By Eileen Bailey
Throughout our lives, women and girls share information on when the best time of the month is to get pregnant, and when it is safe to be intimate without worrying about getting pregnant. But many of these theories are false and end up causing unwanted and unplanned pregnancies. The following are five common myths surrounding getting pregnant.
Myth #1 - You cannot get pregnant if you are having your period.
It is commonly thought that a woman is fertile and able to get pregnant between the 10th and 17th day of their cycle. According to this theory, it would not be possible to become pregnant during your period, which is the beginning of the monthly cycle. A study completed in 2000 by the National Institute of Environmental Sciences shows this is not necessarily true. Two percent of the women participating in the study entered their fertile cycle four days into their cycle and an additional 17% of the women became fertile by the seventh day. Sperm can live inside a woman for five days. If this is added to the early fertile time, women can become pregnant even if they engage in sexual intercourse during their period.
Myth #2 - Pregnancy can be avoided if your partner "pulls out" before ejaculation.
This myth is false for a number of different reasons. The first reason is that a small amount of fluid is released before ejaculation. This fluid can contain sperm and can cause pregnancy. The second reason is that for some men, ejaculation can occur without much warning (this happens more often in younger men) and there may not be enough time to pull out. The third reason is that even if there is no sperm or fluid released before ejaculation and the man does pull out, if ejaculation occurs close to the vagina, sperm can still swim into the vagina and cause pregnancy.
Myth #3 - If a woman showers or douches right after sex, it will wash out any sperm and will prevent pregnancy.
Sperm are very quick swimmers. It takes only a second for them to swim to the cervix after ejaculation. By the time a woman gets up, goes into the bathroom and turns on the shower, pregnancy could have begun.
Douching can cause yeast infections and should only be done under the advice of a physician. A recent trend of douching with Coca-Cola is also not effective in preventing pregnancy and can still cause infections.
Myth #4 - Pregnancy does not happen the first time you have sex or Pregnancy does not happen unless you have sex on a regular basis.
Once a girl reaches puberty and begins to get her period, she can get pregnant. During the fertile cycle, a woman (or girl) can get pregnant. If sex occurs (even if it is the first time or if you have intercourse infrequently) during the fertile cycle, a woman can get pregnant. Fertile cycles can begin as early as the fourth day of a menstrual cycle up to the 60th day of a menstrual cycle. Anytime within your fertile cycle, the chances of getting pregnant are high.
Myth # 5 - Pregnancy only happens after a certain age and ends when a woman reaches 40.
It is possible to become pregnant from your first period until one year after your last period stops. Young girls have fertility cycles after their first menstrual cycle. It is possible for them to become pregnant immediately after their first period.
Although fertility slows down as a woman becomes older, pregnancy is still possible. Even after your period has stopped, it is possible to become pregnant for up to one year.
Pregnancy is possible from the time a girl gets her first period until one year after periods stop.
It is possible to prevent pregnancy with natural birth control and there is only one sure method of doing so. This is called abstinence. All methods of birth control have some risk (even though it may be an extremely small risk for methods such as birth control pills) of pregnancy. Every sexual intercourse encounter holds a possibility of a pregnancy.
The Timing of the "Fertile Window" in the Menstrual Cycle, Wilcox et al, 2000, National Institute of environmental Health Sciences
Contraceptive Myths, 2005, Cleveland Clinic
I Can't Get Pregnant If..., Planned Parenthood, Rochester, Syracuse Region
Fertility and Infertility Myths, Electronic Infertility Network