As we were often reminded in our teen years, there is only one way to avoid pregnancy altogether—abstaining from intercourse. However, there are a variety of contraceptive methods that, when used correctly, have a 98% chance of preventing unintended pregnancy.
Maybe you didn’t practice safe sex, or perhaps you tested your luck with a method that “worked for a friend.” Our providers are here to dismiss the myths they often hear during appointments.
"I’ve been on the pill for years, so I’m okay if I’ve missed a few pills here and there.”
Not necessarily true
Sometimes life gets in the way of taking your birth control on time. Maybe your night out with the girls lasted longer than expected, you forgot your birth control at home when you stayed overnight at your significant other’s home, or you were late taking it because your “take your birth control” alarm never went off. Whatever the reason, be sure to know which type of oral contraceptive you are taking and if a backup method is warranted. A long history of being on the pill doesn’t mean you’ve built up the hormones to protect against missing a few of them. It is important to read and adhere to your pill’s instructions and/or contact your doctor if you are uncertain if you are protected.
“I only had sex one time — there’s no way I can become pregnant that quickly.”
It doesn't matter if you've had unprotected sex one time or 200 times, you could become pregnant. Ask your gynecologist which birth control methods are best for you.
“My best friend uses the pull-out method as her form of birth control and it always works for her.”
Every woman is different
The withdrawal method, often referred to as the “pull-out” method, is a form of birth control. However, it is not reliable. This method not only relies on the male’s ability to pull out perfectly every time but doesn’t take into account the fact that sperm is present in the vagina before the male ever ejaculates. According to Planned Parenthood, “About 22 out of 100 women who use withdrawal get pregnant every year — that’s about 1 in 5.”
To prevent an unintended pregnancy, consider wearing a condom in addition to the pull-out method. Perhaps more importantly, the pull-out method does not prevent STDs, so it is always a good idea to wear a condom.
“I have my period, so it is impossible for me to get pregnant.”
Well, it is not impossible
Unless you have some form of hormonal birth control (the oral pill or NuvaRing, for example) that prevents ovulation, women typically ovulate about two weeks before menstruation. However, some women experience an irregular cycle. If you have unprotected sex during your period and end up ovulating within a few days, you could become pregnant. Although this is unlikely, using a backup form of birth control while menstruating is a safe bet.
***An additional tidbit *** Emergency contraception—otherwise known as the morning-after pill—should not be used as a routine form of birth control, but it can prevent pregnancy for up to five days after unprotected sex.
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