It’s common for people who are sexually active to worry about pregnancy, especially if pregnancy isn’t something they want. Whether you’re worried about getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant, if you’re having pregnancy anxiety, you’re not alone.
First things first: is there a pregnancy to worry about?
If you recently had penis-in-vagina sex, or sex where someone’s vulva came into direct contact with someone’s penis or their ejaculate, there may be some risk of pregnancy. How much risk depends on a few things, like whether or not you used birth control. To learn more about how to tell if you or someone you know could be pregnant, check out our FAQ.
If you need to know for sure, you can get a pregnancy test without a prescription at any pharmacy. Most are 99.9% accurate 2 weeks after sex, or 1 week after a missed period. Most clinics will also do pregnancy tests!
I’m not pregnant, and neither is my partner, but I still have anxiety about it!
It can be scary to not know if you or your partner could be pregnant. For some people, just knowing for sure that pregnancy isn’t possible is enough to ease their anxieties.
But feelings don’t always have to have to be logical to have a real effect on your life. A strong irrational fear is sometimes called a phobia. Being afraid of pregnancy when you’re not directly involved with a pregnancy is so common, there’s even a word for it: Tokophobia. Phobias can happen for a lot of reasons, and they’re not always in our control.
Tackling pregnancy anxiety with knowledge
It’s common for people to be afraid of things they don’t fully understand. And unfortunately, when it comes to sex and pregnancy, many people grow up without access to reliable information. You may have heard stories about unplanned pregnancies being caused by toilet seats, hot tubs, oral or anal sex, or even for no reason at all. Maybe you grew up without access to sex education, or were discouraged from asking questions about things like sex and pregnancy.
Whatever the reasons, not knowing how pregnancy happens or how it works can make it seem a lot scarier. But learning about your body and sexual health can go a long way towards helping you feel less anxious about those things!
Pregnancy anxiety and mental health
Sometimes, anxiety is a sign that there’s something deeper going on emotionally. If you know for sure that neither you or your partner is pregnant, but you:
- can’t stop thinking about pregnancy
- worry about it so much it keeps you from doing other things
- have panic attacks when you think about the possibility of pregnancy
- feel like you need to do specific things (like bathing or praying) over and over again to ease your anxiety
- can’t listen to, read, or watch anything related to pregnancy because it stresses you out too much
It may help to talk to someone you trust about your anxieties.
Sometimes, when a person is dealing with something stressful or traumatic (like sexual assault, an unhealthy relationship, guilt or shame about sex, or physical health problems), it’s easy to fixate on one specific fear related to those things. If this is where someone’s pregnancy anxiety is coming from, understanding and dealing with the underlying issues can help.
Other times, unwanted and uncontrollable worrying about something like pregnancy can be a sign of an anxiety disorder, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Whatever the cause, pregnancy anxiety can make it a lot harder to talk about, think about, and enjoy sex when you want to. And worrying about anything constantly or obsessively just isn’t fun! Even if the risk of pregnancy isn’t real, if you’re having this kind of anxiety about it, your distress and fear are. Talking to your partner, a therapist, or someone whose advice you trust can be a first step to getting the support you need.