Dispelling the Myths about Pregnancy Risk and Sex
From the time we are kids to the early and late days of adulthood, we are fed a variety of truths and misconceptions about sex. While some may stick out as obvious mistruths, others may walk the fine line more subtly. When it comes to sexual health, this is one area that you want to fully understand before taking the plunge. Without proper knowledge you may be putting yourself and your partner’s health in danger.
Myth: If I had herpes I would know it just by looking.
Fact: The majority of people with the genital herpes actually do not know they have it and may never show symptoms. The herpes virus can actually be spread even when a condom is worn. If an outbreak (small blister-like sores) is occurring, simply having direct skin-to-skin contact with the sore can be enough to spread the virus so if the outbreak occurs around the genitals, where the condom would not cover, it will not be able to protect the area.
What you can do: Always use a condom. It will lower (but not erase) the chance of getting genital herpes along with many others STDs and unplanned pregnancy. Be open and honest with your partner and your sexual history. If you are starting a new relationship, it’s a good idea to go and get tested together, this way you will be sure you are both healthy and will not pass an STI (sexually transmitted infections) or STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) back and forth. There is no cure for genital herpes but if you or your partner is infected, there are precautions you can take to help keep them protected.
Myth: You can’t become pregnant when you have your period.
Fact: While it is very unlikely to happen, pregnancy can occur at nearly any point during the menstrual cycle. Unprotected sex statistically results in pregnancy 1 out of 20 times. No when a woman is menstruating, this chance drops drastically but it is important to remember that an egg can live in a woman’s fallopian tube for 24 hours and a man’s sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days. If the conditions are just right, the egg and the sperm can join even during menstruation (mainly those 24 hours). If the egg is not joined by a sperm in that window of time, it will be shed along with the lining of the uterus.
What you can do: Always play it safe – if you are not actively trying to conceive a child make sure to take your birth control pills or use a condom. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Myth: The morning after pill is the same as an abortion.
Fact: Emergency contraception, often referred to as the “morning after pill,” helps prevent the egg and sperm from ever joining in the first place but is often confused with RU487, which is a pill used for medical abortion. The two are different medications with different purposes. The purpose of EC is to take the pill (or pills depending upon the product) as a backup in case a routine form of birth control fails. It is a higher dose of hormone (essentially like a stronger birth control pill) and helps to prevent pregnancy. There are two main options on the market today, Plan B One-Step® which is effective for up to three days after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure and ella® which is the newest EC product and is effective for up to 5 days after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.
What you can do: Make the decision that is the right one for you. If you are afraid you could be pregnant from an unprotected sexual episode, do the research and know your options.
A healthy sex life can be both a great and scary thing. Entering that level of intimacy takes a large amount of trust between both partners. Understand your risks and take precaution to enjoy it to the fullest.