Did you know that in ancient China, concubines drank mercury and lead to prevent pregnancy? Or that as recently as the 60s, women used coca-cola as a contraceptive?
We haven’t always been as clued up about our sexual health as we are today, but even in 2014 there are plenty of funny stories and beliefs surrounding contraception that just won’t go away.
With this in mind, we have put together a list of some of the more common myths about contraception:
MYTH: It is safer if you use two condoms
Wearing two condoms is not safer than one as they are more likely to split due to friction. Always just use one at a time and put it on carefully, making sure there are no air bubbles at the end.
MYTH: Using a balloon or cling film works just as well as using a condom
Not only are these unsuitable barriers for preventing pregnancy, they will not protect you against STIs. You can pick up condoms that have passed European safety standards from the NHS Freedoms shop.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex whilst on your period
Many men and women believe this, but it isn’t true at all. Women can get pregnant at any time during their menstrual cycle. Sperm can live inside a woman’s body for up to 5 days. If you ovulate within 7 days of having unprotected sex then you run the risk of becoming pregnant.
MYTH: A woman can’t get pregnant if the male withdraws before ejaculation
A very clear myth. Once men reach arousal they produce sperm that is released as pre-ejaculation fluid. This fluid contains hundreds of thousands of sperm and it only takes one of those to fertilise an egg. Remember that sperm can swim so if, in the heat of the moment, he doesn’t pull out in time or ejaculates near to the vagina, then there is a risk of pregnancy. It is also worth noting that this method will not protect you against catching an STI.
MYTH: Douching, showering or urinating after sex will protect you against pregnancy
Sperm travels so quickly that it is impossible to douche fast enough to prevent it from fertilizing an egg. Urinating or showering will not wash out the sperm, nor will having intercourse whilst in water create a barrier against sperm. It is worth bearing in mind that having sex in swimming pools or Jacuzzis could also lead to infection from chemicals or bacteria in the water.
MYTH: Being on the pill means that no extra contraception is required
Whilst the pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, it does not protect against STIs. Also, if a woman is sick or on certain medications it can alter the effectiveness of the pill. Condoms should be used to prevent STIs and as extra protection in case of missed pills etc.
MYTH: The only contraception choices are condoms or the pill
Although these are the two most common, there are actually 15 methods of contraception in total available in the UK, including injections, patches, diaphragms and coils. If you’re unsure what would best suit you then visit your GP or local family planning clinic for advice or for more information take a look here.
MYTH: Having sex whilst standing up is an effective method of contraception
No matter which position you have sex in, if you are doing it without any form of contraception then you run the risk of both pregnancy and STIs.
MYTH: A woman is more protected, the tighter the condom fits her partner
The theory is that the tighter the condom, the less likely sperm is to seep out or for the condom to slip off during intercourse. However, in reality, a condom that is too tight is likely to break during sex.
Whichever contraception you decide to use, you should be fully aware of how to implement it AND of any possible side effects. Follow the instructions for use carefully, unless it is a contraceptive that you don’t need to remember to take, such as the implant, injection or the coil. No contraception is 100% effective and only condoms will actually help to prevent STIs so always bear this in mind when having sex.