There’s a web of confusion about female reproductive health. Many online sources are riddled with errors and baseless information. In the Philippines, majority of Filipinos still believe in myths that have no scientific and accurate sources. According to Roots of Health, the RH Law continues to face opposition even after its passage into law, while the government is stalling by banning the hormonal contraceptive implant, Implanon, from government hospitals and public health centers. And because conservatives still see sex education as taboo, there is a dire lack of proper education. Long-held ridiculous beliefs continue to spread by word of mouth.
1. Myth: Contraceptives are abortifacients, and the RH Law promotes abortion.
Fact: “Contraceptives—such as pills, condoms, and intrauterine devices—prevent pregnancy,” explained Dr. Marnie Zamora-Castro, Obstetrician-Gynecologist. “They work before pregnancy begins and do not cause abortion. Pregnancy begins when the fertilized egg implants in the lining of a woman’s uterus. Contraceptives work by inhibiting ovulation, fertilization, or implantation, and will not work if a woman is already pregnant. They do not disrupt an existing pregnancy.”
2. Myth: Contraceptives are cancerous and hazardous to a woman’s health.
Fact: Contraceptives are not cancerous. According WebMD, doctors at the Cancer Research Epidemiology Unit in Oxford University found that oral contraceptive pills (OCP) actually cut women’s risk of ovarian cancer—29% decrease for each five-year interval of oral contraceptive use. The longer a woman uses the pill, the lower her risk of ovarian cancer.
3. Myth: Reproductive health issues are only for women.
Fact: “This isn’t just a woman’s issue, as it has been historically framed; this is an issue that affects people of all genders,” social issue journalist S.E. Smith wrote in Bustle. Men are equality affected by reproductive health issues such as conception, infertility, family planning, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). They need to share the responsibility with their partners.
4. Myth: The RH Law will hand out condoms to school kids.
Fact: “The RH Law requires parental consent for children under 18 to get contraceptives, so no condoms will be handed out to school kids,” said Ami Swanepoel, reproductive health activist and founder of Roots of Health.
5. Myth: The RH Law promotes sexual promiscuity.
Fact: “A lot of people insist that learning about sex will promote sexual promiscuity, but many studies from the west show that children who had comprehensive sex ed are more likely to delay sex than their peers who had none,” said Swanepoel. Sexual promiscuity is part of the false propaganda spread against the RH Law. The RH Bill, which was passed into law in 2015, simply sought to provide pro-bono reproductive health services for indigent women and maximum health insurance benefits for life-threatening reproductive health conditions.
6. Myth: You can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex or while on your period.
Fact: “It may seem like the odds are in your favor, but there’s no reason to risk it,” according to ABC News’ Health section. As long as your are fertile and ovulating, you are just as likely to get pregnant the first time you have sex as any other time you do the deed. Sperm can live inside you for up to five days. You could have sex towards the end of your menstrual bleeding and then actually conceive 4-5 days later if you ovulate early. The probabilities of getting pregnant while on your period are low, but it is still possible.
7. Myth: Birth control pills will make you fat.
Fact: No clinical trial or comprehensive study has been able to prove a correlation between oral contraceptives and weight gain. “Birth control affects women in different ways,” added Swanepoel. “Different types of pills have different hormone concentration levels, so if a woman isn’t happy with her type of pill, she should ask her doctor about trying other types with different dosages.”
8. Myth: You will not get pregnant if you exercise, jump up and down, or douche your vaginal area after the act.
Fact: Sperm moves quickly. Even if you run a marathon after sex, it will not make the sperm fall out of your vagina and keep you from getting pregnant.
9. Myth: Pulling out is an effective birth control method when done properly.
Fact: Coitus interruptus or pulling out is defined as “sexual intercourse that is deliberately interrupted by withdrawal of the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation.” [source: About.com Health] Even when done with perfect timing, it has a higher failure rate compared to other forms of birth control. “It’s like playing the Russian roulette,” said Dr. Zamora-Castro. Women can still get pregnant from a man’s pre-cum or pre-ejaculatory fluid, while men who cannot control their orgasm can have premature ejaculation. Pulling out also does not protect against STDs.
10. Myth: Contraceptives affect your sex drive.
Fact: “Pills and tubal ligation do not affect the mood or sexual drive of a woman. They do not decrease sexual interest and pleasure,” explained Dr. Zamora-Castro.