Here are 8 birth control myths to be aware of, just so you know you’ve got your facts straight.
It’s important to get the right information regarding birth control methods, their rates of effectiveness and their suitability to your lifestyle. After all, you know what they call people who don’t get birth control, right? Parents!
MYTH 1: Breastfeeding prevents pregnancy
It’s true that prolactin, the same hormone that produces breast milk, suppresses ovulation, and without an egg, you cannot get pregnant. But the circumstances have to be incredibly accurate and most women are not able to read their own hormone levels so accurately that they can’t determine whether they are producing sufficient amounts of prolactin.
You must follow some strict guidelines if you want to use this method. Your baby needs to be under 6 months old.
You can’t have restarted your period and your baby must be getting 90% of their nutrition from your breast milk (no less than 6 feeds per day). Most gynaecologists tend not to recommend women to use this method because the slightest change in breastfeeding routines (i.e., you’re ill, your baby is ill, you miss a feed, etc.) can alter everything and all bets are off!
MYTH 2: You can’t get pregnant if you’re using contraceptives
OK, so the whole point of using birth control is to prevent pregnancy, but no birth control method, apart from abstinence, is 100% effective. Most unplanned pregnancies occur because women, or men, have not used the birth control “perfectly”, consistently and correctly. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who has fallen pregnant after having their tubes tied, or after hubby got the snip. There are even documented cases of women getting pregnant after hysterectomies! The better you are at using your contraceptive method in the exact way it was intended, the more chance you have of remaining baby-free. But keep in mind that even that 0.01% chance could happen the next time you think “she’ll be right!”.
MYTH 3: Douching, Showering, or Bathing Can Prevent Pregnancy
Douching (a fancy word for splashing or squirting water up your lady bits) is not an effective method of birth control as it is impossible to douche fast enough to keep sperm away from fertilising an egg. Urinating or taking a bath or shower will also not wash sperm out. There is a (disturbing!) theory that douching with Coke is supposed to kill sperm; although this is true, it is not recommended as it can cause harm to the reproductive track.
MYTH 4: The female can’t get pregnant if the male “Pulls Out” before he ejaculates
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this one! Withdrawal or “pulling out” is not a reliable method, and there are several reasons for this.
An aroused male can pre-ejaculate up to 300,000 sperm before the rest of the soldiers arrive for the party, and it only takes one of these suckers to fertilise an egg. There is also the risk he won’t be able to pull out in time or that he will ejaculate around the vagina.
Meaning, those Olympic swimming sperm can freestyle their way back up! Bottom line, withdrawal CAN be effective but a method you can’t totally rely on. It is extremely hard (no pun intended!) to do!
MYTH 5: Condoms can be replaced with other latex or plastic objects
OK, let’s get this straight. The only substitute for a condom is another condom. Not glad-wrap, balloons or any other latex or plastic stretchy covering you can find.
Traditionally, condoms have been the man’s responsibility, usually due to the belief that, because they wear them, they buy them. But several companies now make condoms for women now, too. Female condoms can be inserted up to eight hours before sex, and they’re a great option if your guy is not happy about wearing condoms or is not particularly reliable in putting them on. Male and female condoms are the only form of birth control that protects against sexually transmitted disease, but not 100% against pregnancy.
MYTH 6: A woman can’t get pregnant if she has sex during her period
Many women (and men) believe this myth. It is possible for a female to get pregnant at any time during her menstrual cycle.
Generally, when you are having your period, it means that you are not ovulating. If this is the case, then you will not get pregnant. However, females with irregular or shorter cycles can actually ovulate during their period because it is not guaranteed that you will ovulate mid-cycle.
Sperm can live inside a woman’s body for up to 5 days, so if you ovulate any time within 7 days of having unprotected sex, you could become pregnant.
MYTH 7: Spermicides are reliable on their own
Typically, spermicide is a chemical agent used to kill, or significantly slow down the motility of sperm. It is not particularly popular as it is quite messy, can be irritating and its effectiveness on its own is quite low. As a side note, homemade spermicides, such as toothpaste or soft drink, are completely ineffective and will only end up making a huge mess and a very sticky situation!
MYTH 8: Standing Up + No Orgasm = No Pregnancy
Not only does this sound uncomfortable and unsatisfying, it is completely untrue.
The theory is that the sperm find it too hard to swim “upwards” when you are standing up, and the absence of muscle contractions caused by orgasm makes it even harder to move the sperm towards the egg. But, as previously mentioned, just one little swimmer needs to be strong enough to get up there. Pleasure and position have nothing to do with birth control!