6 Birth Control Rumors Explored

Your reproductive system is one of the most fragile systems in the body, according to the Office of Women's Health (OWH). Yet, every day women make birth control decisions without all the facts. Your gynecologist is one of your best allies when it comes to choosing contraception. In the meantime, here are six essential things you should know about birth control.  

1. The Pill Isn't for Every Woman

While the pill is the most common form of birth control used by women, it may not be right for you. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the choice of contraception depends on factors such as your overall health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family history of certain diseases.

Also, you may not be able to take the pill because of the side effects, or a medical condition such as blood clots, certain types of cancer and migraine headaches, or unexplained vaginal bleeding. If you can't take the pill, other birth control available to you include the diaphragm, cervical cap, intrauterine device (IUD), female condoms, birth control patches and surgery.

Keep in mind that these other methods (with the exception of female condoms) do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and each of them has risks. Speak to your doctor to determine the best choice of birth control for you.

2. You Can Get Pregnant During Your Period

While the risk is small, it is possible to become pregnant if you have sex during menstruation, especially if you have a short menstrual cycle, such as 21 or 22 days instead of 28 days. Sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for four to five days. When your cycle is short, you may ovulate a few days after your period ends; the sperm would still be alive and could fertilize an egg, causing a pregnancy.

If you don't want to become pregnant it's best to use contraception such as the pill or condom when you're having sex during your period.

3. Pre-ejaculation Fluid Can Cause Pregnancy

The withdrawal method or coitus interruptus is when a man withdraws his penis from his partner's vagina before ejaculation. According to the Mayo Clinic, less than four percent of American couples use it as a form of contraception. And with good reason - it has a high failure rate.

According to Dr. Roger Harms, a Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief, about 27 percent of women become pregnant each year using the withdrawal method because pre-ejaculation fluid may contain sperm.

4. Pregnancy Can Still Occur After a Vasectomy

The vasectomy procedure is more acceptable for many men these days. It is one of the most successful forms of birth control, with a failure rate of less than 1 percent. However, it is still possible for a woman to become pregnant during the months following a vasectomy as semen can still be in a partner's sperm.

Make sure your partner has his semen tested to see if it contains sperm before you stop using birth control. Also, while it is rare, the vas deferens can grow back over time, which may cause a pregnancy if you have unprotected sex.

5. A Tubal Ligation Can Reverse on Its Own

If you have your fallopian tubes tied, or a tubal ligation, eggs cannot travel down to the uterus where they can be fertilized. While a tubal ligation is an efficient form of birth control with a 99 percent effectiveness rate, it is possible for the tubes to fuse back together over time, which may allow a pregnancy to occur. However, this is more likely for women who have their tubes tied when they're young, not for older women.

6. Plan B Isn't the Only Form of Emergency Birth Control

Plan B, or the "morning after pill," is a set of two pills that must be taken within a few days (the sooner the better) after you've had sex. The pills are high-dose progestin-only pills that prevent the egg from leaving the ovary, or the sperm from joining the egg, explains the OWH.

Taking a higher dose of regular birth control pills is another form of ECP. You must use the same brand of the active pill (not reminder pills). Take one dose right away and the next dose 12 hours later.

ParaGard, or the copper IUD is another form of emergency birth control. It must be inserted within five days of having unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy. The IUD prevents sperm from joining the egg or a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, explains the OWH. It can be removed after your next period, or can be left in for up to 10 years.