How it Happens

Common Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

Missed or Abnormal Period

A missed or abnormal period is the most common sign of pregnancy, but some women continue to have light bleeding when they are pregnant. A missed period does also not always mean that a person is pregnant because periods can be irregular or absent due to factors such as stress, illness, etc.

Breast Tenderness

Some pregnant people experience breast tenderness or swelling and nipple sensitivity during pregnancy. Breasts usually increase in size and the dark area around the nipple (the areola) usually gets darker and bigger.

Nausea or morning sickness

Some people feel nausea or sick to their stomach during early pregnancy while others do not experience this at all. If a pregnant person experiences nausea, it can happen at any time during the day.

  • Dizziness, Fatigue
  • Increased frequency of urination

If you think you may be pregnant, it is a good idea to take a pregnancy test either at home (purchased at a pharmacy) or make an appointment to have one done at no cost at one of our clinics. You can also have a test done at a walk in clinic or your family physician’s office.
It can be stressful to wonder if you are pregnant, the Sexuality and U website features a helpful tool that can offer some guidance if you are wondering about the possibility of pregnancy. This tool does not replace a pregnancy test.

When you suspect you might be pregnant, the first step is to get a pregnancy test.

  • Getting a pregnancy test
  • If your test is negative
  • Pregnancy options

Getting a pregnancy test

A pregnancy test is generally a urine test and takes only a few minutes to give you a result. It’s best to wait until you have missed a period for the most accurate results, but some tests will show results earlier.
You can get a pregnancy test:

  • at Island Sexual Health Society (make an appointment)
  • using a home test kit (available at drug stores)
  • at your doctor’s office

If you do not want to be pregnant, you may not want to do a home test on your own.

If your pregnancy test is negative

If you do not wish to become pregnant, this is a good time to make sure you have good birth control in place. Make an appointment to get help choosing and using birth control.

A second pregnancy test may be necessary to be sure you are not pregnant, and we can let you know if this is the case.

Pregnancy options

If your pregnancy test is positive and you were not trying to get pregnant, then you may want to talk about your options. There are three basic choices:

  • Continue the pregnancy and parent
  • Continue the pregnancy and place your baby for adoption
  • End the pregnancy by having an abortion

Get support

It’s important to get the support you need to help you with your decision. This support may come from:

  • your partner, friends, and family
  • a reputable counselling program (make an appointment to speak to an educator at Island Sexual Health Society). Be aware that some “crisis pregnancy” and “pregnancy options” centres have a pro-life (anti-abortion) bias. At ISHS we are pro-choice, which means we offer unbiased information about all your options.

Make sure you pick someone you trust and who cares about you, however, remember that in the end this decision is yours to make.

Consider your feelings and situation

There are many things to think about if you face an unplanned pregnancy. You may want to consider:

  • Your feelings about being pregnant
  • Your plans for the future
  • Your thoughts, values or beliefs about each of your choices

Make sure you get all the information you need to make your decision. Take time to explore your feelings and consider your options.


We recommend that all people looking for pregnancy option support and information ask all potential resources whether or not the provision of equal, non-biased, factual information on all options (including abortion) is part of their service.

P.O.S. Pregnancy Options Service (in BC)  1-888-875-3163

A telephone service that helps women make informed choices. We operate a FREE telephone service to help people with unintended pregnancies find support, information, and services as close to home as possible.

Pregnancy Options is an excellent online resource that can assist in the decision making process. It is a US based resource that provides a printable workbook that may be helpful.