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Busting the myths on pregnancy

Hester Phillips

15 June 2022

There are many myths about how people do and don’t get pregnant. It can be hard to know what to believe.

Some myths sound more made up than others and it’s easy to get confused between facts and fiction.

Woman looking at pregnancy test
Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour. Credit: iStock/PeopleImages

But don’t fret – we are here to bring you the facts on how you get pregnant and how you can avoid it.

Read on for answers to your most pressing questions on pregnancy.

Can I get pregnant the first time I have sex?


It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or your fiftieth!

If you don’t want to get pregnant you need to use some sort of contraception (birth control). And remember – only condoms protect against pregnancy AND sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, so they are a good option.

Can I get pregnant when I’m on my period?


If you don’t use contraception you can get pregnant at any time during your menstrual cycle, including during your period.

You have the highest chance of getting pregnant on the day your ovary releases an egg (called ovulation) and the days around it. Some people have very regular cycles, but others don’t. This can make it hard to predict when you are most likely to get pregnant. The only way to be sure you are not going to get pregnant is to use birth control.

Can pulling out prevent pregnancy?

Not reliably!

Pulling out (also known as the withdrawal method) is when the man pulls his penis out of the vagina before he ejaculates (cums). This sounds like it might work, but it’s not something you can rely on. Even if the man pulls out before he fully ejaculates, sperm might still get into the vagina through pre-cum fluid.

Can I get pregnant from kissing?


Pregnancy can’t happen by exchanging saliva. It only happens when sperm from a man's penis enters a woman's body through her vagina and meets an egg.

Does washing your vagina after sex stop pregnancy?


If you have sex and sperm gets into the vagina pregnancy can happen. It's that simple. Washing your vagina won’t make any difference.

Can I get pregnant if I swallow semen (cum)?

Sperm cannot live in your digestive tract so you cannot get pregnant by giving a man oral sex (often called a blow job).

Can I get pregnant through anal sex?

If you have anal sex, even if the man ejaculates (cums) it won't cause pregnancy. But anal sex can lead to HIV or other sexually transmitted infections being passed on. That's why you should always use a condom (internal or external) when you have anal sex.

Does having sex standing up stop pregnancy?

No. Whatever position you have sex in you can get pregnant.

Can I get pregnant if I’m breastfeeding?


You can get pregnant as little as three weeks after giving birth, even if you're breastfeeding and your periods haven't started again.

There are lots of types of contraception that are safe to use when breastfeeding. These are the implant, the injection, some types of pill (the progestogen-only pill) and condoms.

Does vinegar prevent pregnancy? What about drinking coke or water?

No. Nothing you drink or eat can prevent pregnancy. Only birth control can do this.

If you’re having sex and you don’t want to get pregnant it is time to work out what type of contraception to use.

One of the best options are condoms as these not only prevent pregnancy but will also protect you and your partner from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This means you can both relax and enjoy sex without worrying about pregnancy or ill health.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

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