Birth Control Facts And Myths

Are these statements myths or facts? Test your knowledge!

1. Myth or Fact? Emergency contraception must be taken within 1 day of unprotected sex.

MYTH – You have up to 5 days (120 hours) to take emergency contraception (EC), but it works best the sooner you take it. EC can help prevent pregnancy after you have unprotected sex or when your birth control method doesn’t work, for example when your condom breaks or you forget your pills. EC is up to 89% effective. You can get EC at a drug store, pharmacy  or at your local Planned Parenthood health center without a prescription.

2. Myth or Fact? Birth control pills protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

MYTH – Birth control pills only protect against pregnancy. They don’t offer any protection from STDs. The only birth control methods that protect against STDs are male condoms and female condoms. Using condoms with another method (like the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, or IUD) is a great way to protect yourself from both STI’S and an unplanned pregnancy.

3. Myth or Fact? You can get pregnant if you have sex on your period.

FACT – You can get pregnant any time you have vaginal sex. Sperm can live for up to five days inside a female’s body. So if you have vaginal sex during your period, and an egg is released within those 5 days, there could still be sperm in your body to fertilize the egg. If you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, make sure to use a birth control method every time you have sex.

4. Myth or Fact? If you wash sperm out of your vagina right after having sex, you can’t get pregnant.

MYTH – There are 200-500 million sperm in each ejaculation, and it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg. After ejaculation, sperm travel quickly through the cervix to the uterus and fallopian tubes. If there’s an egg in the fallopian tubes, sperm could fertilize it. Washing or rinsing the vagina won’t get every sperm cell out of the body and won’t prevent pregnancy.

The only thing you can do to help reduce the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sex is take emergency contraception (EC). You can take EC within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected sex, but it works best the sooner you take it. You can get EC at a drug store, pharmacy, or at your local Planned Parenthood health center.

5. Myth or Fact? The pull-out method (withdrawal) is very effective for most people.

MYTH – Withdrawal is when a male pulls the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation. This method can be difficult to use for most people, because it takes a lot of self-control and knowledge of your own body. Some males aren’t very familiar with their bodies, and it may be hard to know exactly when ejaculation is going to happen. Even if just a little semen is released, there are millions of sperm that can cause a pregnancy. It’s also common for the couple to not want to stop to withdraw when they are in the moment. Other methods (like the condom, pill, implant or IUD) are much more effective at preventing pregnancy. And remember, using the withdrawal method doesn’t protect you from STI’S.

6. Myth or Fact? Using an IUD (intrauterine device) will hurt your chances of having a baby in the future.

MYTH – An IUD is a small t-shaped device that is placed into the uterus by a health care provider. There are different types of IUDs, and they can prevent pregnancy for 3-10 years. Using an IUD does not change your chances of having a baby in the future. They are safe and very effective for females of all ages. You can use this method whether or not you have had any children. You can get an IUD from your health care provider or at your local Planned Parenthood health center.

7. Myth or Fact? The birth control patch stays on in water.

FACT – The patch is a small, plastic patch that sticks to your skin to prevent pregnancy. A new patch is put on each week for 3 weeks, followed by a patch-free week the 4th week. The back of the patch is very sticky. It should stay on your skin even while you shower, swim, or exercise. Just make sure that you put the patch on clean, dry skin without any lotion or oil.

8. Myth or Fact? The birth control ring is uncomfortable or painful.

MYTH – The birth control ring is a flexible, plastic ring that is placed into the vagina for 3 weeks. If the ring is in the right place, it should not be uncomfortable or painful. Most users find that it’s very easy to insert and take out. If it’s in the right place, it also shouldn’t slip out. However, if it does fall out, you can simply wash the ring off with cool water and put it back in the vagina.

9. Myth or Fact? Birth control makes you gain weight.

MYTH – Research shows that most birth control doesn’t make you gain weight. The shot is the only method that may cause weight gain for some users. Each person is different, and not everyone will gain weight using the shot. Talk to a health care provider about which method is right for you.

10. Myth or Fact? The pill can help with acne.

FACT – Hormonal methods (like the pill, patch, and ring) can help with acne. These methods have other benefits too, including more regular periods, less cramping, and lighter menstrual flow. Talk to a health care provider to find out more about these benefits and which method may be right for you.

Developed in collaboration with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles
Find your nearest Planned Parenthood health center at this link.