Contraception Myths

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 48 percent of women in the United States have experienced at least one unplanned pregnancy. Contraception myths, such as “I can’t get pregnant my first time” and “pregnancy can’t occur without an orgasm,” give some women a false sense of security. Dispelling myths about contraception and learning about effective methods of birth control can minimize your chances of an unwanted pregnancy.

Myth #1: Pregnancy Can’t Occur Without an Orgasm

Contrary to some contraception myths, a female orgasm is not necessary to cause pregnancy. A woman’s orgasm is unrelated to the release of her eggs, which occurs during ovulation.

It’s also possible for men to release sperm before ejaculating fully. Therefore, pregnancy can happen even if neither partner experiences an orgasm during intercourse.

Myth #2: If I Time My Sexual Intercourse, I Won’t Get Pregnant

Timing your menstrual cycle (also called the “rhythm method”) doesn’t ensure that pregnancy won’t occur.

The hormones involved in the menstrual cycle are responsible for establishing when ovulation occurs. Although a women’s menstrual cycle occurs on a fairly regular schedule, it can’t be predicted with 100 percent accuracy. So-called “safe days” can change each month, which makes predicting ovulation very difficult.

Myth #3: I Can’t Get Pregnant the First Time

A woman can absolutely get pregnant the first time she has sexual intercourse. Women ovulate even if they aren’t having sex at all. The body continues to ovulate until sperm fertilizes an egg.

Women who are considering sexual activity for the first time should explore contraception options, such as the pill, to protect against unplanned pregnancy from the very first time they have sex.

Myth #4: Other Things Can Double as Condoms

Condoms are designed as a barrier to protect against sexually transmitted disease (STDs) and pregnancy. Contrary to myths about contraception, household items, like balloons or plastic wrap, can’t serve as condoms, since they:

  • Aren’t designed to fit properly, and won’t provide adequate protection during intercourse
  • Can break easily, exposing both partners to infections and pregnancy
  • May be uncomfortable and irritate the skin or cause injury.

Myth #5: Two Condoms are Better than One

Wearing two condoms can cause the materials to rub up against each other, increasing the likelihood of a rip or tear. This, in turn, increases the risk of unwanted pregnancy. It’s best to use just one condom properly.

Myth #6: The Pill Starts Working Right Away

According to Planned Parenthood, the pill protects against unwanted pregnancy 92 to 98 percent of the time — after the first month.

Once you start taking the pill, backup protection (such as condoms) must be used for the first full month. You’ll need to take the pill for at least one full menstrual cycle before they begin preventing the ovulation process. They also must be taken as directed to get the maximum benefit.

Myth #7: If I Use the Withdrawal Method, I Won’t Get Pregnant

The withdrawal method involves pulling the penis out before ejaculation occurs. This isn’t a foolproof method, even if you have complete control during intercourse.

When an experienced man uses this method, it only works up to 70 percent of the time. Fluid can be released before ejaculation, allowing sperm to fertilize an egg. If you’re planning to use the withdrawal method as a form of birth control, consider it a “backup,” along with another, more reliable method (such as condoms or spermicide).

Resources

Cleveland Clinic Staff. (2010). Contraception Myths. Retrieved February 9, 2010, from the Cleveland Clinic Web site: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9494812.

U.S. National Library of Medicine Staff. (2010). Unintended pregnancy in the United States. Retrieved February 9, 2010, from the U.S. National Library of Medicine Web site: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9494812.