8 Pregnancy Prevention Myths: Busted

We’ve caught wind of some pretty wild rumors going around about how to prevent pregnancy with unproven, DIY birth control techniques. In the hopes of squelching this myth perpetuation, we want to remind you that most of them don’t work. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: if you are having sex, using an effective, medically approved method of birth control is the best way to prevent pregnancy. Period. Not to mention none of the following “mythical methods” will protect you against STDs, which is one more reason to use a condom and reliable birth control every single time.

At beforeplay.org, we thought it high time to expose some of the most common misconceptions. We want you all to be safe and know the truth about birth control, pregnancy and STDs, so read on for some serious myth busting using something very powerful: science.

Myth #1: Masturbating before sex.

“If I masturbate before sex, there won’t be any sperm left to get her pregnant.” Sorry, guys. We’re busting this myth and probably busting a few bubbles out there because it simply isn’t so. It just takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, so even if just a small amount of ejaculate makes its way into a woman’s vagina, there is a chance for pregnancy. What’s more, after you masturbate, you will likely need to wait at least a few minutes before you can get hard enough to have sex, and by that time, your semen reserves will have already started to replenish themselves and your swimmers are ready to do their job.

Myth #2: Certain sexual positions.

Quick question: “Are there certain sexual positions that will ensure we don’t get pregnant?” Quick answer: absolutely not. If you have vaginal intercourse, it doesn’t matter if you’re up, down, sideways or even under water, a woman can still get pregnant. The one “position” that won’t cause pregnancy is oral sex because no semen enters the woman’s vagina, though oral sex does have its own set of health risks, including STD transmission.

Myth #3: Pulling out.

When a man pulls out before ejaculating during sex, there is still a chance of pregnancy. While this method, commonly called withdrawal, can be somewhat effective, it’s completely up to the guy to make it happen. Sometimes it can be hard to tell exactly when “the big moment” is going to happen, plus there’s also pre-ejaculate to worry about, which does indeed contain sperm and can lead to pregnancy. Typically, withdrawal is about 78% effective, so, in short, that still leaves a 22% chance of fertilization.

Myth #4: Drinking Mountain Dew.

Lots of people have questioned this popular soda’s ability to lower men’s fertility due to its high caffeine levels, the dyes that give it that neon glow and its use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO), which has been shown to impact reproductive health. But at the end of the day, there is no definitive proof that Mountain Dew can reduce sperm count at all, much less squelch it to zero, which would be the only way it could prevent pregnancy. So remember, if you’re gonna do the Dew, keep it safe and use a condom and a reliable method of birth control.

Myth #5: Smoking marijuana or eating the stems or seeds.

This one is concerning on two levels. First, while there have been studies that show smoking marijuana can lower a man’s testosterone levels leading to lower sperm counts and poor sperm mobility, all it takes is one determined sperm to fertilize an egg. There’s even less evidence of exactly how marijuana might affect a woman’s ovulation—definitely not enough to suggest that it could protect against pregnancy. The same goes for eating marijuana stems or seeds. And second, perhaps even more importantly, drug use and pregnancy just don’t mix. Ever. Excessive drinking or use of controlled substances can have serious, negative effects on your health, and it can also cause complications should a woman become pregnant.

Myth #6: Using makeshift condoms.

We’re not going to beat around the bush here. This doesn’t work. No plastic baggie/rubber band or balloon/twist-tie combination will provide you the protection of a traditional, approved condom. The ones you’ll find on store shelves are electronically tested to meet strict standards of strength and reliability, and there’s no telling how many microscopic holes will be in your own creation. Or how easily it will tear. Or if it will even stay on. Frankly, it also costs about the same amount of money to buy the real thing, so we definitely recommend playing it safe and paying the ~$0.99 to get far more reliable protection. Many health centers will even give you condoms for free. With various sizes and ways to enhance pleasure, there are no excuses, people.

Myth #7: Douching immediately after sex.

Lots of people wonder if douching with either regular douching fluid or bubbly soda water (like Coca-Cola) can get all the sperm out after sex, effectively preventing pregnancy. The truth is that it won’t. Biologically, women’s vaginal muscles contract during an orgasm as the body’s way of bringing the semen toward her eggs, so even if you douche right after sex, some of the sperm will already be too deep to be flushed out. Plus, douching with soda or other liquids not meant for that purpose can cause irritation and infection, so that’s not a good thing either.

Myth #8: Jumping up and down.

We’ll keep this one short. This doesn’t work. You can run a marathon after sex, and it still won’t get the semen out and prevent pregnancy. Male and female reproductive organs are literally designed to get semen in there…and keep it in there. So while we encourage healthy physical activity, don’t count on this to prevent pregnancy.

So that’s the long and short of it. The good news is there are more than 15 other methods that do work really well. Check out our Birth Control Method Selector to find out how effective each legitimate method is, and talk to your health care provider with any questions.