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Myths & Facts About Getting Pregnant

Myths & Facts About Getting Pregnant

We got so many questions about pregnancy scares in the comments of the original “Um, can I get pregnant if…?” that we decided it was time for part two. Last time we talked about specific sex acts that could lead to pregnancy—this time we’re talking the chance of pregnancy in various circumstances. (SPOILER ALERT: If you’re not using birth control, you can.)

Can I get pregnant if I was drunk or high when we had sex?

Yes! Being drunk or high when you have sex has nothing to do with the biological chances of getting pregnant. Since being drunk or high probably makes you or your partner less likely to remember to use that condom or take that birth control pill, it may actually increase the chance of a pregnancy. If being drunk or high is part of your regular scene, consider doubling up to be super-safe with condoms and a party-ready birth control method like the implant, the IUD, or the shot.

Can I get pregnant if we’ve been having sex without birth control and haven’t gotten pregnant yet? Maybe I’m infertile.

Up to 1 in 6 young people believe that they may never be able to get pregnant or get a partner pregnant. In reality, less than 1 in 100 young and healthy people are truly infertile. Having sex without birth control and not getting pregnant means you got lucky. You may get lucky multiple times, but this does not mean you are infertile. It means you are pushing your luck: 95% of young couples who have sex once a week are pregnant within a year. Most of us have heard that “it only takes one time.” While that’s true, there are a lot of factors involved, and most couples who are actively trying to get pregnant get there within 6 months.

Can I get pregnant if I had an STI when we had sex?

Having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis does not change the chances of pregnancy. A guy’s sperm still swim just fine, and a woman’s egg will be healthy, despite the infection.

Now, having repeated and untreated infections over time can increase a woman’s chance of infertility, which is why your health care provider recommends that all sexually active women under age 26 get tested for Chlamydia and gonorrhea once a year.

Can I get pregnant if I’ve been raped?

There have been some bizarre statements to the contrary, but let me assure you that there is no mechanism in a woman’s body to prevent a pregnancy resulting from rape. In fact, this myth is so inaccurate and dangerous that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists made a public statement condemning the whole thing. Women can’t control the release of an egg, whether that egg is fertilized, or whether it goes on to become a pregnancy—and it makes zero difference if it was rape or consensual sex.

Can I get pregnant if my guy masturbated before we had sex?

Wishful thinking. This myth is rooted in the fact it takes time for a man’s testes to make new sperm. But studies have shown that the number of sperm in ejaculate doesn’t change much, even after masturbating multiple times each day for a week. The number of sperm stayed within the normal range—certainly enough to cause a pregnancy—for the whole week. The average man makes insane amounts of sperm in a day (45-200 million), so this tactic just can’t beat biology.

Can I get pregnant if I just stopped using the pill (or patch, or ring, or IUD, or implant…)? Doesn’t my body need to readjust first?

When you stop using most hormonal methods of birth control, you can get pregnant right away. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been using the method. For women who stopped using one of these methods, most are pregnant within 6 months. And that’s exactly the same for women who stopped using condoms, fertility awareness, or any other non-hormonal method.

There is one exception. Women using the shot, which is designed to last for three months, may take 10 months to get pregnant after the last shot (7 months after the shot is designed to wear off). Remember that these are generalizations about “most women”—some women get pregnant the month they stop using birth control. It’s best to think of it this way: once you’re off your birth control, it’s open season to get pregnant.

Keep the questions coming…. We’ll try to keep up!


Forget to Take a Pill? Get a Reminder Text
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Getting Pregnant (Or Avoiding It)
When Are Women Most Likely to Get Pregnant?


Grace Shih, MD, MAS, is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She has a family medicine practice at the San Francisco General Hospital’s Family Health Center. When she’s not seeing patients, you can find her cooking, hiking, or salsa dancing.

Read more: Health, Pregnancy, Sex, Sexual Health, Women's Health, , , , , , ,

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Everyone should have the life they want, when they want it. And until someone is ready to have a baby, we believe they should have access to birth control. That’s where we come in. Bedsider makes birth control easier. How? By giving you everything you need to find it, get it, and use it well.


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7:13PM PST on Jan 31, 2014

My name is RODA, I am from UK I want to share my experience on how I got my baby, despite the doctor said I couldn't have any, because of my health, I was Barry since the year 2008 I could not give birth to babies, until one of my family friend introduce a GREAT SPELL CASTER to me called DR LAWCY, I never knew DR LAWCY could even solve my problems, when I contacted him despite the situation on ground he told me that he is going to help me, and he gave to me some herbs to take and casted some spell on me, all thanks to GOD that sent DR LAWCY to me, just after three months I became pregnant for me husband, now I am a mother of three children, I want to thank DR LAWCY for his good work, if you are out there passing through this same problem, you can also contact him on his email on and I pray to GOD that same way he helped me, he shall help you also, thanks for part of my testimony..

9:51AM PDT on Jun 17, 2013

thanks for debunking myths with factual information

10:13AM PDT on Jun 12, 2013

GREAT info thanks so much

11:31PM PDT on Apr 28, 2013

Chance would be a fine thing

1:47AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

I am really surprised when I hear any of these myths. We need more sex education.

11:01AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

i have 3 kids,, got pregnant quick

3:46AM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

I knew almost all of these, and can't believe that others don't! Where is the education?

4:50AM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

The fact that these myths abound are proof of the need for factual sex education for everyone. Most of the answers to these myths is just simple biology.

6:13PM PDT on Apr 15, 2013

It's unfortunate that so many people don't know much about the subject matter of sex and pregnancy, but when you have religion and politics controlling the system, there is little education in the home or schools, because to talk about sex is considered taboo.
I really like what Amber B said in her comment. Knowing yourself is the key to prevention. For the past 4 years, me and my partner have used a combination of what she refers to as the "Fertility Awareness Method" or rhythm method, if you will, combined with coitus interruptus. I know my cycle and it is a highly effective, natural, free and safe method of birth control. Of course, it takes a really good man to make it work...thankfully, I have one of those.

5:09AM PDT on Apr 14, 2013

Thank you for the article..

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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