Let’s face it: most of us have had some gaps in our sex ed. It’s a complex subject, and one a lot of people get uncomfortable talking about. Unfortunately, this has led to some pregnancy myths circling around out there that we need to bust. Don’t get fooled by the old wives’ tales: here is our Lifeline Mythbusters: Getting Pregnant Edition.
MYTH: I can’t get pregnant the first time I have sex.
This is 100% false. There’s nothing different about the first time as far as conception is concerned. Plenty of other factors influence how likely someone is to get pregnant, but whether it’s the first time or the fiftieth time doesn’t make a difference.
MYTH: I can only get pregnant around Day 14 of my cycle.
For “textbook woman,” ovulation occurs around the 14th day of her cycle. Ovulation is when one (or more) of the ovaries releases an egg that could then be fertilized by sperm if that woman has sex. But we’re not all textbook women. Some women have longer cycles, some shorter, and some experience very different length cycles from month to month. A woman could ovulate on Day 14, or 7, or 20, or 28…you get the idea. Plus, sperm can live inside the female reproductive system up to 5 days, and the egg remains for about two days after ovulation before it gets reabsorbed back into the body. Even if a woman did ovulate exactly on Day 14, if she had sex within five days or so before that or a few days after, she could conceive. There’s really about a week’s worth of time that we could get pregnant based on all of those variables.
MYTH: I can’t get pregnant on my period.
It’s less likely to get pregnant during that good ol’ time of the month, but it’s definitely possible. Like we talked about with the last myth, some women ovulate early, and sperm can live inside the body for a few days if the conditions are right. For example, if a woman had sex on Day 4 during her period and ovulated on Day 8, it’s possible she could get pregnant.
MYTH: I can only get pregnant using certain positions.
No matter how sperm enters a woman’s reproductive system, there’s a chance of conception. Sperm can swim in multiple directions, so although some positions may increase the likelihood of the sperm reaching the egg, the possibility of pregnancy is there no matter the position.
MYTH: I won’t get pregnant if I use birth control.
Contraceptives, such as condoms or the birth control pill, can reduce the likelihood of getting pregnant when used consistently and correctly. However, they aren’t a 100% no-pregnancy guarantee. Each type of birth control has a typical use failure rate, which is how many pregnancies result even while using that method. If you have questions, talk to your doctor about the effectiveness of birth control options.
Side note: It’s also important to know that condoms are the only type of contraceptive that provide any protection against STIs/STDs. Condoms can reduce the risk of contracting an STI by about 85%, but there’s still a 15% chance of infection. Other birth control methods such as the pill don’t protect against these infections.
MYTH: I can’t get pregnant if I’m breastfeeding.
When a woman breastfeeds, her body usually does not ovulate or have a period. However, like all of these other myths we’ve discussed, it’s not a 100% guarantee that she won’t ovulate and get pregnant. Even if a woman’s period hasn’t returned yet after breastfeeding, her ovaries could release an egg which would mean a period is around the corner, unless she has sex and conceives before that period happens.
Hopefully this edition of Lifeline Mythbusters helps fill in some of those knowledge gaps we may have about our bodies. The reproductive system is complex, and fascinating to research. Arm yourself with knowledge: keep asking questions, and ask people you trust! A Google search can be helpful, but it’s also easy to find faulty info that just feeds those pregnancy myths. If you have questions about pregnancy, our certified nurses at Lifeline Pregnancy Help Clinic would love to meet with you. Call or make an appointment today to learn about our no-cost, confidential resources.