Most people get their first bit of information about pregnancy and birth control not from doctors, but from their friends or other people their own age, although some useful information is picked up in this way - but there's a lot of untrue information floating around there too. And these rumours have been around for generations!
So below are the myths and the realities on contraception:-
A girl can't get pregnant when she has sex for the first time.
A woman who is ovulating can get pregnant on her very first time of having sex, regardless of her age or her sexual history.
A girl can't get pregnant if she douches after sex.
Douching does very little to prevent conception. After sexual intercourse, the sperms enter the cervix where they are out of the reach of any douching solution.
A girl can't get pregnant if she doesn't have an orgasm.
Pregnancy occurs when a man's sperm fertilizes a woman's egg. This can happen whether or not she has an orgasm.
A guy can't get a girl pregnant if he doesn't have an orgasm.
It's unlikely that a man will get a woman pregnant if he doesn't have an orgasm - or if he pulls out before he reaches orgasm - but it's certainly not impossible. Men often release a small amount of semen (cum) before they ejaculate. Sometimes this is called "pre-cum". This semen still contains sperm and can certainly get a woman pregnant.
Pregnancy can't occur if people do it standing up or with the woman on top.
Positions make very little difference when it comes to getting pregnant. When a man deposits sperm into a woman's vagina, natural processes guide the sperm towards the woman's cervix and uterus - and whether she's on top, lying down or standing on her head really won't make much of a difference.
Pregnancy can't occur if a couple has sex only on the girl's "safe" days.
Since each woman's menstrual cycle is different, it is almost impossible to predict which days are "safe". Sperm can survive for several days in a woman's body, so a couple could have sex well before the woman ovulates and still run the risk of pregnancy.
The birth-control pill is effective as soon as you start taking it.
Depending on the day a woman starts taking the pills, it might take up to one complete menstrual cycle before you can count on the Pill to prevent pregnancy. She should definitely rely on another method of birth control during this period.
The Pill can only be taken for a limited time.
In most healthy women, the Pill can be taken safely from puberty to menopause, and its effectiveness won't go down as they get older.
The Pill makes you fat.
Studies have found that today's low-dose oral contraceptives won't cause significant weight changes in most women.
The Pill causes cancer.
On the whole, the Pill actually lowers cancer risk. The Pill causes a slight increase in breast cancer in women under 35, but the risk is still tiny. More importantly, the Pill actually cuts the risk of both ovarian and uterine cancers by more than 50 per cent, a benefit that persists even after a woman stops taking it.
Contraceptives protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
The only contraceptive that offers such protection is the condom. Even other barrier methods, such as the diaphragm, do nothing to keep bacteria out of the vagina and the Pill and IUD offer no STI protection at all.
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