Q: Is it common to have "baby fever"? Why do women have baby fever?
A: "Baby fever," or the desire to have children, is a common human drive. If it wasn't, we humans probably wouldn't still be around. While the term "baby fever" is most often thought of in relation to women, many men can experience it as well. It's simply a desire to have children, which most women and men report they want to do at some point in their life.
This desire can reach a "fever pitch" when women and men become older and they believe they only have a few more years left before than can no longer conceive children. This "ticking clock" may cause people to suddenly become hyper-focused on having kids "before it's too late." However, the idea that women and men cannot have children well into middle-age is largely a myth. Men have viable sperm for as long as they're alive, so there really isn't any reason why men should worry about conceiving while they're young. And, while it is true that birth defects increase slightly with the age of the mother, research shows that most women can have a healthy baby well into their 40s or even 50s. So, having "baby fever" in one's 30s is primarily a result of cultural ideas about when it's appropriate to have children.
Q: Can I have sex on my period? Is it harder to get pregnant when on my period?
A: There is no reason why a woman cannot have sex while menstruating. In fact, having sex and orgasming has been shown to help alleviate menstrual cramping. However, being on your period doesn't guarantee that you cannot get pregnant. While a woman's chance of getting pregnant while menstruating is lower than during her most fertile time of the month (i.e., ovulation), women can sometimes start their period while there is still a viable egg in the uterus. If that egg gets fertilized, then the woman's body will immediately stop menstruating and attempt to build back up the uterine lining in order for the egg to implant. So, even while menstruating, a woman should use birth control when having sex.
Q: If my partner is on birth control, is there really a need for a condom as well? Is there much difference in the chance of getting pregnant when the two methods are combined versus only using birth control?
A: Condoms are a great method of preventing birth. If they are used correctly, they can be 98% effective (meaning if 100 couples had sex regularly for a year and they used condoms, only 2 of the 100 would get pregnant by the end of the year. Birth control (oral pills, implants, IUDs, etc.) work even better. If they're used correctly, they are 99.3 - 99.5% effective (only 1 in 200 couples would get pregnant using it in a year).
If your only goal is to prevent pregnancy, there really is no reason you would need more protection than birth control alone. However, condoms are the only form of contraception that can prevent sexually transmitted infections (e.g., herpes, gonorrhea, HIV). If you're absolutely certain that you and your partner do not have STIs, then it's relatively safe to not wear condoms during sex. The other thing to consider, though, is that oral birth control is only effective if a person remembers to take it every single day. Even missing the pill for just two days can greatly reduce its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy. So, in this case, condoms can be a great backup plan.
If your partner is on an oral (pill) form of birth control, she may benefit from getting a more long-lasting form of birth control, such as an implant or IUD. You can find more information on these here. These forms of birth control don't need to be administered every day, so there's no chance of forgetting to take it and becoming unprotected. Studies show these "long acting, reversible contraceptives" (LARCs) tend to be much more effective in reducing pregnancy, even when compared to traditional birth control. In other words, if you're using a LARC and neither of you have an STI, then there really isn't a need to use condoms.
Q: Can a woman get pregnant from pre-cum?
A: While the most commonly cited answer for this question on the internet is "Yes," it turns out that the idea a woman can get pregnant from pre-ejaculate (pre-cum) is somewhat of a myth. Pre-ejaculate actually comes from the Cowper's gland (which is located just behind the penis) and normally contains no sperm. The fluid is just meant to clean out the urethra and vagina, so that sperm aren't harmed by any of the acidic fluids that are usually in those areas. But, scientists used to believe that this fluid sometimes contains sperm too. We now know that it doesn't.
This myth originated from studies where men produced pre-ejaculate and ejaculate multiple times in quick succession. They did this in order to produce enough fluids to be analyzed in a lab. When this is done, sperm can be left in the urethra from the last ejaculation and then the pre-ejaculate can push some of it out, making it look like pre-ejaculate contains sperm. However, unless a man has very recently ejaculated, pre-ejaculate contains no sperm at all. So, women really don't need to worry about getting pregnant from pre-ejaculate, unless their male sex partner has very recently ejaculated.
Q: After giving a handjob to my boyfriend, he ejaculates, and it spread on both of our hands we clean ourselves and it dries up. Should I (girl) be concerned if he right after touches my genitals? Because my breast a day later started getting tendered.
A: You definitely don't want to rub semen onto the vagina if you don't want to get pregnant. Sperm is very mobile and, once introduced to the vagina, they can survive for up to 5 days. This might allow them the opportunity to swim up through the cervix and to enter the uterus. So, it's best to play it safe and thoroughly wash the semen off with water and soap after he ejaculates. That should flush away and kill any sperm and then it's perfectly safe for him or yourself to touch your vagina.
Breasts can become tender for different reasons. This can happen at various times during a woman's menstrual cycle (most commonly during ovulation or right before menstruating) due to fluctuating hormones. It can also happen if a woman gets pregnant, also due to fluctuating hormones. So, you should wait to see if you develop any other signs of pregnancy (e.g., fatigue, water retention, swelling of the breasts, nausea). Although, it's unlikely that you would be at risk for becoming pregnant if you both washed the semen off your hands before he made contact with your vagina again.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.