3 Birth Control Myths Busted

From high-tech condoms to increasingly refined hormone-based contraceptives, there are myriad ways to safely and effectively prevent an unwanted pregnancy. If you're sexually active but not ready to start a family, there's absolutely no reason for you or your partner to find yourselves facing a plus sign on a home pregnancy test.

Even with the wealth of options that are easily available to nearly anyone in any age or stage of life, certain myths about ways to counter conception still exist. Here are three old wives' tales that seem to still have some life in them and explanations for why they're bogus that hopefully will help put them to rest.

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Aspirin Alone Is an Effective Birth Control Pill

There's absolutely no medical evidence that taking large doses of aspirin can prevent pregnancy. It's not even clear where this idea came from. One source may be that taking regular doses of aspirin is associated with a lower sperm count in some men. Even if this is true, a small decrease in the number of sperm a man produces is a far cry from making conception impossible, or even improbable. It takes just one sperm to fertilize an egg. Another theory about how the aspirin-as-birth-control idea evolved may have come from the idea that high doses of aspirin may cause uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage if conception occurs. The odds of this happening even by accident are very, very low.

Aspirin Plus Soda Can Prevent Pregnancy

Again, aspirin, even taken in large doses after having sex, will not stop conception from taking place. This medication simply does not have any effect on sperm mobility. Nor can it affect implantation (the process by which a fertilized egg becomes embedded in the lining of the uterus). So it stands to reason that an interesting embellishment on this myth, that taking three aspirin while drinking cola before having sex will prevent pregnancy, is just as unfounded.

Heat Is a Contraceptive

Neither soaking in a hot bath nor applying a heating pad to your belly after sex are viable approaches to birth control. No doubt this idea was cooked up based on the fact that sperm has been found to die when exposed to high temperatures. This is why the male partner of couples who are having trouble getting pregnant may be advised to steer clear of hot tubs and saunas. But that's just a precaution offered up when people struggling with infertility are pulling out all the stops to have a child. Besides, it takes much more heat to destroy a small amount of sperm than either a soak in the tub or a heating pad gives off.

Why Birth Control Myths Are Born

These old wives' tales may persist because many people long for a magical solution to preventing pregnancy. But when it comes to getting pregnant, there's really no magic to counter: if a sperm joins an egg, conception will occur. When evaluating some of these myths, note that the average male ejaculate contains 300 to 500 million sperm, the fastest of which can get to an available egg in just 20 minutes. What's more, sperm can live inside a woman's body for up to five days. These are the factors you're up against if you truly don't want to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. And the only way to guarantee you'll be safe from that is to not have sex or, if you've had the children you want or are absolutely certain you don't want a family at all, to have a surgical procedure (tubal ligation or vasectomy). The next best solution: See your doctor to discuss the best birth control options for you and your lifestyle, and then follow the instructions for using it to a T. 

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  1. Martini AC, Molina RI, Tissera AD, Ruiz RD, Cuneo MFD. Analysis of semen from patients chronically treated with low or moderate doses of aspirin-like drugsFertility and Sterility. 2003;80(1):221-222. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(03)00550-8.