I'm Afraid I/my Partner Might Be Pregnant.  What Should I Do?

Well, for starters, if your partner is the same sex as you, the odds of pregnancy are pretty slim.

If your partner is of the opposite sex and you have unprotected sex regularly, know that over the course of a year the chances of conception are about 80%.  Meaning it is imperative to use protection and contraceptives.  Of course, if the deed is done, all you can really do is wait.

If it's been less than five days and you are really worried about it, you can purchase the "morning after pill," Plan B, at the Ashe Center for about $16.  If it is a weekend, you can try calling into the local Westwood pharmacies to see if any have the pill available.  You may also try contacting any of the places listed under Bruin Resources.  You don't need a doctor's prescription to buy Plan B.  Just remember that it is kept behind the pharmacy counter, so you have to REQUEST it.

If you successfully and safely used contraceptives, the risk of pregnancy is decidedly low.  If you had problems with your birth control, and took EC, you are also well protected.  (By the way, if you're on the pill you are already protected like you would be with EC, but even more so.  So you would only need EC if you missed over three pills or something.  Ask the pharmacist if you aren't sure.) 

Wait until you miss the expected time you normally have your period (factor in stress from worrying--stress raises certain hormone levels that can delay your period.)  Also, if you have taken EC your period might be a little off.   If you are still worried you can take a pregnancy test.

Pregnancy Tests

Pregnancy tests detect a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin in your urine.  Over the course of a pregnancy, the amount hCG continually and noticeably increases.

Over the counter pregnancy test retail about $10-20 bucks, but there is a wait time before one can take the test because detects the hormone in urine.  Read the instructions carefully and remain calm, or you may have difficulty peeing onto a stick (just kidding.)  HCG can also be detected in the blood as early as implantation, 10-11 days after conception. Some home pregnancy tests can detect hCG as early as 4 days before the next expected period, but most do not become accurate until the expected day of the period.  Suffice to say, if you haven't missed a period, your test might not be accurate yet. 

It is certainly possible to get a false-negative but very rarely a false-positive with home pregnancy tests.  Even if it says negative, it could be positive.  It takes a considerable amount of hCG for the test to light up positive, though, so the stick will only pick up hCG in your blood, if there is a considerable amount.  Pregnancy is not the only reason why a woman would have elevated hCG levels, but if the stick detects the hormone you should definitely follow up with your doctor, because something is definitely up.

Pregnancy testing is available at the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center Women's Health Clinic. Women can come into the clinic Monday through Thursday between 8am and 6:30pm and Fridays between 9am to 6:30pm to request the test. The student will be asked to provide a urine sample once she is in the clinic. If the sample is in the lab by 2pm, the results will be available the same day at 4pm. Another form of pregnancy test is through a blood sample (serum).  This is usually more accurate and can be taken sooner after intercourse, but results might take longer.  You can ask your physician or NP which test is best for you.

If you are really worried and getting a test will give you peace of mind, go to Ashe.  Pregnancy tests are covered by SHIP.  THEY ARE FREE.  For students without SHIP, a doctor's visit+test will cost $22.  All test results are completely confidential. Counseling is available in Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center for women with positive test results.

If You Are, In Fact, Pregnant

If you are pregnant, seek out health care.  Talk to the professionals at Student Psychological Services and the Ashe Center, and your primary health care providers, to explore your options, or visit a federally funded free clinic.  (Be wary of some free clinics that might try to scare/intimidate/pressure you into either keeping the baby or getting an abortion, though.)  At UCLA, clinics like the Arthur Ashe Center, the Center for Women and Men, and Student Psychological Services are required to be objective and only provide resources--not tell you what to do or give advice--so please do not hesitate to seek them out!  Become as educated as possible.  There is a support base out there, just look for it.  It's your pregnancy, so the decision is ultimately yours.

You will have to choose from three options.  One is to terminate the pregnancy (abortion.)  The other two require carrying the fetus to term--and then either deciding to raise the child or to give the child up for adoption.  Below is some information on abortion and adoption services in the greater Los Angeles county.  I am not advocating one over the other because I believe that choices should be matched to individual people.

Safely Surrendered Baby Law

I would like to make everyone aware of the Safely Surrendered Baby Law.  There is no reason to abandon or harm a newborn baby.  Under the SSB law, within 3 days of birth, a parent or person with lawful custody can safely surrender a baby confidentially and without fear of prosecution.  The baby must be taken to a public or private hospital ER, designated fire station, or other safe surrender site.  No questions will be asked.

Newborns surrendered at a hospital are given proper medical treatment and placed in a foster home/pre-adoptive home.  A bracelet will be placed on the baby for ID purposes.  The parent or lawful guardian will also be provided with the matching ID and be given up to 14 days from the time of the surrender to reclaim the baby.  Information about this law can be found at the Los Angeles County Baby Safe website.

Any ER or Fire Station in Los Angeles will confidentially accept a newborn child, no questions asked.  The UCLA Medical Center is the closest drop location.

Adoption

By giving your child up for adoption you will be terminating your parental rights and transferring them over to someone else.  If you are pregnant and wish to give your child up for adoption, your doctor or a family planning clinic may refer you to an adoption agency. 

These agencies may offer a variety of services for birth mothers, including pre-adoption counseling.  You may be involved in the process of selecting an adoptive family for your child.  They may even provide free housing or medical care for you for the duration of your pregnancy.

I can't really recommend an adoption service, but this is one that popped up in google so I'm posting it here: Adoption Network Law Center.

Abortion

There are two forms of abortion: medical and surgical.

Medical abortion involves taking a medicine called RU-486 (mifepristone & misoprostol).  It can be used between the first 49-63 days of the first trimester of pregnancy.  It essentially chemically induces a miscarriage and is 92-97% effective.  Unlike surgical abortion, it is a noninvasive procedure.  However, it may take some time before it begins to work, and if it does not completely terminate the pregnancy, most clinics require you to commit to a surgical procedure as well.

Surgical abortion is available throughout the first trimester (14 weeks) of pregnancy.  The cervix is stretched open and a vacuum or suction device will aspirate the uterus.  The process will take place in a hospital setting.

Parenting

At this time I think addressing this issue is a little beyond my scope of knowledge.  If you do in fact choose to raise a child, though, it does not necessarily mean you must forego your education entirely.  UCLA has a childcare/daycare program and also financial aid.  You can look into it at this website, UCLA Early Care and Education.  The Center for Women and Men also provides networking for students who are also parents.