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Myths and facts about sex at a glance:
- There are a whole lot of myths out there about sex — so don't trust everything you hear.
- Women can get pregnant anytime semen gets inside the vagina or on the vulva.
- The best way to prevent STDs is to not have sex. If you do have sex, always use a condom or Sheer Glyde dam and get tested for STDs regularly.
Myth #1: Everyone at my school is having sex.
FALSE. The average age when people start having sex is 17. And even once people start having sex, most teens don't have sex very often. In fact, 30 percent of people haven't had sex by the time they turn 20. So it's normal to wait until you're older to have sex.
Myth #2: You can't get pregnant the first time you have sex.
FALSE. You can get pregnant anytime you have vaginal (penis-in-vagina) sex. If you're having sex without birth control, you can get pregnant — whether it's the first time or the 100th time. It's even possible for to get pregnant before you have your first period. Bottom line: if you're going to have vaginal sex, use birth control to prevent pregnancy.
Myth #3: You can't get pregnant during your period.
FALSE. It's not super common, but it's possible to get pregnant from sex you had during your period. This is because sperm can hang out in your reproductive organs for SIX whole days, waiting for one of your eggs to come out.
Myth #4: You can't get pregnant if you have sex in the water.
FALSE. Lots of babies have been made in pools and hot tubs. You get zero protection from pregnancy by having sex in a pool, bath, or shower. That's because the sperm are still getting in the vagina during vaginal (penis-in-vagina) sex.
HOWEVER, sometimes people are scared of getting pregnant from swimming in a pool that a guy has ejaculated in. That's not going to happen. Sperm can't do the backstroke through the pool water, into a vagina, and cause a pregnancy. So if a guy cums/ejaculates near but not on or in a girl in water, she won't get pregnant.
Myth #5: Douching after sex prevents pregnancy.
FALSE. Squirting water, soda, vinegar or anything else up your vagina after sex won't prevent pregnancy ... but it could give you an infection. The only thing that will prevent pregnancy is using birth control every time you have vaginal (penis-in-vagina) sex.
Myth #6: Birth control doesn't really work.
FALSE. When used correctly, lots of birth control methods are super effective — like, more than 99 percent effective — at preventing pregnancy. But if you don't use birth control correctly, it doesn't work as well.
Some methods, like the IUD and implant] are easy to use correctly — they're placed in your body and do their thing without the chance that you could mess it up. Other methods, like the pill, are a little harder because you have to remember to take it every day, try not to miss any pills, and keep getting your new packs on time. If you miss pills, you're at risk for pregnancy.
Condoms are 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. And condoms are also the best way to avoid STDs. But you have to put the condom on before you start having sex, and keep it on the entire time you're having sex. While condoms can break, this usually happens because they're used wrong. Using extra lubricant with a condom helps keep it from breaking.
The best thing to do is to use both a condom and another birth control method.
Myth #7: You can't get STDs from oral sex.
FALSE. While most STDs are spread through vaginal (penis-in-vagina) and anal (penis-in-anus) sex, unprotected oral sex can also put you at risk for STDs. Things like HPV, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and hepatitis B can all be spread through oral sex. HIV is less likely to be transmitted through oral sex.
To protect each other from STDs, it's a good idea to use condoms for oral sex on a penis (that's what flavored condoms are made for!). And you can use Sheer Glyde dams, cut-open condoms, or plastic wrap for oral sex on a vulva.
Myth #8: You'd know if you (or your partner) had an STD.
FALSE. Most people who have an STD never have symptoms. So just because you and your partner don't have symptoms doesn't mean you shouldn't worry about STDs. People with STDs can pass them to others, even if they feel fine. And if left untreated, some STDs can turn into really dangerous infections and even lead to permanent damage (like infertility).
The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested — don't wait until something seems off. Getting tested for STDs is quick and easy.
Myth #9: Getting an STD is the end of the world.
FALSE. A lot of STDs (like gonorrhea and chlamydia) can be cured with simple antibiotics you get from the doctor. These curable, bacterial STDs work just like strep throat — easily fixed in a week or so with medicine.
STDs that are caused by viruses — like HIV, HPV, herpes, and hepatitis — can't be cured. These viral STDs work more like the flu or mono — there's no cure, but there is treatment to help with symptoms. People with viral STDs can live long, healthy lives with the help of their doctor.
Myth #10: If you get an STD once, you can never get it again.
FALSE. A lot of STDs can be cured with antibiotics. But once they're cured, you can get them again. So if you get treated for an STD, your partner(s) should be treated also — otherwise they could give the infection right back to you if you have sex again. And you should keep getting tested whenever you have unprotected sex or start having sex with someone new.