Can a woman or girl prevent pregnancy by jumping up and down after sex? You’d be surprised at what some people think!
Yesterday I was interviewed for an upcoming feature of our work, and I was asked what kinds of questions our teachers and nurses get asked when they’re teaching about reproductive health. I started highlighting some of the more common myths we are asked about. Because there are many misconceptions, we have incorporated several of these myths into a game we play with our students and clients called “Chismis or Check?” It is essentially a true or false game to correct some of the false beliefs our clients hold.
It is important for us to provide scientific information about sex and sexuality because we want to fight the epidemic of teenage pregnancy and more generally, unplanned pregnancy. Research shows that when young people are educated about their bodies and their health, they are more likely to delay sexual activity until they are older, and are less likely to become pregnant. We strive to ensure that women and girls have access to the knowledge and services they need to control their bodies and decide whether or when to have a baby.
For the benefit of Palawan News readers, here are the highlights of the information we cover:
Myth or Fact?
Myth: When a woman jumps up and down after sexual intercourse, the man’s sperm will be expelled from her body. The woman, thus, will NOT get pregnant.
Fact: There are millions of sperm released during intercourse, and only one is needed to fertilize an egg. Also, sperm swim only in one direction – forward, and have a lifespan of up to five days. Thus, once sperm is inside a woman’s body, no amount of jumping up and down will prevent sperm from swimming in search of an egg.
Myth: Menstruation is a way for a woman’s body to get rid of dirty blood.
Fact: Menstrual blood is the uterine lining that the body has prepared in anticipation of a pregnancy. When a pregnancy does not occur, the lining is not needed, so it is shed and a woman has a period. There is nothing dirty about the blood, and if someone does not have regular periods there is also no harm in not having a period. A lack of a period for someone not pregnant just means that the uterine lining has not been prepared for a possible pregnancy.
Myth: It is NOT possible for a girl who has reached puberty to get pregnant if she is having sex but has not had her first period.
Fact: Anytime an adolescent or woman has unprotected sex, she can get pregnant. Every month ovaries release an egg that travels from the ovaries, down the fallopian tubes, and into the uterus. If the egg meets a sperm cell, it will be fertilized and a pregnancy will occur. If it does not meet a sperm cell, the egg will die and the uterine lining that the body prepared for a pregnancy will be shed as a period. Thus, if a girl has not yet had a period but her ovaries have released an egg, she could become pregnant.
Myth: A woman cannot get pregnant if she has sex during her period.
Fact: It is not very common, but some women do get pregnant even if they had sex while on their period. Some women have irregular menstrual cycles. For example, instead of the “regular” 28 day cycle that many women have, someone could have a menstrual cycle that is 24 days long, with a menstrual period lasting 7 days. If she has intercourse on the last day of the menstrual period, sperm might survive long enough to reach the point of ovulation, when the ovaries will release an egg. In this case, the sperm might be able to fertilize an egg cell.
Myth: Withdrawal is an effective way to prevent pregnancy.
Fact: Withdrawal, or removing the penis from a woman’s vagina and ejaculating outside her body, is not effective. Firstly, if the person using withdrawal is inexperienced at having sex, there is a very high possibility that he will ejaculate before he can remove his penis from the woman’s body. Secondly, a high percentage of men and boys have something called pre-seminal fluid or “precum” which is semen (with sperm) that is released from the man’s body without him feeling it at all. So there is no way for a man to know if he has precum or not. And if he does, even if he ejaculates outside the woman’s body, he will have released semen already, so there is a chance of a pregnancy occuring.
Myth: A woman cannot get pregnant the first time she has intercourse.
Fact: Any time that a woman has unprotected sex, she has a chance of getting pregnant. Whether it is a woman’s first time or hundredth time to have sex, if she is ovulating during the time of intercourse, meaning an egg has been released, there is a chance that a sperm cell can fertilize it, that the fertilized egg will implant in the woman’s uterine wall, and that a pregnancy will occur.
Myth: Contraception is the same thing as abortion.
Fact: Contraception is NOT the same thing as abortion. Contraception prevents a pregnancy from happening. When there is no pregnancy, there is no need for abortion. If a woman is already pregnant and uses contraceptives, the contraceptives will not prevent her pregnancy, and will have no negative effects on the fetus. Contraception can only prevent a pregnancy before it happens, while abortion is the termination of a pregnancy.
I hope this helps! Feel free to message me if you have heard any other myths regarding reproductive health or would like more information on a particular topic. I’d also like to recommend that you direct your questions to the Roots of Health Clinic Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/UNKClinic/.