1. Health

Top 10 Contraceptive Myths

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Updated April 17, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

During the last hundred years, women were led to believe much about reproductive health that was simply untrue. Young girls were taught that menstruation was unmentionable -- a curse. Pregnant women in labor were often told to put a knife under their bed to "cut the pain." In the early 1900s, birth control was illegal. Great controversy and debate over contraceptive use, even in marriage, existed. Learn about these 10 contraceptive myths.

1. I Won't Get Pregnant Having Sex On My Period

Many women believe that having unprotected sex during menstruation or during the first or last part of their menstrual cycle will keep them from becoming pregnant. While many women may be more likely to become pregnant mid-cycle, the chance of conceiving may be higher than previously thought at any time of the month. Another fact to know: Sperm can live up to 5 days in a woman's body.

2. Breastfeeding My Baby Protects Me From Pregnancy

While ovulation and menstruation are not likely to happen while you are regularly breastfeeding your baby, eventually menstruation will return and you may ovulate without knowing it. So, yes it is possible to become pregnant while still breastfeeding your child.

3. He Always Pulls Out Before He Ejaculates, So I Won't Get Pregnant

This is one of the biggest falsehoods that women believe. Yes, you can get pregnant even if your boyfriend or husband pulls out before ejaculation. Before ejaculation occurs, a small amount of lubricating fluid, which contains sperm, is released. Any vaginal penetration by the penis can result in pregnancy, even if he always pulls out before ejaculation.

4. Using Vaginal Douches After Sex Can Prevent Pregnancy

Vaginal douching, or taking baths or showers after sexual intercourse, will do nothing to help prevent pregnancy. That's because the sperm has already traveled up towards the egg.

5. I Won't Get Pregnant The First Time I Have Sex

If you have started your period, you can get pregnant. Generally, younger girls are more fertile than older women and can get pregnant very easily. Don't believe anyone who tells you that you won't get pregnant "just this one time." Insist on protection!

6. I Won't Get Pregnant or Get STDs, I'm On The Pill

Yes, it's true that the Pill is an effective method of birth control when used properly; however, the Pill does not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. The only 100 percent foolproof method of preventing an unwanted pregnancy or STDs is abstinence.

7. I Had Unprotected Sex Only One Time

One time is all it takes to get pregnant or to get a STD. Don't let anyone talk you into having unprotected sex even once, or you may pay for a lifetime through an unplanned pregnancy and the resulting consequences. Take care of yourself and your body and refuse unprotected sex.

8. I'm Too Old To Get Pregnant

As long as you are having periods, you can become pregnant. While it is true that the older you get the less fertile you are, you must consider yourself fertile and able to get pregnant until you have been without periods for at least one full year.

After one year without periods, you can forget about birth control and enjoy unprotected sex as long as you are in a monogamous relationship.

9. I Don't Have Sex Often Enough To Use The Pill

If it is hard to know when you are going to need to use birth control, try using condoms or the Today Sponge. Both can be saved for use when needed. The Sponge offers the benefit of 24-hour protection, so you can insert it in the morning and be protected all day.

If you use condoms, do not carry them around in your pocket or purse. In addition, using a spermicide with condoms increases their effectiveness.

10. I've Had Lots Of Female Problems, So I Don't Think I Can Get Pregnant

Unless your doctor has told you that you cannot get pregnant, you need protection. Even if your doctor has told you that you "probably won't get pregnant" without surgery or treatment, use birth control -- my only grandchild was conceived under such circumstances.

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