Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
Whether you are young or old, in a relationship or not, or considering pregnancy for the future, or trying to avoid it, it’s important that you know the truth about your birth control options.
Birth control is typically thought of as the pill, but birth control really is whatever it is that you are doing to keep from getting pregnant.
There are many forms of man-made contraceptives are on the market today, including the patch, the intrauterine device, the arm implant, the sponge, the latex dome, the cervical cap, the female condom, and the male condom.
Each has been created with the purpose of allowing a couple to engage in intercourse without the worry of getting pregnant.
However, there are also many natural forms of birth control that are used, such as the withdrawal method, the LAM method, the Rhythm method, the FAM method, simple charting, and of course, abstinence.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages, its strengths and its weaknesses. But even more, there are many beliefs had about birth control that are faulty, misunderstood, or just plain not true.
Some of these can be dangerous if not well-understood, and others will simply lead to an unplanned pregnancy because they are more superstitions or stories, than actual fact.
My purpose for writing this article today is to share with you some of the most common misconceptions about birth control that will surprise you.
I believe that you deserve to know the truth, especially when such a decision could affect your health, your life, and your future children.
Birth Control is 99.9% Effective
If only this were true, but dozens of women conceive every year while on some form of contraceptive that was supposed to protect them from getting pregnant.
In truth, 28% of women in America are just on the pill yearly, and statistics show that 6% of those women are still getting pregnant every year. (Statistic Brain)
These statistics are inherently misleading primarily based on the faulty assumption that women can get pregnant throughout their cycles, when in fact, a woman can get pregnant for only about one-fourth of a typical cycle (Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler).
Birth control pills are intended to trick your body into thinking that it’s already pregnant so that it doesn’t release any more eggs each month for fertilization.
However, your body still has a regular cycle with naturally fluctuating hormones, and a period.
If your body were truly pregnant, your uterine lining would thicken, your body would begin focusing all of its energies on feeding and keeping the life inside you alive, most of your nutrients would be headed towards your uterus through your umbilical cord, and your period would stop altogether.
That your period still comes should tell you that your body is still working correctly and having regular cycles. In that regard, wouldn’t your body function normally in every other way as well?
Birth Control Cannot Hurt You
Does this really surprise you? One type of IUD (intrauterine device), the Dalkon Shield, which was introduced in 1970 and recalled in 1975, caused pelvic infections that led to the deaths of 33 women and sterilized many others. (Lifescript)
Although women have many choices in the form of birth control that they use, at least 62% of women in the United States use some form of contraceptive to prevent pregnancy.
Aside from sterilization, our options include such alternatives as a method that infuses the woman’s body with hormones (the Pill), may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer or osteoporosis (Depo-Provera), involves inserting a match-stick size silicone tube under the skin of the arm (Implanon), maintains the uterus in a constant state of inflammation, causing painful periods (the IUD), fills the woman’s body with a latex dome that leaks gooey spermicide for at least 24 hours after intercourse (the diaphragm), can be uncomfortable and cause cervical anomalies (the cervical cap), is notorious for causing female infections (the sponge), completely covers the woman’s parts (the female condom), and places a rubber sheath between the two individuals (the male condom). (Quoted from Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler)
There are many, many records of the destruction contraception methods have injured and even killed many women across the world since its introduction. Check out all of these articles written specifically on accounts of this phenomenon: (just search dangers of birth control)
Why take the risk when it’s so much easier and safer to utilize one of the other more natural methods?
You Can’t Get Pregnant on Your Period
This simply isn’t true, although it would be nice to think so.
The fact is, depending on your specific cycle, you may ovulate late enough that you still have eggs present inside you available to be fertilized, leaving you still fertile at the beginning of or during your period.
For most women, most of the time, they are no longer fertile during this time of the month as the hormones in their bodies supporting a fertilized egg, and possibly a pregnancy have changed over and the body is now sloughing off all of that preparation.
However, it is possible. And remember, sperm can live inside a woman's body for up to five days.
It is also just as likely that you become fertile again just after your period, giving that sperm something to fertilize.
Every woman’s body is different. Through simple charting (Charting Your Fertility), getting to know your cycles, and getting to know your own body, you’ll know exactly when you are fertile and when you aren’t.
You’ll no longer have to guess about what’s happening at any given time during the month.
A Female Can't Get Pregnant If the Male "Pulls Out"
Regardless of any other type of birth control method used by couples across the world, this is one of the most common forms of “birth control” methods used for avoiding pregnancy.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, couples got the idea that keeping the main burst of sperm from entering the woman’s body would prevent her from also getting pregnant.
Unfortunately, this is not as reliable as once thought. Just the initial fluid a man secretes when he gets turned on can impregnate a woman.
This fluid can alone contains at least 300,000 sperm, which is enough to get a small country’s worth of women pregnant.
Although it can help, factoring in the likelihood that a woman is even fertile at the time of intercourse, 4 out of every 100 women will still become pregnant when using this method. (About.com)
But this isn’t the only method attempted by couples trying to be creative.
Do It Under Water
Although this sounds good, having intercourse in water will not prevent a pregnancy.
Doesn’t warm water kill sperm? Well, technically sperm exposed to open water, whether hot or cold, in a pool, Jacuzzi, or bathtub, will only survive for a few minutes.
However, if a man releases his sperm inside the woman, there are no changes to what happens next. Water will not prevent them from making their way to the egg, in fact, the pressure of the water pushing upwards might even help the process out a bit.
But what about the chemicals in the water? Wouldn’t that kill the sperm? Once again, if it is released in open water, yes, with or without chemical exposure.
But sperm released inside a woman will not be affected a bit by the chemicals in the water outside of her body. Good try!
Douching, Showering, or Bathing Can Prevent Pregnancy
If it can go in, it can come back out right? Water can wash off dirt, grime, grease, mud, and just about anything else, it should be able to wash this off as well.
As it is, when a man releases his sperm inside a woman, it goes so far up into her body that water can no longer reach it.
Of course you could douche, but still you are only cleaning essentially the entry way to the home, but the living room and bathroom are way out of reach. And that’s not even where the sperm are racing.
Within seconds of intercourse, they have already made it to the back bedroom, the master bathroom and out into the backyard. There’s no way to douche fast enough to keep sperm from reaching a possible egg ready to be fertilized. (About.com)
So what about a bath? If you submerged yourself in a warm bath, the water could get there and kill the sperm. Maybe? Lol So sorry, but no.
Once again, nature has a way of surviving, even in the harshest of environments. Immediately upon release, those sperm head the direction that mature intended and within moments, they are beyond reach.
If it’s any consolidation, once they have done their job, the rest will dissolve, be absorbed, or slide right back out. This is not a reliable method of birth control.
The Right Positions Can Prevent Conception
There’s also the belief that by having intercourse standing up, with the woman on top, or in another position where she is in a more upright way, the sperm will not be able to reach their destination as easily because gravity will pull them back downward.
In truth, the positions you choose to use have nothing to do with whether or not fertilization occurs.
You could jump up and down before, during, and after intimacy and it wouldn’t change the path that sperm are going to take to reach that egg.
The only position in regards to intercourse that will keep you from getting pregnant for sure is a position of abstinence.
Don’t rely on this belief as a method of contraception. If abstinence isn’t an option, consider one or more of the previous contraception methods we have discussed instead.
You Can’t Get Pregnant the First Time
Many girls think that because it is their first time, everything hasn’t started working like it’s supposed to quite yet. They surely don’t have a regular cycle yet, so they can’t possibly be able to get pregnant.
This is not the case though. If you are having a period, your body has already started ovulating, already started preparing for pregnancy, and your period is the result of that preparation shedding out of your body.
From the moment your body starts this cycle, even the first time, it’s doing exactly what it is supposed to do effectively and efficiently.
This means, even from that very first cycle, you are able to get pregnant. Given that your first time having intercourse probably isn’t on your very first cycle, your body has already been on this cycle at least a handful of times already.
What’s to stop you from getting pregnant then?
Birth Control Pills Can Be Used to End a Possible Pregnancy
This is something I’ve just read about in an article on Lifescript.com in which they describe “regular birth control pills” as a dose of progesterone that may reduce the risk for pregnancy by 75% if it’s taken within five days of having unprotected sex. (Lifescript)
The thought is that as birth control pills mimic the hormones present in pregnancy so that you don’t release any eggs, that they can also trick your body into letting go of a fertilized egg. But that doesn’t really make sense does it?
If birth control pills make your body think it’s pregnant, you’d think that they would help your body to protect, and even nurture a fertilized egg.
The science simply doesn’t work, and there’s no proof that it does.
Oral contraceptives don't cause miscarriages because they do not have any effect on a fertilized embryo. Birth control pills — generally made of estrogen and progestin (synthetic progesterone) — essentially prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation and/or causing the cervical mucus to thicken. It is also unlikely that taking the pill will have any effect on fetal development. (Columbia.edu)
However, taking the pill can be life threatening to the mother if taken to end a pregnancy.
If a sperm does fertilize an egg, the newly conceived egg may be transported more slowly through the fallopian tubes because of how they have been altered by the pill. Because the mucus in the fallopian tubes has changed and thickened, the egg may actually implant there, causing an ectopic or “tubal” pregnancy, which is fatal to the baby, but can also be life-threatening for the mother. (Chastity.com)
Birth control is NOT a reasonable way to try and end a possible pregnancy.
It sounds as if all of these methods were considered without regard to the natural course of our bodies in trying to make a baby.
Not only are some of these myths unreasonable, but they can even be dangerous, and even fatal.
Contraceptives have been proven to be unsafe, but in the hands of young women that don’t know what they are messing with, they can be even more dangerous.
I’m not going so far as to say that all contraceptives, in the hands of all people, are dangerous, but I do suggest, and even highly advise that you get all of the facts before using something on yourself or giving it to your children.
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© 2014 Victoria Van Ness
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on January 19, 2014:
Lol I'm glad you liked that. :) It was difficult saying what I needed to in order to make sense all the while keeping it as G rated as possible. I'm so glad you understood and enjoyed it.
Thank you for the comment!
kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on January 19, 2014:
Very well done and you had me smile when you explained the run of the spermatozoids that within seconds of intercourse are already to the back bedroom, the master bathroom and out into the backyard... great analogy :-))) Thank you for sharing!
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on January 18, 2014:
Thanks!! I totally agree.
Mary Kelly Godley from Ireland on January 18, 2014:
Good article. There is no perfect solution unfortunately and everyone has to try and decide what works for them. Voted up.
Victoria Van Ness (author) from Fountain, CO on January 18, 2014:
I agree. I already have a few friends that I have recommended this article. :)
Thanks for your comment!
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 18, 2014:
A very well done article. I hope it gets a lot of readers. It is some serious stuff manipulating our human bodies and we should be very aware when doing it.