Birth Control Facts & Myths

Chances are you learned about ways to avoid pregnancy not from your doctor, but from your friends or older siblings.

Some of this advice was likely based on myths that are centuries old. Still, countless adults still believe they hold true and will actually protect against an unwanted pregnancy.

Learn the truth behind some common myths about how pregnancy can happen as well as myths about today's more modern forms of birth control.

Myths About How Pregnancy Can Happen

"You won't get pregnant if you have sex standing up."

Fact: Sexual positions don't make much of a difference, and gravity won't stop sperm from swimming toward the woman's cervix and uterus.

"You can't get pregnant the first time you have sex."

Fact: Any woman who ovulates can get pregnant the first time she has sexual intercourse.

"A female can't get pregnant if she doesn't have an orgasm (cum)."

Fact: Pregnancy occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg. It doesn't matter if the female has an orgasm or not.

"A female can't get pregnant on certain days of the month."

Fact: Sperm can live up to 7 days in a female's body. A female who has sex days before she ovulates can still become pregnant.

"A male has to ejaculate to get a female pregnant."

Fact: Most men release a small amount of semen before they ejaculate (pre-cum). There is enough sperm in the pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) to fertilize an egg.

"You won't get pregnant if you douche right after sex."

Fact: Douching isn't effective in preventing pregnancy because some sperm may reach the uterus right after ejaculation. After a man ejaculates, the sperm swim through the female's cervix, far out of reach of any douching solution. Also, douching can push the sperm towards the uterus and increase the chance of pregnancy.

"You can't get pregnant if you have sex during your period."

Fact: Eggs can live for up to 2 days and sperm for up to 7 days inside a female's body. During your period, if you have unprotected sex, you can get pregnant.

Not all vaginal bleeding happens during a menstrual period. Some females bleed when they ovulate and mistake the bleeding as their period.

Myths About Modern Birth Control Methods

"The Pill starts working as soon as you take it."
It can take as long as one full menstrual cycle before the birth control pill starts preventing pregnancy. You should definitely use a back up method of birth control (for e.g. condoms) during this time.

"You have to give your body a break from the Pill."
Most healthy women can stay on the Pill from puberty to menopause. The effectiveness of the birth control pill remains the same no matter how old a female is.

"The Pill will make you gain weight."
Studies show that the majority of women on the low-dose birth control pills available today won't gain weight.

"An IUD will make you infertile."
If a female already has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), an IUD can help the infection reach a woman's uterus and fallopian tubes, which could make her sterile (won't be able to have children). But this is only a possibility if a female already has an STI before the IUD is inserted.

It's the STI - not the IUD - that might cause infertility.

Before having an IUD inserted, get tested for STIs.

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