Although many people regard pregnancy as a joyous event, an unplanned pregnancy for a college woman is often a crisis. Regardless of whether a pregnancy is planned or unplanned, wanted or not, both men and women may experience a wide range of emotions—anxiety, fear, embarrassment, anger, entrapment, guilt, sadness, or doubt
What To Do
If your friend is not sure she’s pregnant, the first step is to have her take a home pregnancy test. These can be purchased at any grocery store or pharmacy. The Campus Health Pharmacy also sells pregnancy kits. The Campus Health lab provides pregnancy testing as well.
Home pregnancy tests measure a woman’s urine for a hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced by the developing placenta beginning the day an embryo implants in the uterine wall. Implantation occurs about one week after fertilization (when the sperm joins the egg). If a woman had sex and tested 3 days later, it’s much too soon to tell if she’s pregnant. Home tests cannot detect a pregnancy before it’s producing measurable amounts of hCG: at least 7-14 days after ovulation.
Testing one week after a missed period will almost certainly give accurate results because there will be enough time for hCG to rise to detectable levels. Many women test too early (before they expect their period to start) and obtain incorrect results. Tests done too soon are almost always going to negative (indicating no pregnancy).
Other Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy
- Absence of menstrual period
- Breast tenderness
- Change in appetite
If pregnancy is a concern due to very recent unprotected intercourse, get to a pharmacy ASAP for Plan B®, also known as the “morning after pill.” A woman takes one dose of the emergency contraceptive as soon as possible and another dose 12 hours later. When taken within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse, Plan B® is 75-89% effective for preventing pregnancy. It works by stopping ovulation, or inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg. Plan B® is NOT the abortion pill (RU-486). Plan B® is not effective if you are already pregnant and is not harmful to an implanted embryo.
Your friend does NOT need a prescription for Plan B® – either one of you can talk to a pharmacist and they will sell the medication after confirming that the buyer (male or female) is over the age of 18 (Arizona State Law). Women 17 or younger will need to see a medical provider for a prescription (this may involve parental consent since the law dictates that minors cannot be treated without their parent’s or guardian’s permission).
The pharmacy at Campus Health Service carries Plan B®. If emergency contraception is needed after hours, visit a local pharmacy. For more information visit Plan B®.
Where to Refer a Pregnant Friend
Students can be directed to one of the following for testing and guidance:
- Women’s Health Clinic at Campus Health
- Planned Parenthood
- Hands of Hope (A faith-based organization that provides pregnancy support and post-abortion counseling, but no abortion services)
- Private Physician
Early diagnosis is valuable and encouraged. If your friend is pregnant and decides to continue the pregnancy to full term, she should begin prenatal care immediately.