Alberta Health Care Services
Sexuality Topics
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As you read through the case example, consider the following questions.

I woke up this morning and saw I finally got my period. I am pretty happy about that ‘cause I was starting to get worried. It’s very light, which is a good thing ‘cause I don’t have any cash to buy tampons. It’s been a rough couple of months and I am so tired, sleeping on a different couch every night is starting to wipe me out. It’s not helping that I have to get up and pee during the night. I wonder if the free clinic can check me for a bladder infection.

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For more information about pregnancy and childbirth see:

Early confirmation of pregnancy may prompt women to seek early medical care and take actions that benefit the health of the pregnancy such as folic acid/prenatal vitamin supplementation, avoiding alcohol and/or substances and eating a healthy diet.

Most women experience some signs and symptoms of pregnancy as early as three weeks after conception. The likelihood of pregnancy increases if signs are present BUT the absence of signs does NOT rule out pregnancy. A diagnosis of pregnancy CANNOT be made based on symptoms alone.

The diagnosis of pregnancy is based primarily upon the laboratory assessment of the hormone of pregnancy- human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or diagnosis by fetal Doppler or ultrasound.

Practice note: In 2007, the pregnancy rate for females aged 15-19 in Calgary was 29.3 per 1000 population (Sexual & Reproductive Health – Alberta Health Services Calgary Zone, 2010). In a study of Calgary street-involved youth, 58% of the respondents (ages 14-24) reported they had ever been pregnant or gotten someone pregnant (Worthington et. al., 2009). Are all teen pregnancies unplanned?

Specific questions to ask if pregnancy is suspected:

Reported delay of period, sexual activity and imperfect/no use of birth control and client suspicion of pregnancy are predictive that a pregnancy test would be positive.

Signs and symptoms of pregnancy are classified as presumptive, probable and positive.

Presumptive signs of pregnancy are symptoms that may resemble pregnancy signs but can also be caused by something else.

For example:

Probable signs of pregnancy are signs that indicate pregnancy the majority of the time; however there is still a chance that they might indicate something else.

For example:

Positive signs of pregnancy are signs that under any circumstances cannot be mistaken for other conditions,

For example:

The most common signs and symptoms of early pregnancy are:

Other common signs of early pregnancy are:

Practice note: Bleeding in early pregnancy that is heavier than a typical period or accompanied by pain may represent impending miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Pregnancy Tests

The hormone of pregnancy is called human choronic gonadotropin also known as hCG. hCG can be measured in either the blood or urine. The blood test is the most sensitive test and can detect hCG as early as 6-12 days after ovulation.

Urine tests are generally less sensitive than the blood test. A urine pregnancy test can’t usually detect HCG in the urine until the day of the expected period. If the test is done too soon, the result may not be accurate. If the test is negative and the period does not come, the test should be repeated in one to two weeks or at least 14 days after unprotected intercourse.

Urine pregnancy tests can be done in the home, doctor’s office or laboratory. If a home pregnancy test is done, make sure to follow the instructions on the kit carefully and that it hasn’t passed its expiry date. It is recommended to test a first morning urine sample when the concentration of hormone is highest.

For more information about early pregnancy, see:

For prenatal information and support for pregnant women living on a low income or teens of any income, see:

Practice note: If there has been unprotected sex in the last 5 days, taking emergency contraception(pdf) (EC) can help prevent pregnancy. EC works best if taken within the first 24 hours. EC can be bought at a pharmacy without a prescription or most family doctors, walk in clinics or Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinics.

For an excellent resource for those experiencing pregnancy and street involvement, see:

Pregnancy Options

If an unplanned pregnancy has been confirmed, a woman has 3 options.

Practice note: A woman and her partner can have support to review their pregnancy options in a nonjudgmental way at any Alberta Health Services Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic.


If a woman chooses to become a parent, receiving medical care right away can help make sure that she has a healthy pregnancy. There are many ways to increase the chances of having a healthy baby, such as:

Having a healthy pregnancy and choosing to parent is an incredibly important job which has rewards as well as challenges. There are many resources in the Calgary area to help have a healthy pregnancy. Please contact the Alberta Heath Services, Calgary Zone Best Beginnings program at 403-228-8221.

For more information about pregnancy, labour, birth and new parenting, see:


In Canada each province has its own rules and regulations regarding adoption. In Alberta, if a woman chooses to continue the pregnancy and place the child for adoption there are several types of adoptions to choose from:

Public Adoption

Public adoptions are arranged by a government agency known as The Government of Alberta Children and Youth Services. The services provided by the government agency are confidential and free for birthparents. Typically public adoptions are closed adoptions meaning that the birthparents and adoptive parents are not given any identifying information about each other at the time of adoption. However, in November 2004, Alberta began allowing adopted adults and their birth parents access to identifying information via the Alberta Post Adoption registry. Please contact 403-297-6038 for counseling and support for people thinking about adoption.

For more information public adoption, see:
Calgary and Area Adoption Intake: 403-297-6038

Private Adoption

Private adoption is any adoption that is not arranged by a public agency. Private adoptions include fees established by the private adoption agency that are paid by the adoptive parents. The services are offered free of charge for birth parents.

Adoptions may be open, closed, or somewhere in between. Deciding to have an open or closed adoption is a personal choice which depends on the comfort levels of the birth parent(s) and adoptive parents.

Private Direct Adoption

A private direct adoption means that the birthparent(s) have chosen to place their child directly with a known family or within their own family. Private adoption agencies can assist with this process.

Open Adoption

An open adoption refers to any situation where the adoptive parent(s) and the birth parent(s) know each other and exchange identifying information. Just how much information they exchange depends on the level of comfort of each person(s).

With an open adoption, the birth parent(s) may choose how involved they wish to be in the child’s life including:

Closed Adoption

In a closed adoption, no identifying information is exchanged. It is unlikely that the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) meet. The birth parent(s) may ask that they receive no information once the child has been placed.

What are the Rights of the Birthfather?

In Alberta, if the birth father is listed on the birth certificate, the baby’s father will (in most cases) be a guardian and he must consent to the adoption.

For more information on adoptions, see:


In Alberta, a woman can access a legal abortion until the end of the 19th week of pregnancy. However, most abortions happen during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. If the woman has Alberta Health Care, there are no fees for the procedure. Fees apply if the woman does not have Alberta Health Care.

For more information on abortion, see:


Bastian, L.A., & Brown, H.L. (2010). Diagnosis and clinical manifestations of early pregnancy. UpToDate.

Calgary Sexual Health Center. (2008). Pregnant and undecided? A resource for women facing an unintended pregnancy. Calgary: Author.

Sexual & Reproductive Health – Alberta Health Services Calgary Zone. (2010). Get the facts on…teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STI), HIV & AIDS, and teen sexuality. Calgary: Author.

Worthington, C., MacLaurin, B., Dittman, D., & Kitt., O. (2009). Sexual health among Calgary’s street-involved youth. Calgary youth, health and the street – Fact sheet #4. Calgary: University of Calgary.