You had unplanned sex, and now you might be feeling anxious about it. Maybe it was a person you didn’t know very well, or maybe you forgot to use protection.
Regardless of what happened, it’s important to remain calm. You’re not the only person who’s had an impromptu and possibly unprotected rendezvous. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that everything is going to be OK. You are still an amazing person, and there’s no reason to feel bad about yourself or anyone else.
That said, there are a few things you should do now to ensure you stay safe. From getting tested for sexually transmitted infections to visiting a gynecologist, this article lists steps to take after an unplanned holiday hookup:
1. Consider Emergency Contraception
If you’re worried about a potential pregnancy, you should access emergency contraception immediately. Over-the-counter options like Plan B and other morning-after pills will effectively prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sex.
Some morning-after pills can be taken even after three days. Ella, for example, is one of the most effective morning-after pills because it can be taken five days after sex. Be aware, though, that Ella has to be prescribed by a doctor. Regardless of whether you choose an over-the-counter or prescribed option, the sooner it’s taken, the more effective it will be.
2. Get Tested
After an unplanned hookup, it’s important to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Even if you used a contraceptive, STIs can still be passed. Hormonal birth control (the pill, patch, ring, etc.) lowers your chances of getting pregnant, but it can’t protect against bacterial or viral infections. Barrier methods like male or female condoms are effective in preventing STIs, but they’re not foolproof. STI transmission is still possible via skin-to-skin contact on portions of the body not covered by the condom.
If you’re embarrassed about getting tested, you can take a test at home. There are online services that will send discreetly packaged STI testing kits to your door for you to administer yourself. Once you have your sample, simply send the test back and wait for your results. What’s nice about these services is they’ll connect you with a doctor if your test is positive. This doctor will counsel you on any next steps to take.
3. Take a Pregnancy Test
Naturally, if your period is late, you’ll want to take a pregnancy test. But maybe you have irregular periods and don’t know when your next one will start. In that case, wait at least 10 days after your hookup to take a test. It takes time to detect the pregnancy hormones, and some tests are more accurate than others.
For example, some at-home tests can detect pregnancy a week after your missed period. Others can detect positives as early as a week before your period would be missed. Make sure you do your research before taking any type of pregnancy test, and read the instructions carefully. Believe it or not, you can get a false positive on a pregnancy test if it’s not taken correctly.
4. Keep Watch for Symptoms
Not only should you pay attention to your menstrual cycle, but you should also pay attention to how you’re feeling. Are you itchy down there? Are you experiencing unusual discharge or cramping? If so, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
You should also check in with your emotions. Do you feel guilty or sad about your unplanned rendezvous? If your mental health has plummeted since, then you might want to consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist. You don’t have to face your feelings alone; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help.
5. Visit Your Doctor
While at-home STI testing kits and pregnancy tests are accurate, visiting a doctor might bring you additional peace of mind. For example, you may want to confirm the results of an at-home pregnancy test. A primary care physician or OB-GYN can test your blood to determine whether you’re pregnant. This option is considered more accurate than a urine sample.
There’s also a chance you have questions about your health and body that only your doctor can answer. Scheduling an appointment gives you the opportunity to ask any question and ensure you’re in good health.
6. Make a Plan
You should use this experience as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself a few questions: How can you keep this from happening again? What steps can you put in place to make sure you’re prepared in the event it does happen again? Answering these questions can help you put a plan in place so you’re prepared in the future.
For example, if you regret your decision, you might want to consider what drove you to make it. If you’re confident in your decision but wish you had protected yourself, consider keeping condoms and other contraceptives on hand. You might also want to consider having a dose of the morning-after pill in your medicine cabinet, just in case.
Unplanned hookups happen, so don’t beat yourself up if you had one recently. Just make sure you take care of yourself after your unprotected encounter and put steps in place for next time. The tips above will help keep you and your future partners safe.