From coitus interruptus (a fancy name for the withdrawal method) to the power of douching, there are a lot of myths out there about how to prevent unintended pregnancy without using birth control. Guess what? They don’t work. If you want to have a healthy sex life, you need to know the facts about safe sex and dispel the myths about contraception.

  • Douching prevents pregnancy? No way. Douching is useless both for hygiene and birth control purposes. If you’ve heard that douching — with vinegar, Coca-Cola, commercial douches, or anything else — prevents pregnancy, don’t believe it. By the time you finish with intercourse and douche, many sperm have already begun their trip toward the egg and are beyond your ability to flush them out. In fact, some experts think that women should avoid douching even for personal hygiene because they kill helpful bacteria.

  • You can’t get pregnant the first time? Oh, yes you can. Another myth that has gotten a lot of women in trouble is that a woman can’t get pregnant from her first attempt at sexual intercourse. A virgin may bleed or suffer a little discomfort, but this is entirely irrelevant to the joining of sperm and egg. First-timers have to take the same precautions as everyone else.

  • Can you get pregnant if you don’t orgasm? Absolutely. You can get pregnant without orgasms. It’s true that the vaginal contractions of orgasm cause the cervix to dip into the pool of sperm-laden semen at the bottom of the vagina and can help foster pregnancy. Nevertheless, some of the sperm are going to make their way up the cervix whether the woman has multiple orgasms or none at all.

  • But we were standing up, so the sperm can’t get there, right? NOT right. Some people think that sperm can’t defy gravity, so if the couple has sex standing up, she won’t get pregnant. Wrong again, folks. Those sperm are strong swimmers and can go upstream as well as down.

  • Aren’t pregnancy and periods incompatible? Not at all. Some people trust that if a woman is menstruating, then she can’t become pregnant. Although menstruation does limit the odds of becoming pregnant, it’s not a 100 percent, surefire way to prevent pregnancy. Some women have irregular bleeding, which isn’t true menstruation. Misinterpreting this bleeding can throw off your strategy for preventing pregnancy.

  • Doesn’t pulling out prevent pregnancy? Not the tiniest bit. Pulling out is no protection. In fact, the so-called withdrawal method is the most dangerous of myths, which has caused more pregnancies than any other. Men may believe that they have great control over their ejaculations and that, as soon as they feel their orgasm coming, they will remove the penis from the vagina so she won’t get pregnant.

    This theory has a lot of holes in it:

    • In the first place, a lot of men who think they have matters under control don’t. They wind up ejaculating before they can pull out.

    • Some men, in the heat of excitement, forget their promise and don’t pull out.

    • Even if the man does pull out before he ejaculates, it’s already too late. There is pre-ejaculatory fluid that may pick up sperm left inside the urethra from previous ejaculations, and those sperm are already making their way up into the uterus long before the man withdraws.

None of these myths even mention sexually transmitted diseases. No matter what you are doing to protect against pregnancy, you should always use a condom if there’s any risk of contracting an infection.

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