Misconceptions about reproductive health continue to be an issue, especially for women.
America isn’t known for having very good sex education, and many parents are hesitant to have the uncomfortable discussions with their children.
It’s unfortunate that this is the case, because it leads to a lot of problems. I’ve heard of girls getting their periods in their adolescent years, not knowing what a period was and freaking out. I’d like to debunk a few of those myths.
One of the first common myths I’d like to touch on is the idea that it’s impossible to get pregnant while on your period. While unlikely, it can still happen. Sperm can live in the body for three to five days, and some people’s periods overlap with their ovulation.
Another myth is that Plan B or “morning after” pills are the same as an abortion.
I was taught this in a class, but it’s not true. Emergency contraceptives work to prevent the release of an egg or prevent the sperm from fertilizing it. This is only effective for up to three days after the user has unprotected sex. It will not be effective on an existing pregnancy.
Mifeprex, the pill abortion, is taken after a pregnancy is confirmed through an ultrasound. The first pill, which stops the hormone needed for fetus growth, is taken at the doctor’s office. The second, which induces what is similar to a miscarriage, is taken at home up to two days later. It can be used up to 10 weeks after the patient’s last period. This is only available from doctors.
Many also think that people use abortions as contraceptives, but that makes no sense.
Abortions are expensive and not covered by many insurances, while contraceptives are relatively cheap, and some kinds are
covered by most insurance plans.
It is also a widespread belief that people only take birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. While that is what they were intended for, there are also a lot of other reasons for taking them.
Birth control pills can be used to help people who have PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) by balancing hormones and preventing unwanted or excessive hair growth, acne, weight gain and painful or irregular periods. Many people without PCOS have similar symptoms, and birth control can help with those as well.
One myth that often scares young people is that “virgins can’t use tampons.”
This is because of the miseducation about the hymen – a thin membrane across the vaginal opening that thins and opens up as someone ages.
By the age someone gets their first period, it is open enough for menstrual fluid to pass through, and thus also open enough to use a tampon, regardless of whether or not one has had sex.
I believe that we need to debunk these myths, because they can cause people to make uninformed decisions about their health care.
We should provide better education about sensitive healthcare topics like this, as well as create more open environments where it’s OK for teenagers to ask parents, teachers or other trusted adults questions.
Opinion by Maria Ranger, Vanguard Reporter