Period Sex, Ampicillin and Two Other Birth Control Myths To Avoid
May 24, 2021
Birth control myths are unproven ideas you will encounter when you are trying to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Many claims circulate about how to prevent pregnancy effectively, so in this post, let’s look at four common examples you might believe and consider how true they are.
For as long as we can remember, men and women have sought methods to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
This could be for several reasons, and sometimes the fear of carrying a pregnancy to term when you do not wish to can result in desperate measures.
It’s certainly been the case for several years before modern birth control methods that women would try anything in the hope that it could work.
People would use herbs (mainly), some concoctions or even suggest sexual positions which they thought to prevent pregnancy.
The results vary: failure of the method or even serious illness and death could result when things go wrong.
And these days, even with the available modern birth control methods, some women or couples still embark on seeking measures they hope will prevent unplanned pregnancy.
First, let us consider using ‘period sex’ as birth control.
Are you a person who’s thinking of period sex to avoid getting pregnant?
Well, you should know that period sex as a birth control method is unreliable and just because it worked for a friend or your boyfriend says so – DOES NOT MEAN it will work for you!
Period sex is what we call having sex during the days of your menstrual period or bleeding days in your cycle.
Many people believe that it is NOT possible to get pregnant at the same time as your period.
This stems from the idea that you can’t ovulate (produce an egg) at the same time you have a period.
So if you can’t have an egg during your period, how can you get pregnant right?
While this statement is essentially true, it can be affected by OTHER Factors like the length of your own cycle and sperm survival.
Let’s look at the cycle, but before that, what do we know about sperm survival in the woman?
Sperm Survival After Sex
After sexual intercourse, sperm in the woman’s reproductive tract – vagina and the womb can survive for a period of time.
We mostly think this ranges from 3-7 days. Still, on average, you can expect that if you have unprotected sexual intercourse, your partner’s sperm remains alive (viable) inside your body for about 5 days.
How long sperm survives will therefore have an impact on your chance of pregnancy that depends on your egg production (which happens at the phase of your menstrual cycle known as ovulation).
What Happens During Your Menstrual Cycle?
We usually define the menstrual cycle as the time from one period or ‘days of bleeding’ to the next.
For women, the average length of a cycle ranges from 25 – 35 days, with most of us averaging about 28 days cycle length.
Here is what happens during your cycle:
So that’s the average timing and events’ schedule for most women’s menstrual cycles.
How do you get pregnant from period sex?
But here’s where it becomes complicated:
Most of the time, if you have sex during your periods, pregnancy is unlikely, but it IS possible. This little chance is why the method is UNRELIABLE.
So when someone tells you that you can avoid pregnancy by having sex during your period – before you go ahead, remember your cycle and how you cannot predict ovulation so it’s a big risk.
A reminder, too, that period sex does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections, so please use a condom. Doing so not only reduces your risk of unplanned pregnancy but infections, too.
This is a popular birth control myth.
The way it goes is that taking some doses of the antibiotic, Ampicillin, can prevent you from falling pregnant after unprotected sex.
While this sounds like an attractive solution, it is absolutely ineffective for that purpose.
Penicillin, discovered in 1928, is a well-known antibiotic responsible for saving countless lives.
Ampicillin is an antibiotic that belongs to the same class as Penicillin, which we use for treating ear, throat or chest infections and more.
Simply put, it has no role in preventing an unwanted pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse.
Another birth control myth to unpack centres around the timing of your emergency contraceptive (or morning-after pill).
Of course, the term ‘morning after pill’ is a misnomer; because you can certainly take the pill during the afternoon and at night.
But the term became popular soon after the pill was developed.
It was marketed as the solution for activities during the night before the ‘morning after’ – following a night of unplanned or unexpected sexual intercourse – hence ‘morning after.
But enough about the name! The job of this pill is to prevent pregnancy from happening after an episode of unprotected sexual intercourse.
This happens primarily by delaying ovulation. In addition, there is a window period to use the emergency pills when they are most effective.
This is usually 72 hours (3 days) for Levonorgestrel (LNG) containing pills.
Levonorgestrel is a synthetic progesterone, similar to the hormone produced in our bodies.
Examples are Postinor, Plan B, I-pill, Take Action, Postinir 2, Levonelle and so on.
For one of the other types of emergency contraceptive pill – Ulipristal Acetate – the window for taking it safely is 120 hours (5 days).
So, contrary to the belief that you can take the emergency pill anytime you like, the recommendation instead is:
Reasons the Emergency Pill May Not Work
As we have expressed already – ovulation is rather unpredictable despite our best tools to detect it. What we can do at best is estimate when we ovulate.
Since this can be different from one month to another, even in women with regular cycles, you should take the morning-after pill as soon as possible following sex.
When you do take the pill, remember that one of the reasons it may not work is if you have already ovulated – a factor no one can time with 100% accuracy.
In addition, if you take it outside the window period (3 days for LNG; 5 days for Ulipristal), it’s much less likely to work.
However, some of the Levonorgestrel pills may also work to a limited degree in other ways:
Since these two minor methods do not rely on ovulation, some suggest this means you can use the pill after ovulation, but please note these effects are less reliable.
**** How are Sex and Depression Linked? ***
The emergency birth control pill is not designed or recommended for regular use.
Even though the pill is not known to cause any significant degree of harm, it can make the menstrual cycle irregular after you use it too frequently.
Thus, if you are having frequent sexual intercourse, you should choose a regular contraceptive method.
Options include a daily pill, weekly patch or vaginal ring, depot injection, an implant placed under the skin or the coil device placed in the womb.
Some women use the morning-after pill and think that this protects them from pregnancy if they have more unprotected sex in the days following. This is incorrect.
You will remember that after intercourse, sperm can live in the womb for 5 days. Having sex again the day after having the pill introduces more sperm with the ability to live another 5 days.
Thus the morning-after pill has limits to which it can provide protection – this is usually for the sexual encounter you had before taking the pill, not for repeat episodes.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare.
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