6 Myths About Getting Pregnant You Need To Stop Listening To ASAP, According To An Expert
I don't know about you, but my middle school and high school sex education classes consisted of us girls being taught that we were like "flowers." We were given three strict rules: Nothing below the neck, nothing laying down, and nothing comes off. Suffice it to say, I learned nothing valuable. Instead, I learned several myths about getting pregnant that just were not true, because unfortunately, there are lots of misconceptions when it comes to pregnancy and sex education.
Seriously, my school's decision to teach abstinence-only sex ed probably did more harm than good. It failed to teach me about the lies surrounding sex and how you can get pregnant. Being a girl is tough and confusing enough as it is, so the last thing we need is to be bogged down by misinformation. How can anyone deem it unnecessary to educate women on how their bodies work, or how to safely prevent pregnancies?
We all deserve to have the facts we need to live our must fulfilling lives. To clear up some of the most common sex myths, I spoke with Dr. Stefani Threadgill, a sex therapist and sexologist, about what's really going on in our bodies when it comes to sex, pregnancy, and beyond.
Myth: You Can't Get Pregnant On Your Period
A common question people have about pregnancy is whether or not you can actually get pregnant if you have sex during your period. It's a fair question, and one that you should definitely learn the answer to, because it's tricky. Threadgill says you can get pregnant, "but it is unlikely." According to the American Pregnancy Association, most women's cycles last between 28 and 30 days. If that's you, then the chances of you getting pregnant from period sex are slim. But, if you're someone with a shorter cycle (21-24 days), your odds are higher.
Case in point: Even if you're going to have sex on your period, use protection.
Myth: There's No Way You Can Get Pregnant If You Have Sex In A Hot Tub
Now, this is really a two-part question. The worry is that you can become pregnant just by chilling in a communal hot tub from leftover sperm that someone else left floating around. But Planned Parenthood's website (always coming in clutch) says you shouldn't be too concerned. "Sperm can live outside the body for a short time under the right conditions," they say, "However, the temperature in a hot tub is too high for sperm to survive. Even in a bath tub at body temperature, water is not a good element for sperm to survive in."
But if you're going to have actual sex in a hot tub, take precautions. Threadgill warns that "sex in a hot tub or bath/shower eliminates lubrication, increasing the risk of condom breakage." Basically, have a backup method at the ready if you're not trying to conceive.
Myth: Spotting Means You're Not Pregnant
Spotting might be a concern for you if you're pregnant, or trying to become pregnant. The thing is, though, there are lots of reasons you're spotting, and most of them are usually harmless.
Even if you're pregnant and you find that you're spotting, Parents magazine says you're probably OK. Most women exhibit some form of spotting during the early stages of pregnancy, the magazine reports. In fact, it "occurs for nearly one-third of all moms-to-be and often poses no threat to mom or baby." Phew! Threadgill agrees, simply saying that just because you spot, doesn't mean you're not pregnant.
Nevertheless, it's good to understand the signs that bleeding or spotting during pregnancy might be something you do have to worry about. "Signs that bleeding is due to serious conditions such as miscarriage, problems with the placenta, or preterm labor, include heavy bleeding (similar to menstrual bleeding), bleeding in conjunction with cramps and/or fever, or bleeding and passing some tissue," Parents reports. "The color of the blood is also important: Blood that's bright red is usually more worrisome than blood that's brownish."
Myth: Birth Control Can Make You Infertile
Another common myth that women hear a lot is that taking birth control for a long period of time can lower your chances of getting pregnant, or even make you infertile when you do want to conceive. But according to Threadgill, birth control won't make you infertile. It just "may take several months after discontinuing birth control pills if you are trying to get pregnant," she says.
So if you're trying to conceive, but you just got off the pill, it's normal for it to take a while.
Myth: Turning "A Certain Age" Makes You Infertile
Most women have, at some point in their lives, heard, "you're not getting any younger," either directed toward them or another fellow female. And while it's easy to fall into the falsehood that a woman turning 40 years old, or even 50, means she stops being able to conceive, this isn't exactly the case.
"There is not a defining number," Threadgill says, when it comes to the correlation between a woman's age and infertility. "But a woman’s eggs are less viable as she ages; however, there are medical procedures that can increase the chances of older women getting pregnant."
Myth: You Can't Get Pregnant The First Time You Have Sex
Obviously, most pregnancies happen from sex, but a lot of young women who are having sex for the first time don't realize that you can, in fact, get pregnant the first time you have sex, Threadgill says.
Now, the first time you have sex might be a big deal for you, so you'll probably be preoccupied with a lot of other technicalities. But do know that you can always get pregnant from unprotected sex, even if it's your first time.
What Are The Best Ways To Prevent Pregnancy?
Birth control and condoms are your best bet. "Birth control pills prevent user error of condom use," Threadgill says, "However, they do not prevent STDs. I recommend both if you are having casual sex." Threadgill also warns against the possibility of "men removing condoms mid-sex," which very much can increase your chances of an unplanned pregnancy. Also, that's commonly referred to as "stealthing," and it's a form of sexual assault that is never OK.
If you aren't having sex, then you aren't going to get pregnant. Unless you're in some kind of Jane The Virgin scenario, in which case, please submit yourself for a documentary because I would definitely watch that.
Sex, pregnancy, and womanhood in all its glory can be complicated. But if you have questions, please don't be afraid to ask them. And don't just rely on your friends to tell you all you need to know. There are people whose jobs are about making sure you're taking care of yourself, so reach out to a professional if you ever have doubts.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!