Birth Control Myths

2011/06/13 in Health, Sex and Sexuality

There are a few birth control methods that are medically proven to be effective in preventing an unwanted pregnancy. There are also many other methods that some people think will work to avoid pregnancy, which don’t work.

We’re glad you called us for some information on these so-called birth control methods. We think it’s just as important for you to know what doesn’t work as what does. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t believe or practice any of the following so-called birth control methods.

Several myths, or stories, about birth control deal with what is supposed to be the “safe” time of the month for a woman. Maybe you’ve heard that a woman can have intercourse without worrying about pregnancy three days before and three days after her period. Or that she can’t get pregnant during her period. NONE OF THIS IS TRUE. Unless she is using a medically proven effective method of birth control, she could get pregnant any time of the month that she has sexual intercourse. There are several reasons for this. Even if a woman’s periods are pretty regular, she can never be sure when her ovaries are releasing an egg. Ovulation, that is, the release of the egg from the ovaries, has nothing to do with when you had your last period. It depends on when you will have your next period, which is something you can never be sure of. For younger women, especially, this is a very risky approach to birth control, because for the first few years in the woman’s periods will probably be very irregular. Sickness, emotional strain, even a change in the weather can affect the ovulation cycle in women of all ages. Remember, too, that the life of sperm is five to seven days. Trying to figure out the safe period of the month is also called the rhythm method. And it’s very unsafe.

Some people believe that you can rinse out sperm from the vagina and uterus after sexual intercourse. You may have heard that douching, which means squirting a liquid into the vagina, will rinse out the sperm. Or that urinating or taking a bath or shower will wash it out. Douching with a cola is supposed to kill sperm – and it does, but only in a test tube, not a vagina. Some people think that deodorant vaginal suppositories or deodorant vaginal sprays will also kill sperm. Again, none of these are methods for birth control and equally important is the fact that they can be harmful and none of these methods work.

Then there are stories that say you can’t get pregnant depending on how you “do it,” or how often you’ve done it before – that is, have sexual intercourse. Like you can’t get pregnant if you do it standing up. Or you can’t get pregnant if you’re doing it for the first time. We’re going to mention only these two stories, but the list is much longer. Again, a warning: A birth control method that depends on position, or how many times, is no birth control method at all.

Have you ever heard that if you really don’t want to get pregnant, you won’t? Not wanting to get pregnant won’t make it so. It just might result in an unwanted baby. Some people believe that a woman can’t conceive if she doesn’t have an orgasm. That is, reach a very high stage of sexual excitement. But the fact is that whether or not a woman has an orgasm has nothing to do with her ability to get pregnant.

Some couples rely on having the guy pull out – that is, removing the man’s penis form the woman’s vagina just before he thinks he will ejaculate. This is just as risky as any other things we’ve talked about. First, there is usually a drop or two of clear fluid at the tip of the penis that appears before ejaculation, and these drops usually contain a few sperm. Since it takes only one sperm to unite with the egg for pregnancy to occur, ejaculation isn’t always necessary. Sometimes all it takes is putting the penis inside the vagina. Second, ejaculation is often such a powerful physical and emotional feeling that a guy doesn’t have total control over it, no matter what he thinks. Sometimes a man means to pull out, but gets carried away and doesn’t. Also, it’s hard for a guy to know exactly when he’ll ejaculate. Third, if a guy pulls out and ejaculates near his partner’s vagina, a few sperm might mix with the moisture around the vagina and move into it.

Birth control pills are a medically approved birth control that is effective – but only if the pills are taken according to your doctor’s directions. Many people mistakenly believe that being on the pill means taking one a month, or one before sexual intercourse, or one after.

Plastic sandwich wrap around the penis may sound like a good substitute for a condom, but it’s not. It may break, or slip off.

We’re going to end this tape with two important warnings. One goes back to something we said earlier, when we told you that some guys will use certain lines about birth control on girls who don’t want to have sex when they’re not protected against pregnancy. But guys should also be warned that some girls will use lines of their own in situations where they want to have sex and the guy hesitate because neither partner is protected. It works both ways.

The last thing we’re going to say about birth control myths is that we weren’t able to include in this tape all of the stories that are floating around. There are just too many to mention, and there are new ones being invented all the time. If you don’t want to get pregnant or get someone pregnant, be suspicious of any method that isn’t a medically proven effective one. To get information on methods that work to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, please call our tape on birth control information. Thank you.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.