 Late or Missed Period
This cause of a pregnancy scare may vary per person as everyone has different menstrual cycles. Some can be regular, while others are irregular. It’s advisable to check with your doctor beforehand regarding your menstrual health. With that being said, if your calendar indicates a discrepancy in flow and you just had sexual intercourse, there’s that possibility your period is late or missed.
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between the two! Healthline defines a late period as “7 days past your expected due date” date while a missed period is a late period that goes beyond “6 weeks.”
2 Unprotected Sex
Quite explanatory, this one cause of a pregnancy scare. If you don’t wrap it, the more chances you can get pregnant. And by wrapping it, we refer to barrier methods of contraception such as condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps.
3 Failed Contraception
Even if you use barrier means of contraception, unfortunate things can occur mid-sex. Specifically, the condom can break just as you reach your o’s. Your partner would most likely know that it did after the deed is done, which can get you paranoid and nervous (aka emotional signs of a pregnancy scare). Especially if this was your only means of contraception used.
4 Birth Control-Related Concerns
Birth control is a method or device that can be ingested or used to prevent pregnancy and pregnancy scares. The barrier methods, as mentioned above, are an example of birth control, but we’re focusing more on the hormonal side of birth control. Those are usually ingested or inserted inside you. In this case, some birth-control concerns that can make women antsy about pregnancy are inconsistent following the schedule to take a pill, resulting in missed days.
There are also straight-up forgetting to take a pill that can possibly lead to a pregnancy scare over time. We’ll discuss a bit more on hormonal contraception later on.
Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
Each pregnancy varies per person. Yet these signs and symptoms of pregnancy mentioned below are the most common and can manifest early through the process.
1 Missed Period
We already mentioned this, but it’s still important to highlight this as this is the first thing most women would observe first. And unless you have other medical conditions involved, missing a period would only mean you’re possibly pregnant. Especially if you had sex not so long ago.
2 Nausea/Morning Sickness
This is a pregnancy symptom that affects everyone at different paces and times. Some can have mild to terrible morning sickness. Others can have “morning sickness” at any time of the day. This symptom also results in loss of appetite because the person would have that thinking wherein they’d vomit their food anyways. Plus, that scenario is tiring and painful to tolerate.
3 Breast Changes
Your breasts can become more tender, fuller, and swollen as pregnancy begins. This is due to various hormones mainly for milk production aka. breastfeeding when the baby arrives. The skin of your breast surrounding your nipple darkens, and the veins around it become more evident.
4 Mood Swings
This symptom shares a table with your menstrual cycle and pregnancy. But as for the latter, you can either feel more irritable, excited, or emotional over the small things. A mix of all three is possible too. This is caused by all the raging changes in your hormone levels within your body.
5 Abdominal Cramps
Tommy’s stated that this symptom can be caused by numerous reasons. One can be due to your womb expanding for the baby. Another is the stretching of your ligaments as your bump grows. Constipation and hormones are also more reasons behind your cramps. Some can compare this to menstrual cramps, but it’s always advisable to get it checked by your doctor.
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby under Healthdirect Australia shared that getting headaches during pregnancy is common. Some causes include hormone changes, lack of sleep, stress, and dehydration. They are more prominent during the first few months of pregnancy.
7 Increased Urination
Better Health stated that pregnancy results in “an increase in levels of body fluids and greater kidney efficiency.” Also, pregnancy can make one dehydrated, hence more fluid intake that leads to going to the bathroom often. Hormone changes also have an impact on this symptom.
8 Food Cravings
This symptom of pregnancy can be a heightened liking for the foods you already enjoy before being pregnant. It can also come in peculiar food combinations that no one can imagine. Sometimes, people label it something their pregnancy brain would like. Another result of food cravings is that you may suddenly lose interest in your previously loved food. That’s the worst-case scenario, of course.
In other words, certain food cravings during pregnancy are normal, especially anything with energy.
9 Heightened Sense of Smell
Once again, those pregnancy hormones strike again! According to What to Expect, pregnancy increases smell sensitivity or hyperosmia. That can be due to estrogen affecting how you smell things and making you full-on barf. No wonder having a heightened sense of smell can lead to morning sickness right after a single whiff. And if not morning sickness, you can lose your appetite and/or not favor your favorite dishes.
Better Health shares that fatigue is a strong symptom of pregnancy due to the presence of progesterone. This hormone is “needed to maintain the pregnancy and help the baby to grow, but it also slows your metabolism.”
Another reason here could be anemia, which is caused by iron deficiency. Thus, it’s important to consult with a medical professional on how to go about your pregnancy with this condition.
And most importantly, get lots of sleep!
How to Handle a Pregnancy Scare
This type of scare is no joke. It’s even more alarming that this is a shared, terrifying experience for a woman. Thus, we have a few ways and options on how to navigate your feelings from a pregnancy scare.
1 Step back and take a deep breath.
Having a pregnancy scare when the supposed signs add up can really take a toll on you. That’s because pregnancy would mean that many things will change in your life.
Thoughts such as “I’m not ready”, “I have so much prepared ahead of me”, “Why am I having his baby?” and “The timing is wrong” arise and more, depending on your situation. Then you’d have to tell your family and the potential father. If you aren’t dating the latter, things become more stressful and complicated.
At this point, it’s as if you have the whole world on your shoulders.
But reader, stop right there.
You’re getting over your head and overthinking everything. If you step away from wherever place you are that’s causing you stress, do that. Go outside or to another space where you can catch your breath.
Take deep breaths to calm yourself, and once you’re in a much better headspace, you can make your next move. Also, watch how you treat yourself during this time because stress and anxiety can cause symptoms linked to early pregnancy.
2 Take emergency contraception.
If you got a pregnancy scare not even a day since you had intentional or unintentional unprotected sex, there’s still time to take emergency contraception. There’s the morning-after pill, which is a pill that can be taken 72 hours after the unprotected deed and available OTC. A common brand (and also name) for it is Plan B. This pill contains levonorgestrel, which halts the ovaries from releasing an egg or avoids fertilization from sperm.
Another option of emergency contraception is the IUD or Intrauterine Device, a t-shaped device inserted by a medical professional inside your uterus to avoid pregnancy for years. But at this moment, getting it done within 5 days post-unprotected sex or failed birth control can prevent pregnancy. It’s also removable once you’re ready to have kids one day.
3 Seek support from a trusted companion.
Confiding with a trusted companion, like a friend or family member, can ease your fears. Since pregnancy and parenthood are overwhelming concepts, it’s not something we want to face alone. So with that trusted companion, they can listen to us vent out our worries and provide us with advice from a different perspective. They can also help give you your next steps of action.
4 Check your menstrual cycle.
Everyone’s period is different. There are people with regular periods (21-35 days) to those with irregular periods (less than 21, more than 35), which caused by numerous reasons (lifestyle changes, medical conditions, etc.).
Yet everyone is susceptible to pregnancy scares.
Pregnancy can occur if you do the deed when you’re the most fertile, aka. during ovulation. That can last from 5-6 days.
So as much as possible, you must always track your cycle to understand what’s going on in your body and figure out your ovulation period, when you had your last period, and when it shall occur next. Also, you’ll gain better clarity if you’re late or missed a period.
5 Watch out for any pregnancy symptoms.
In the previous section, we shared the common signs and symptoms of pregnancy. Getting a pregnancy scare goes beyond having discrepancies in your period, so take this time to observe and monitor your physical and emotional health before concluding a possible pregnancy scare.
6 Take a pregnancy test.
As you observe your health, as mentioned in the previous point, this tip is the final resort if those symptoms are far too close and linked to pregnancy. Or maybe you skipped a few steps and already want to know the pregnancy scare is just a scare.
Just don’t take the test right after the unprotected deed because it’s inaccurate; give it a week. Healthline shares that there’s insufficient “human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) — the pregnancy hormone — built up in your system for the test to detect.”
A pregnancy test can be purchased in your local drugstore, supermarket, and convenience store. If there’s more than one brand available, most people would stock up to maximize their choices and get better clarity. Follow the instructions provided in each box, wherein usually you urinate on the stick, then wait for a few minutes for the results. If you bought more than one pregnancy test, hydrate beforehand for more urine for the tests.
The Results Are In!
Upon close monitoring, most women would first take a pregnancy test upon having a pregnancy scare. Either that or pray for their period to come immediately. Regardless, there are two results you can get in this test, and we have some vital options to consider per result.
As you flip the pregnancy test over after minutes of waiting, you see a plus sign, two lines, or flat-out “pregnant” as a result. The pregnancy scare has become a reality for you. Various emotions are flowing in as you’re wondering about your next steps.
One is that you can retake the test in a day or two since getting a false-positive is possible. However, remember that most pregnancy tests are trustworthy upon their usage.
The next step here would be to visit a medical professional to confirm the results, which can be through a urine or blood test.
If any of those tests confirm you’re pregnant, you have options on what to do with the baby.
One, you can keep the baby. Even if the occurrence wasn’t planned, you’d keep an open mind and welcome them no matter what. If you and the father are together, telling them as early as possible is crucial. But if not, it’s still important to inform them. And whatever reaction they give, stand your ground that you’ll keep the child.
Two, you can set the baby up for adoption. You’ll still push through with the pregnancy, but once the baby is born, they’ll be adopted by another family. In the Philippines, there’s a legal adoption program under the DSWD. This can occur when you’re not ready for the responsibilities of taking care of a child yet find that terminating the fetus is too drastic.
Speaking of which, that leads us to our last option. In other countries, abortion is another option to consider when a pregnancy scare turns into an unintended pregnancy. In the Philippines, abortion is illegal to go through and practice.
As you consider and reflect on the possible options, remember that there’s no “right” decision to follow. Do what will benefit you the most now, and let your doctor know your choice as well. That way, they can help navigate your succeeding steps.
Also an additional tip: follow the legal laws in your area.
Definitely the top result women want from their pregnancy test after getting that pregnancy scare.
When you get a negative result in your pregnancy test, most women leave it at that and move on. Some even celebrate it as a small win, treating themselves after. But at the same time, they take this period as a learning experience to make smarter decisions on sex.
Some women may still want to see a medical professional. Some want to get extra tests related to pregnancy or why they don’t have their period. Others seek their knowledge on contraception to know which one can fit their lifestyle better. Whether it be to switch from one method of birth control to another or prescribe them an overall new birth control method.
Then if a pregnancy scare was something that emotionally took a toll on you, seeing a therapist to talk through your feelings is vital.
How to Prevent a Pregnancy Scare
Getting one pregnancy scare in your life should be enough to wake your senses up and make better decisions moving forward. With that, we gathered our top tips for preventing another pregnancy scare in the future.
1 Maximize your options for contraception.
Safe sex is great sex. That way, pregnancy scares won’t come close to you.
There are numerous options for hormonal birth control, so preferably with help from a medical professional, choose an option that works best for you and your current lifestyle. Ensure to follow the schedule; set notifications or reminders around you so you won’t forget to take a pill.
Alongside that, involve condoms or any barrier methods. You should be educated further on how to use any of them so it won’t break. Plus, always check the quality of those products. Ensure that they aren’t loose, damaged, or expired before usage. And please, don’t do the withdrawal method either. Pulling it out before climax doesn’t have a high effectivity rate to avoid pregnancy.
If your partner is allergic to latex condoms, there are latex-free options to browse through and consider before doing the deed again.
A bonus method you can try here is following the Calendar Method. It’s actually a natural family planning method, but it can also provide clearer insight regarding your fertile days.
2 Visit your doctor regularly.
It’s always good to check in with your doctor regarding your reproductive and sexual health, especially when birth control is involved and you’re sexually active. Aside from getting a pregnancy scare, getting STDs is another effect of unprotected sex. Thus, using barrier methods of birth control should always be in the equation when having sex.
Additionally, regular doctor visitations allow you to be more educated and well-versed about your health status and get instant answers about any concerns you may have.
3 Know your menstrual cycle well.
This step is yours and yours alone. You can seek help from a doctor like in the previous point, but at the end of the day, only you would be familiar with your menstrual cycle. Knowledge is power; in this case, you’d be acquainted with how your cycle works. You’ll eventually track your fertile days easier, whether your period is regular or irregular. From there, those would be the days you’ll avoid sex and decrease your chances of getting a pregnancy scare.
4 Abstain from sex momentarily.
Getting a pregnancy scare can really scar someone for a long period of time. For that, it’s best not to act on any sexual urges that may arise aka. sexual abstinence. Recover from the emotional challenges from the pregnancy scare by seeing a professional or committing to your other interests and hobbies.
There’s more to life than sex, after all.
5 Do outercourse instead.
If you’re still eager to do the deed after getting a pregnancy scare, a much safer route you can go for is outercourse. That varies from cunnilingus, blow job, thigh riding, fingering, dry humping, and more. Any sexual activity that doesn’t involve penetration, especially vaginal, counts as outercourse. Oh, and using sex toys from us is counted too!
A pregnancy scare is a daunting, universal experience women go through at least once in their life. It can be due to the misusage of contraception or a late/missed period, among many others. Regardless of this, there are numerous options and ways to take action from this experience. There are also people in your life who’ll stay by your side.
In other words, you are not alone, and you’ll get through this emotionally stressful time.