It seems like nowadays everyone has an opinion about sex. How often should you do it to keep your relationship healthy? When are you “ready”? What positions are the best ones? There is a ton of information on the web no matter what sex-related topic you have questions on, and most of the time, those opinions are relatively harmless.
What is harmful is the amount of mis-information related to birth control. If you aren’t ready to have kids, or simply don’t want to, separating fact from fiction is incredibly important. So here are some of the most prevalent myths about birth control, along with some much-needed clarification and debunking.
You’ll Get Pregnant if You Don’t Take the Pill On Time
There is some truth to this – the mini-pill (or progestin only pill) does need to be taken at the same time every day. The combo pill has a more flexibility. If your memory makes you feel 85 at 25, though, think about setting an alarm, or creating a routine that associates your pill with something you do every day, like eating breakfast.
Pro-Tip: Read the section on “What to do if you miss a pill” before you run out and grab a Plan B. Depending on how many you’ve missed and what time of the day it is, there are different instructions to keep yourself on the right birth control path!
Long-term Birth Control Can Affect Fertility
You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it. The idea that birth control hormones will put your reproductive tract permanently out of business is terrifying, and is one of the most commonly accepted myths. You may also have been told that your body needs to take “breaks” from birth control to avoid this complication.
The truth is, most women can get pregnant within a few months of getting off birth control (depending on the kind and how long it takes to get out of your system), no matter how long they’ve been on it.
Pro-Tip: Talk to your GYN doctor. Reading blogs and articles is fun and all, but they went through up to 10 years of medical training and can easily disabuse you of rumors that have no biological basis.
Wearing Two Condoms Reduces Your Risk of Pregnancy
That sounds so logical, but still a big, fat nope on that one. “Double bagging” is a great idea for your groceries, but the friction of two condoms during sex can actually increase the possibility of them tearing, which is pretty much the opposite of the point.
Pro-Tip: If the condoms you’re currently using aren’t comfortable for you, try some different condom options! Extra xxx thin, ribbed, polka dotted, “fire and ice” (it’s real, look it up), there are tons of options to help spice up that rubber safety net.
You Can’t Get the Mirena IUD if You’ve Never Been Pregnant
Up until June, this was the prevailing recommendation! The idea behind this it is that women who have given birth have a larger uterine interior, and easier access, so insertion will be more easy. Some doctors also argue that there is a greater risk of expulsion in women under 25, who are less likely to have kids already.
However, for the discomfort issue, there are smaller IUDs like Skyla and Kyleena available for just this purpose. Also ladies, remember that IUD insertion isn’t nearly as painful as labor! Check out our Mirena side effects page for more info.
Pro-Tip: The first few days after insertion can be uncomfortable. Make sure you have heat pads for the cramps, pads for any bleeding, and ice cream just to make you feel better. Additionally, listen to your doctor when they tell you not to have sex for at least a week. Any penetration of your vagina is likely going to result in discomfort, so it really is better to wait.
The Withdrawal Method is Effective
There are a lot of men out there who wish this one were true. But here are a few reasons why it is not:
First, pre-ejaculate, or liquid that comes out of the penis before orgasm, can have sperm in it. So you aren’t eliminating the whole sperm issue just by pulling out.
Second, you’re asking a man to have a serious amount of willpower, not to mention timing. Call me crazy, but there are bound to be some times where the pulling out doesn’t happen at all.
It’s also warranted to note that the withdrawal method will not prevent sexually transmitted disease transfer.
Pro-Tip: If you and your partner have chosen this method anyways, here are some thing you can do. For the ladies, track your period. There are actually tests you can buy to see if you are ovulating – which means you might want to avoid sex altogether that day. And if you and your partner are choosing not to use condoms, have a backup birth control method, like an IUD, the shot, the pill, or the implant.
Plan B is an Abortion Pill
Okay, that statement is just meant to make you feel all icky inside. The reality is, birth control fails happen! The condom breaks, the diaphragm is left on the dresser, the pill alarm was “snoozed” by accident. However, it can take up to 6 days for fertilization and implantation to occur.
The Plan B or “day after” pill doesn’t abort a pregnancy after conception. Instead, it works by temporarily stopping your body from ovulating, hindering fertilization, and making it difficult for an egg to implant along the uterine wall. If your egg is already fertilized and implanted, Plan B won’t terminate the pregnancy.
Pro-Tip: DO NOT USE PLAN B AS YOUR PRIMARY BIRTH CONTROL METHOD. There are so many other, more effective options out there. The name says it all: Plan B is for when other contraceptive methods don’t go according to plan.
Douching with Coca-Cola Kills Sperm
Douching with Coke was a popular choice back in the 70’s and 80’s, so much so that a group of Harvard researchers decided to put this “spermicide” to the test in 1985. Their study concluded that Coke did kill sperm, Classic Coke being the “best” spermicide when compared to New (or Caffeine-free) Coke and Diet Coke. However, the researchers held that the method couldn’t be an effective contraceptive, because the majority of women will not douche quickly enough after intercourse. The original LA Times article about the study states that “some sperm have completed that journey within 90 seconds after intercourse.”
Douching in and of itself is under a lot of scrutiny these days. It came about as a way to “clean” your nether regions, make them smell and look all pretty for the gentlemen. But nowadays, most doctors will recommend not douching. Douching can actually damage the flora of the vagina that works really hard to do the cleaning for itself!!
Douching has also been linked to fertility issues, increased risk of STIs and vaginal infections. Douching with Coke just takes the issue to a whole other level of OH NO.
If you are sensitive about the smell of your vaginal area, there are things you can do! Switch from silk underwear or thongs to breathable cotton undies. These help wick away moisture and prevent odors. Wash the exterior of your vaginal area gently – there is no need to exfoliate down there! Do not use fragranced products near your vaginal area, even externally. Fragranced lotions, baby powder or deodorant could contain talcum powder, which has been linked to ovarian cancer!
Pro-Tip: If the odor is a serious ongoing problem, or if your natural odor changes significantly, see a doctor. These could be signs of infection, and the doctor may be able to prescribe a medication to help.
Avoid the Myths of Birth Control!
When it comes to birth control, keeping your body safe and healthy is the number one priority. Consult your doctor about any questions you may have, read the literature on your chosen method, and make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you choose. Once you’ve got that covered, you can finally get the focus back on the more fun side of sex: the sex itself.