These are Frequently Asked Questions that Nurse Kathy answers.

The following questions are about contraception, pregnancy and STD's. Please scroll down to view all the questions.


CONTRACEPTION

Can I get the pill with out my parents knowing?

How long does it take for the pill or Depo-Provera (the shot) to work?

If I become pregnant while on the pill or on Depo-Provera will it harm my baby?

Is it true that you can use the pill to skip your period?

Is the withdrawal method an effective form of birth control?

Do antibiotics affect the pill?

I am a male interested in the effects of sterelization (vasectomy). Can you tell me the costs, and how effective this is?

I am a female interested in the effects of sterilization (tubal occlusion). Can you tell me the costs, and how effective this is?

I am trying to learn more about my body's cycles so I can seek/avoid pregnancy. Are there natural methods that I can use?

If I stop taking the pill how long should I wait until I can conceive?

If I stop taking Depo-Provera, how long should I wait until I can conceive?


What is SelectPlan for Women?

SelectPlan for Women is a program that is available to women who are Pennsylvania residents and who meet certain eligibility requirements. It covers family planning services and supplies, so most of the services you normally receive at our family planning clinics will be free-of-charge! Click here for more information.


PREGNANCY

I had sex last night in any of the following situations and I am afraid I might get pregnant by accident, what can I do now?

  • the condom broke
  • the condom slipped off
  • I was forced to have sex without birth control
  • I missed my birth control shot (Depo Provera)
  • I forgot to take my pill
  • the diaphragm was dislodged
  • I forgot to put on my patch
  • my patch fell off
  • Is it possible to get pregnant during my period?

    How long after sex must I wait to take a pregnancy test so that I get accurate results?

    Is it possible to get pregnant without even having sex? Can sperm live outside the male body?

    Know The Facts

    I am having sex for the first time and want to know what are the best methods for protection from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

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    If I become pregnant while on a birth control method like the pill, patch, vaginal ring or Depo-Provera™ will it harm my baby?

    • The pill, patch and vaginal ring will not harm the baby. Of course, the method should be discontinued as soon as pregnancy is confirmed.
    • Health care providers will give you a pregnancy test before your Depo-Provera shot to confirm that you are not pregnant. If you think you are pregnant and take Depo-Provera, it is important to see your clinician for a pregnancy test as soon as possible.
    • If an unexpected pregnancy occurs 1 to 2 months after a Depo-Provera injection, the baby is more likely to have a low birth weight or other health problems; birth defects are possible if you use the drug during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Children born to women who were taking Depo-Provera show no signs of poor health or development.
    Click here for more information on birth defects.

    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    Is it possible to get pregnant without even having sex? Can sperm live outside the male body?

    • The life expectancy of sperm is short if exposed to air because air kills sperm. Once sperm has entered a woman's body, it can live up to one week.
    • Sperm can be deposited on the skin surfaces near a woman's vagina and can enter the vagina with the help of a woman's bodily fluids.
    • Becoming pregnant this way is not common, however, women have gotten pregnant without having the penis penetrate or inserted in their vagina. If there is a chance there is sperm on your hands, make sure to wash with soap and water before coming into any contact with the vagina.
    If you are worried about pregnancy you may want to consider Emergency Contraception (EC).

    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    Is it possible to get pregnant during my period?
    • Yes, it is possible to become pregnant while you have your period. The chances of getting pregnant during your period are low but not impossible.
    • If you have sexual intercourse during the end of your period the chances are higher because sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up to one week.
    If you are worried about pregnancy you may want to consider Emergency Contraception (EC).

    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    How long after sex must I wait to take a pregnancy test so that I get accurate results?
    • Every woman is different as to when a pregnancy test will come up positive. It is best to wait until you have missed a period by 10 to 14 days or two weeks to give your body time to build up the hormone HCG, which is only present when you are pregnant. A very early test (during the week your period is due) might not pick up a pregnancy because the level of HCG might not yet be detectable.
    If you are worried about pregnancy you may want to consider Emergency Contraception (EC).

    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    Is it true that you can use the pill to skip your period?
    • Yes, it is possible to skip the last week of a birth control pill pack (period week) and begin a new pack of pills to prevent your period. Some women decide to skip their period if it is expected to occur during a vacation, wedding, honeymoon, or other important occasion. Women should discuss this with their health care providers in order to understand what this might mean for their body.
    • Birth control pills are normally taken with 21 active hormonal pills followed by 7 placebo or iron pills.
    • While on birth control pills, there is no biological need for a menstrual period, however many women prefer to get their menstrual cycle on a monthly basis. A monthly period eases any worries about being pregnant.
    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    Can a teenager get birth control without a parent's permission?
    • Yes, teenagers can get birth control without parents' permission. Birth control and other reproductive health services at federally funded Title X family planning clinics in the United States are strictly confidential, which means that clinic staff cannot share any patient's information with anyone unless you give the clinic staff permission.
    • There are many federally funded family planning clinics where teenagers, 17 and under can get free services. These services include birth control methods (prevent pregnancy), pregnancy testing, STD (sexually transmitted diseases) testing, and gynecological exams.
    • Even though federally funded family planning clinics offer confidential services to teenagers, it's always a good idea for teens to talk with their parents or another trusted adult to help them carefully consider their decision about becoming sexually active and the need to use birth control in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    How long does it take for the pill or Depo-Provera to work?
    • The pill is effective two weeks after you start using it. It basically shuts off your ovaries. As long as you remember to take it at the same time each day you will be protected from pregnancy. The Depo-Provera shot is effective about 24 hours after it is given (within the first five days of your menses), even if it is the first time getting the shot.
    • For more information about the birth control pill click here, for more information about Depo-Provera click here.
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    Do antibiotics affect the pill?
    • Certain antibiotics can stop the pill from working properly. This can increase your chance of getting pregnant.
    • Use a back up method, like condoms (male or female), or do not have vaginal sex, while taking the antibiotic and a week after finishing the antibiotics.
    • Remember, if you are given a prescription for an antibiotic; it is very important to tell the clinician that you are on the pill.
    • If you are worried about getting pregnant, you may want to consider using Emergency Contraception (EC).
    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    Is the withdrawal method effective in preventing pregnancy?
    • The withdrawal or "pulling out" method is when the man pulls his penis out of the woman's vagina before he ejaculates (cums). If there is any pre-ejaculation (pre-cum) on the penis, then there is a chance that a pregnancy may occur.
    • Withdrawal decreases the risk of pregnancy when no other method is available; however, this is one of the least effective methods of birth control.
    • Withdrawal offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
    • Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 4 will become pregnant each year if they always do it correctly (perfect use).
    • Of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, 27 will become pregnant each year if they don't always do it correctly (typical use).
    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    If I stop taking the pill, how long should I wait until I can conceive?
    • You should first complete the cycle of pills that you are currently using.
    • It can take from one to three months for your body's own hormonal cycle to resume menstruating and ovulating. Some couples choose to use a non-hormonal method during this time, to give the body a chance to resume hormonal functioning. Non-hormonal methods include male and female condoms, the diaphragm, spermicide and the sponge.
    • Exposure to pill hormones during pregnancy has been studied by the Food and Drug Administration. The pill does not cause fetal anomalies, but some people would rather not risk hormonal exposure.
    • You may wish to check in with your clinician for a pre-pregnancy check up that includes genetic counseling and a request for prenatal vitamins.
    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    If I stop taking Depo-Provera, how long should I wait until I can conceive?
    • Depo-Provera can stay in the system of a woman for six to eighteen months after the last shot. This is because Depo-Provera is stored in the body's fat cells; it can take a while for the medication to completely leave the system. This does not mean, however, that the Depo-Provera shot will completely protect a woman from pregnancy after she discontinues getting the shot. It means that she may not be ovulating or menstruating on a regular basis after discontinuing Depo-Provera.
    • Women who will be seeking pregnancy in the next year or two are advised to use a shorter acting method of birth control. Shorter acting methods of birth control include: oral contraceptives (the pill), the diaphragm, male and female condoms, or spermicides.
    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    I had sex last night in any of the following situations and I am afraid I might get pregnant by accident, what can I do now?
    • the condom broke
    • condom slipped off
    • I was forced to have sex without birth control
    • I missed my Depo shot
    • I forgot my pill(s)
    • the diaphragm was dislodged
    • I forgot to put on my patch or it fell off.
    • If you had unprotected sex in the last 72 hours or three days and want to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, you may want Emergency Contraception or EC.
    • EC used to be called "the morning after pill". It is now called EC because it can be used up to three days after unprotected sex, although it is most effective if taken within 12 hours after unprotected sex.
    • EC is a series of specific types of birth control pills that if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex can prevent an unplanned pregnancy by up to 75%.
    • If it has been 24 hours or less since the Patch fell off, put the same patch or a new one back on.
    • If it has been more than 24 hours since the Patch fell off, start a new cycle by putting a new patch on right away. Whatever day it is will be your new "patch change day." You will need to use a backup method of birth control, like a condom, for 1 week.

    ECP providers: 1-888-NOT-2-LATE or 1-800-330-1271

    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    I am trying to learn more about my body's cycles so I can seek/avoid pregnancy. Are there natural methods that I can use?

    • Yes. Natural Family Planning or NFP is a method in which a woman and clinician study her patterns of menstruation and ovulation to determine the best times to conceive or avoid pregnancy.
    • NFP is best learned by utilizing the sympto-thermal method. This means that a woman must be comfortable in monitoring her body's signs that signal fertility. Checking the position of the cervix daily as well as vaginal mucus is a part of NFP. Checking Basal Body Temperature (BBT) daily before getting up out of bed is also a part of NFP.
    • This method is easy to learn but is best reviewed with a clinician to help determine fertility patterns.
    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.


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    I am a female interested in the effects of sterilization. Can you tell me the costs, and how effective this is?
    • Female sterilization is a surgical birth control method.
    • It is 99% effective.
    • Sterilization involves cutting, clipping or cauterizing (burning) the fallopian tubes, which are attached to the uterus.
    • Sterilization does not provide any protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
    • Some providers have funding available to assist low-income women who wish to be sterilized.
    • Sterilization does not stop a woman's menstrual cycle, so periods should be expected.
    • The Essure procedure is a non-incisional surgical procedure that involves placing a small, flexible device, also known as a micro-insert, into each fallopian tube. Scar tissue then grows into the micro-inserts, blocking the fallopian tubes and preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg.
    • Female sterilization may increase the risk of having an ectopic (not in uterus) pregnancy. A pregnancy occurring outside of the uterus cannot continue for very long before it becomes a health risk to the woman. An ectopic pregnancy is a life threatening condition. You need to call your doctor or clinic if your have any of the following symptoms: abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain in your lower belly, especially on one side, and/or neck, shoulder, or upper back pain.
    Click here for more information about ectopic pregnancies.

    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    I am a male considering having a vasectomy, what are the effects on the body and how much does it cost?
    • A vasectomy is a permanent method of male birth control.
    • It is 99% effective.
    • Sterilization does not provide any protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
    • Male sterilization is much less complicated than female sterilization because it is a non-surgical procedure that does not require a hospital visit.
    • With the no-scalpel vasectomy, the skin of the scrotum (testicles) is not cut. The tubes are reached through one tiny hole, then tied off, cauterized, or blocked. The tiny hole heals quickly, no stitches, no scarring.
    • Vasectomies have no effect on sexuality. Erections, climaxes, and the amount of ejaculate remain the same.
    The cost of sterilization varies greatly from provider to provider. Insurance coverage for a vasectomy also varies depending on insurance plans. Some providers have funding available to assist low-income clients in obtaining a vasectomy.

    Click here for more information about birth control methods and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Click here for Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics.

    Click here for family planning clinic locations outside of the Philadelphia area.

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    I am having sex for the first time and want to know what are the best methods for protection from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

    • It is an excellent idea for both partners to be screened for HIV and other infections that can be present without signs or symptoms. Having sex for the first time requires a lot of negotiation with your partner about which birth control method(s) will be good for both of you. Male and female condoms are good protection from both pregnancy and infections. Using a spermicide with the condom reduces the chances an unplanned pregnancy. Having Emergency Contraception (EC) on hand as a back up method is also good planning.


    More Information

    Philadelphia Area Family Planning Clinics

    Click here if you are outside of the Philadelphia area, and are in need of a clinic for an exam.

    If you are a woman and would like to know what to expect when you visit a family planning clinic click here, if you are man, click here.

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