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I’ve heard so many different myths about pregnancy. What’s true and what’s false?

Below we separate fact from fiction.

Myth: You can get pregnant from dry sex, or going through the motions of sex with clothes or underwear on.

Truth: Overall, dry sex is a very safe sexual behavior that couples can do together. Whether there’s a risk for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) really depends on how much clothing the people are wearing. If a couple keeps their clothes on, the risk of pregnancy or disease is zero. Sperm, viruses and bacteria can’t get through layers of fabric. Dry sex or body rubbing with no clothes on can be riskier. If a partner with a penis ejaculates onto the vaginal opening, sperm could enter the vagina, travel up through the reproductive system and fertilize an egg if ovulation recently occurred. Also, some infections, such as herpes and HPV, can spread through skin-to-skin contact, even if the penis isn’t inserted into the vagina.

Myth: You can get pregnant from performing oral sex on a person with a penis.

Truth: This is not possible. In order for pregnancy to happen, sperm has to get inside the vagina. From there, the sperm that are in the semen swim up through the cervix and uterus into the fallopian tubes. If someone swallows semen, the semen goes through a totally different body system. However, it is possible to get sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by giving or receiving oral sex (regardless of a person’s sex), including herpes. If you and your partner plan to have oral sex, the safest way is to use latex barriers, which even come in flavored varieties. It’s also a really good idea for you and your partner to get tested for STDs before having oral, anal or vaginal sex.

Myth: You can get pregnant if there is semen on a hand and it touches the vaginal opening or is inserted into it.

Truth: If someone has semen on a hand and then touches the vaginal opening, it is possible for a girl to get pregnant, though not very likely. The risk is very low. To potentially cause a pregnancy, the semen would still need to be wet on the hand because that is the only way sperm stay alive. Sperm cannot live long outside of the body. The best way to prevent pregnancy is to wash your hands or even wipe them off so that your hands are dry. This way, pregnancy isn’t possible.

Myth: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex in certain positions.

Truth: This is a myth! It doesn’t matter what position you’re in. Any time you have penile-vaginal sex, a pregnancy is possible. To prevent pregnancy, you must use a reliable method of birth control every time you have sex. Keep in mind that pregnancy isn’t the only thing you have to be concerned about. The methods that work best to prevent pregnancy—other than condoms—don’t do anything to prevent STDs. So it’s best to use condoms and, for really good protection, another method like the Pill or Shot.

Myth: You can prevent pregnancy by douching after sex.

Truth: Douching can’t prevent pregnancy. In fact, it may actually increase the chances of pregnancy. Douching is when a solution of water and some mild cleanser is used to wash out the inside of the vagina. The fluid is usually in a squeezable bottle with a long neck that can be inserted into the vagina and then the fluid is pushed up inside. If someone douches right after sex, the force of the douche liquid can push the semen further into the body, increasing the chance of pregnancy. Also, douching can cause infections and isn’t good for vaginal health. The vagina cleans itself and soaps or cleansers can irritate the vagina.

Myth: If you pee after sex, you can’t get pregnant.

Truth: You can still get pregnant if you urinate (pee) after sex. Urinating after intercourse will not prevent pregnancy. Urine comes out of the urethra, which is a separate opening from the vagina. The urethra and the vagina are not connected. Since penile-vaginal intercourse happens when a penis is inserted into the vagina, urinating after sex doesn’t prevent pregnancy. Urinating after sex, however, does help to prevent infections such as urinary tract infections (UTI).

Myth: You can get pregnant if a guy cums in a pool or Jacuzzi while you’re in it.

Truth: No. If semen is ejaculated into a pool, hot tub, Jacuzzi or bathtub, the sperm will be diluted in the water or killed by the heat, soap or chemicals. There is no chance of pregnancy. But, if you have vaginal intercourse in a Jacuzzi, pool, hot tub or bathtub—where the penis is in the vagina—pregnancy is definitely possible. Sperm swim quickly up the vagina and the water can’t get inside and wash it away.

Myth: You can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex.

Truth: This is completely false. It’s possible to get pregnant anytime you have penile-vaginal sex, whether it’s the first or the 100th time. Even if the partner with a uterus hasn’t ever had a period yet, it’s possible that the menstrual cycle may soon start, and if this is the case, ovulation may occur. When an egg and sperm are present, pregnancy is possible. It’s important to remember that pregnancy isn’t the only thing a couple has to be concerned about. If they do not use condoms, there is a risk for STDs.

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