Pregnancy Prevention Myths

>> Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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I'm so sorry for those of you on the east coast having to endure hurricane Sandy. I hope and pray for comfort and safety to those of you that are there and have family there.

Recent research from the medical literature shows that, out of the top reasons for having sex, having a baby is the least frequently mentioned! Most couples want to enjoy sex without the worry of pregnancy and want the ability to choose when they are ready for pregnancy and childbirth. There are a lot of myths and out-of-date information passed along from friends and family pertaining to methods of pregnancy prevention.

A woman's chances for becoming pregnant are always the same (whether it's the first time or not) – about 1 out of 20. A woman can become pregnant any time after she begins to ovulate, which can mean before she even has her very first period (since she ovulates approximately 14 days before her period begins). She can also get pregnant when nursing an infant, even if her cycles have not returned. Don't ever be pressured by thinking you are too young to get pregnant or even too old. Many women have been pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised.

It amazes me that I still have many patients who feel that douching or jumping up immediately after sex and washing off or changing positions is an effective way to prevent pregnancy. It is impossible to move and get up fast enough. Immediately upon ejaculation, the sperm are deposited into the vagina and swim through the cervix into the uterus and are to the egg to fertilize before we are finished climaxing. So this would not be an effective method of birth control at all!

Among young teens, withdrawal of the male penis just before ejaculation still seems to be a popular method of birth control, and, unfortunately, there are some websites that will support this. Withdrawal has never been a reliable method, and there are several reasons for this. Once a male becomes aroused, he ejects pre-ejaculate fluid and this fluid can contain at least 300,000 sperm! Only one is needed to fertilize a ready and waiting egg. Most of the time the risk is that he doesn't pull out in time, because in the heat of the moment, it is hard to keep control. Even if a man ejaculates outside of the vagina, sperm can swim, so semen anywhere near the vagina can still lead to pregnancy. So, this means that pregnancy can occur even without penile penetration. It is extremely hard to practice withdrawal effectively and especially enough to believe it is a reliable form of birth control.

Many women still believe that they cannot get pregnant during their period, because they believe there will not be an egg available at this time of their cycle. But the truth is, it is possible for a female to get pregnant at any time during her menstrual cycle. Usually, when you are having your period, it means that you are not ovulating and, if this is the case, then you will not get pregnant. But there are women with irregular or shorter cycles that can actually ovulate during their period. It is not guaranteed that you will ovulate mid-cycle. Sperm can live inside a woman's body for to 3-5 days, so if you ovulate anytime within 7 days of having unprotected sex, you could become pregnant.

Honestly, there is no substitution for a condom. Those of you who seriously believe that plastic sandwich bags, balloons or Saran/plastic wrap can be used as substitution for a condom could be in for a baby surprise. The materials these are made of and how they are made are in no way strong enough to resist micro-tears or perforation. If you do not have a reliable birth control method handy, wait or risk pregnancy and STDs.

Okay now, not even adding toothpaste in place of a spermacide with the balloon or plastic wrap will work, as it does not kill sperm - I don't care what you have heard.

Let's just say some of you have heard sneezing, coughing, jumping out of bed really quickly and jumping up and down will work. Or that having sex standing up will either dislodge sperm or push it out. Or that, if standing, the sperm cannot even reach the egg. And, believe it or not, some women believe that placing certain seeds and plants into the vagina during intercourse will prevent pregnancy. Sperm are too quick and too tiny for any of these methods to work. This behavior can be dangerous, as it can be harmful to a woman's body. And still, as silly as it seems, a lot of women believe that if they don't allow themselves to climax during sex, they will not get pregnant. Pleasure has nothing to do with birth control - whether or not you enjoy sex with or without an orgasm, you can still get pregnant.

Douching is never recommended, as it is usually a solution of chemicals or home remedies that can increase chances of vaginal infections, have no effect on pregnancy and increase problems with vaginal odor and discharge.

If you feel a need for feminine cleansing, the WaterWorks system is an all-natural system that uses plain water only, and is reusable, and washable. It gently sprinkles water into the vagina and rinses out unwanted blood or discharge, and removes odor by reaction of the medical-grade FDA-cleared stainless-steel head. Many of my patients and family members are enjoying and finding the benefits of its regular use.

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