When you choose a family planning method, you need to know the facts. You can’t make your choices based on myths you’ve heard. Get the facts from your Obstetrics and Gynecology or any other qualified health practitioner.

Contraception is a relatively shrouded concept — one that people don’t talk about often enough. This can create an aura of mystery and misinformation about it, so there are plenty of myths floating around concerning contraception.

We’re going to tackle some of the most prevalent myths relating to birth control in general, so you can get the facts you need to know.

Myth #1: Girl talk is the best route to a properly informed decision

Reality: It’s the worst possible way to decide – but common, say experts. “Women say: ‘My friend uses the Pill and her skin looks great so can I have the same brand?’ or ‘I’d never have an IUD because I know someone who had terrible periods.” It leads women to make bad choices.

Do your own research.

Myth #2: The ring often falls out when you take out a tampon or go to the bathroom

Fact: If the ring is in the right place, it should not fall out. If it ever does fall out, don’t worry. Just wash the ring off with cool water and put it right back in.

Myth #3: The implant will move around in my arm or might break

Fact: The implant almost never breaks or moves around after it is put in. You should be able to feel the rod under your skin. If you can’t feel it, tell your provider.

The new female condoms will give women more control over their own bodies as they will be the ones wearing them. Photo: Anka Grzywacz/Wikimedia Commons

Myth #5: Newer forms of birth control aren’t as safe as the older brands. 
Reality: You may have heard that newer forms of birth control—like Yasmin, Yaz, or NuvaRing—come with more hormones and more health risks than the old standbys. The truth is, the newer the birth control, the fewer hormones it contains. And while some studies have shown a slightly higher risk of blood clots in women taking newer forms of birth control, the increase is extremely low and still much lower than your risk of developing a clot while pregnant.

Read: The Pill is your friend: 10 debunked myths about oral contraceptives

Myth #6: You shouldn’t get an IUD unless you’ve already had children

Reality: Anyone looking for super-effective pregnancy prevention should talk to their gynecologist about the intrauterine device (IUD) —even if they haven’t had a child yet. The reason for this misconception is that some forms of the IUD are generally recommended for women with children, since your cervix and uterus are slightly larger after giving birth, which should make implantation and use more comfortable. However, there is a newer IUD which is slightly smaller and delivers a lower dose of hormones, making it perfect for non-moms, too. Plus, the IUD is 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy so don’t knock it just because you’re childless.

Myth #7: I won’t get pregnant if my partner pulls out before he ejaculates

This one is one of the most common misconceptions. Pulling out before the man ejaculates, known as the withdrawal method, is not a foolproof method for contraception. Some ejaculate (fluid that contains sperm) may be released before the man actually begins to climax. In addition, some men may not have the willpower or be able to withdraw in time.

Oral contraceptive pill. Photo: Wiki commons

Myth #8- Birth control = all of the hormones

Well, not necessarily. The type and amount of hormones in each method varies, so the one you choose should be a very individual decision. And if you want or need to go hormone-free, there are options. You can try the copper IUD, a barrier method (like condoms or diaphragms) or fertility awareness–based methods, which involve carefully tracking your cycles and your body’s patterns to avoid unprotected sex when you’re ovulating.

Myth #9: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex during your period.

Not true: Your body can release an egg at any time during your cycle. “While during your period is the most unlikely time for ovulation, women can get pregnant after having sex during their period. Remember that sperm can live in the vagina or uterus for up to six days under the right circumstances.”

Myth #10: Douching after intercourse prevents pregnancy

Douching is the process of washing out your vagina. Women mistakenly believe that this can flush out sperm and even sexually transmitted diseases, but experts advise against douching in general and specifically note that douching does not prevent pregnancy or infection. Instead, you may just be making yourself uncomfortable. “Douching can irritate the vaginal walls, removing both the good and bad bacteria within the vagina.”

Read: Male Pill: Is it time for guys to take on the burden of birth control?

Bonus Debunked Myths

Is it true that a vasectomy will lower my Libido?

Many men (and women) have the fear that undergoing a vasectomy will actually ruin their sex lives. Luckily though, this is just a common misconception, and there is no truth behind it. A vasectomy is actually a very safe (and quick) permanent birth control procedure. Research shows that having a vasectomy does not lower your sex drive or affects erections or orgasms. Many couples even report greater sexual satisfaction after a vasectomy because there is no longer any threat of an unplanned pregnancy.

The Emergency Contraception (EC) pill is the same thing as an abortion pill

Fact: EC is NOT an abortion pill. The purpose of EC is to stop a pregnancy before it starts. It can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. If a woman is already pregnant when she takes EC, her pregnancy will not end.

An abortion pill however can help terminate an existing pregnancy, whereas the morning-after pill helps prevent a pregnancy from occurring. If you are already pregnant and take the morning-after pill, nothing will happen to the fetus.

The male pill would prevent men from impregnating women by weakening the sperm. Photo: Shutterstock

Doesn’t having your tubes tied require surgery?

The answer to this question is yes and no. Technically, having your tubes tied requires the closing off of your fallopian tubes. How you accomplish this, however, may not require the need for incisions. Traditional tubal ligation procedures do require surgery, where your tubes are clipped, cut and/or cauterized (sealed shut). These procedures typically take place in a hospital or outpatient clinic.

Now, you also have the option of hysteroscopic sterilization. These are non-surgical procedures that “plug up” the fallopian tubes rather than clipping or sealing them. The Essure Procedure consists of the insertion of two small metal springs into the fallopian tubes. Adiana, FDA-approved in 2009, works in a similar way — soft, rice-sized inserts are placed in the fallopian tubes after a low level of radiofrequency energy is applied. In both of these options, scar tissue begins to grow around the springs/inserts, thus closing off the fallopian tube. Many women appreciate this less intrusive approach to permanent sterilization.

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) is difficult to remove and can cause infertility

Reality: Only 8 per cent of women use long-acting contraceptives, including implants, injections, the copper coil (IUD) and hormonal coil (IUS) because of this misconception. LARCs are suitable for women of all ages; they are very effective, easy to remove and do not affect fertility – apart from the injection, which delays conception by a few months.

Mandatory sex education and contraceptives will destroy the family, compromise morality, increase promiscuity and promote HIV infections

World Health Organization: Over 1,000 reports on sex education programs worldwide show that sex education courses and contraceptive provision did not lead to earlier sexual intercourse, and in some cases they delayed it, reduced the number of sexual partners, or reduced unplanned pregnancy and STD rates.