How do you know that you cannot get pregnant when you are breastfeeding?
Have you also heard from a friend or a close relative that using any birth control pill or contraception can lead to difficulty in getting pregnant in the future?
Do these statements spark your curiosity or do you simply accept them as facts because so many people believe them to be true?
Have you tried to find out whether it is really true or just something that is passed on as ‘Chinese whispers’ from one person to another?
Well, simply accepting a statement presented to you by a close friend might be an easy option to avoid conflict and maintain peace but it can be quite damaging when it concerns matters related to your health & wellbeing. Your health, especially your reproductive health, is an intensely personal matter and it may have long-standing effects on your wellbeing.
Hence, it is important to question the beliefs that are simply passed on from one person to another without any scientific basis to justify them.
So, here we discuss the most popular 5 myths about contraception & birth control with scientific explanation. Keep reading to get your facts right about contraception.
Myth 1: You cannot get pregnant if you are breastfeeding.
This is the most commonly circulated myth about contraception & birth control. But that doesn’t make it a true fact.
Scientifically speaking, you can get pregnant when you are breastfeeding. The chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding are lower but they’re not completely zero in this period.
The reason why it is the most popular myth is that people misunderstand the scientific explanation behind it. Breastfeeding can be an option of birth control if you are following all the mentioned criteria.
- You have not started with your periods since you gave birth to your baby.
- Your last childbirth was less than 6 months back. If it is more than 6 months, use additional contraception even if you have not started with your periods yet. This is because you may still ovulate & conceive even before you get a period.
- Your baby is on exclusive breastfeed and you do not feed him /her anything else.
- You nurse a total of at least 10 hours a day ( with a gap of no more than 4 hours during the day & 6 hours during the night).
- You do not use a breast milk pump.
If you even fail to fulfill one criterion, there are high chances of you getting pregnant and you cannot risk having unprotected sex if you do not want to get pregnant.
Even if you succeed in following all of the mentioned criteria, there are still chances of you getting pregnant and thus breastfeeding cannot be considered as a reliable contraceptive birth control method.
Myth 2: You should not use long-acting birth control if you wish to get pregnant in the future.
One of the other popular myths is that if you use long-lasting birth control options, then it will not be possible for you to get pregnant later when you want to conceive. But this is absolutely baseless because fertility returns soon after you stop using long-acting contraceptives also. So, even if you have plans to conceive and get pregnant in the future, you can still opt for long-lasting birth control methods as long as you want.
Some examples of contraception birth control options that are long-lasting are
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs).
- Hormonal contraceptive implants.
- Birth control injection.
If you have an intrauterine device inserted into your uterus, and you wish to have a baby, then you can consult your doctor and tell them that you want to conceive. The doctor will remove the intrauterine device from your uterus and you can easily conceive and get pregnant because the contraceptive effect wears off soon after it is removed. Do not try to remove the IUD yourself because it can result in complications.
Similarly, if you have a contraceptive hormonal implant in your arm as a long-term birth control option, you could ask your doctor to remove it when you want to get pregnant. You will be amazed to know that you can again have another implant inserted just within a few hours after delivering the baby.
Some people use birth control shots or injections as long-term contraception birth control methods. It is important to note that shots last for about three months and it can take up to about 10 months for those hormones to leave your body. You can get pregnant again when the effect wears off completely.
Myth 3: You will not get pregnant if you have sex during the safe time of the menstrual cycle.
You must have heard a lot of people talk about this with such confidence that sometimes one may think that it is a verified fact. But again, this is no more than a myth.
It is important to understand here that the release of an egg from either one of the ovaries, known as ovulation, is regulated by some hormones, which are
- Follicle-stimulating hormone.
- Luteinizing hormone.
Once released from the ovary, the egg survives in the reproductive tract for ~ 24 hours. On the other hand, the sperms can survive in the female genital tract for ~ 5 to 6 days.
So, for a woman who has regular menstrual cycles of about 28 days, the ovulation would happen around the 14th day. But for someone whose menstrual cycles are shorter, the ovulation would happen earlier & the sperms from an act of sexual intercourse during the later part of the period blood flow (the 5th or 6th day of period) may manage to fertilize the egg and lead to pregnancy.
It’s difficult to predict the actual ovulation time as menstrual cycles may not be regular and are sometimes affected by several factors such as age, food habits, stress, lifestyle changes, etc.
There is no safe time in the menstrual cycle. If you do not want to get pregnant then have protected sex and use various available contraception methods.
Myth 4: You will not get pregnant if your partner pulls out right before ejaculation.
If you think that you are safe because your partner ‘pulls out’ right before ejaculation, then you may be in for a nasty surprise. This so-called contraception method is also known as the withdrawal method.
Many times a male partner persuades the female that he will pull out right before the ejaculation because they think that a condom will interfere with their sexual pleasure. They think that there are no chances of getting pregnant because sperm is not entering the women’s body. This is where the facts start getting wrong.
Before a man reaches climax he releases a fluid called ‘Pre-ejaculate’ that also contains sperm and it can lead to pregnancy. Also, you cannot be sure that you have withdrawn at the right time and some men may not even have the willpower to do so.
Myth 5: You cannot get pregnant if you have sex in certain positions or you urinate just after the sex.
There is another myth that is popular & it mentions that if you have sex in a certain position or you urinate right after the sex, you cannot get pregnant.
People think that if they do sex in some position such as standing up or any other adventurous position, the gravity will do its magic and the sperms will just fall out of the vagina of the woman.
But this is not how things work.
Sperms are motile cells & they can swim really fast!
Immediately after a man ejaculates in the woman’s vagina, sperms start moving up towards the uterus & the region of the fallopian tube in search of an egg, so that it can be fertilized.
That is how nature intended things to work and every single drop of semen & pre-ejaculate contains millions of sperms.
Remember that for pregnancy to happen only One sperm is required to fertilize the egg.
Also, even if you urinate right after the sex, it will not wash out the sperm from your vagina.
People do not have the right information about the female anatomy and that is the reason why this myth is popular. It is important to note that both the urination canal and the birth canal are different in females unlike in a man's body. So, don’t get misled by such information & follow effective contraceptive options for preventing pregnancy as well as STD’s.
It is important to consult your doctor or a healthcare expert to get your facts straight if you find anything less than a scientific explanation related to contraception birth control methods. If you start blindly believing what other people tell you, you might end up with wanted pregnancies.
If you do not want to get pregnant, then choose a birth control option that works best for you and fulfills all your requirements. If you want to be protected from sexually transmitted diseases also, then a condom is the best option.
If you are someone who is looking for a long-term contraception method then you can go for intrauterine devices.
There are a number of contraceptive options to choose from, such as
- Intrauterine devices.
- Hormonal implants.
- Birth control pills.
- Diaphragm or cups.
- Contraceptive hormonal injection.
- Contraceptive patch.
Only rely on scientifically proven & authenticated contraceptive birth control options, not on some popular myths to avoid unwanted pregnancy.
For more information on Contraception & Safe Sex, please check our other videos.
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