Are you unsure of what’s fact and fiction when it comes to contraception? Then let us guide you through the old wives’ tales and gossip.

1 ‘The Withdrawal Method’

Also known as ‘coitus interruptus’ or ‘pulling out’, the withdrawal method is supposed to be a natural contraceptive that works by keeping sperm from entering the vagina. This is achieved by removing the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation.

When typically practiced the failure rate is thought to reach 22 percent so it is not advised as a truly effective contraceptive method. This is because the penis emits pre-ejaculation fluid which can contain sperm throughout sexual intercourse.

However, this method is still adopted by about 4-6 per cent of sexually active couples.

2 ‘Contraceptive Sexual Positions’

Despite what you may have heard, there is no such thing as a contraceptive sexual position. If vaginal penetration occurs, conception is possible, regardless of sexual position.

Myths, such as ‘it isn’t possible to get pregnant from having sex whilst standing,’ or by having the female partner go on top, or by sitting up after sex, are simply not true.

The force behind the ejaculation combined with the position of the penis within the vagina means that sperm will be propelled towards the cervix, no matter what position you are using.

Having sex in the shower, bath or anywhere else does not change this fact.

3 ‘First Time Sex is Safe Sex’

A woman can get pregnant when having unprotected sex regardless of whether or not it is her first time doing so.

It should also be noted that a man can successfully impregnate a woman on their first time having sex too. All it takes for fertilisation to occur is for sperm to come into contact with an egg.

If you are thinking of having sex and it is your first time then you might want to familiarise yourself with the various contraceptives available so that you can protect yourself and enjoy sex safely.

4 ‘The Pill Makes You Put on Weight’

There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that the contraceptive pill will cause an increase in weight.

Most contraceptive pills list weight fluctuations as a potential side effect and women may notice a change in their weight whilst they use the product.

However, it is extremely difficult to establish a link between the two due to external contributing factors such as diet, exercise and metabolism.

If you are concerned that your pill is having an effect on your weight then you should speak to your doctor, who may look to offer an alternative.

5 ‘The Pill Protects Against STIs’

It doesn’t.

The combined oral contraceptive pill is up to 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancies when used correctly.

However, it offers absolutely no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The best form of protection against STIs is a barrier method such as the male or female condom.

It is advisable for all sexually active people to have regular STI screening tests. These can be carried out at your GP practice or at a local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic.

6 ‘It’s Not Possible to Get Pregnant During Your Period’

If you are not using regular contraception then it is possible for you to get pregnant at any point within your menstrual cycle, including during your period bleed.

There is a chance of ovulation happening close to the end of your period, and sperm can remain alive inside the vagina for up to five days.

It is therefore possible for this sperm to come into contact with an egg and fertilise it. If you want to have sex during your period but you do not want to risk an unwanted pregnancy then you should still use some form of contraception.

7 ‘Breastfeeding Is A Contraceptive’

Not always. It is possible for breastfeeding to be used as a contraceptive, but only under specific circumstances.

Known clinically as the lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM), it is a recognised method of contraception and is thought to be over 98 percent effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies when employed correctly.

In order for LAM to be effective, a woman needs to be fully or almost fully breastfeeding day and night, not having a period (amenorrhoeic), and have given birth within the past six months.

If one of the three criteria is not fulfilled then there is an increased risk of pregnancy and another form of contraception should be used.

Page last reviewed:  19/09/2017