Society and Culture

Legal status
Some states formerly had laws prohibiting the use of contraception. In 1965, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case Griswold v. Connecticut that a Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraceptives violated the "right to marital privacy". In 1972, the case Eisenstadt v. Baird expanded the right to possess and use contraceptives to unmarried couples.

Religious views on birth control
Religions vary widely in their views of the ethics of birth control. The Roman Catholic Church accepts only Natural Family Planning and only for serious reasons, while Protestants maintain a wide range of views from allowing none to very lenient. Views in Judaism range from the stricter Orthodox sect to the more relaxed Reform sect. Hindus may use both natural and artificial contraceptives. A common Buddhist view of birth control is that preventing conception is ethically acceptable, while intervening after conception has occurred or may have occurred is not.

In Islam, contraceptives are allowed if they do not threaten health, although their use is discouraged by some. The Quran does not make any explicit statements about the morality of contraception, but contains statements encouraging procreation. Prophet Muhammad also is reported to have said "marry and procreate".

Cultural attitudes
According to Peter Mulira, "Reproduction in Africa is a cultural issue in which large families are seen as a source of free labour and wealth."

Many nations in Western Europe today would have declining populations if it were not for international immigration. The feminist movement has affected change in Western society, including education; and the reproductive rights of women to make individual decisions on pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion).

A number of nations today are experiencing population decline. Growing female participation in the work force and greater numbers of women going into further education has led to many women delaying or deciding against having children, or to not have as many. In Eastern Europe and Russia, natality fell abruptly after the end of the Soviet Union. The World Bank issued a report predicting that between 2007 and 2027 the populations of Georgia and Ukraine will decrease by 17% and 24% respectively.

Sex education
Many teenagers, most commonly in developed countries, receive some form of sex education in school. What information should be provided in such programs is hotly contested, especially in the United States and United Kingdom. Topics include reproductive anatomy, human sexual behavior, information on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), social aspects of sexual interaction, negotiating skills intended to help teens follow through with a decision to remain abstinent or to use birth control during sex, and information on birth control methods.

One type of sex education program used in some more conservative areas of the United States is called abstinence-only education, and it generally promotes complete sexual abstinence until marriage. The programs do not encourage birth control, often provide inaccurate information about contraceptives and sexuality, stress failure rates of condoms and other contraceptives, and teach strategies for avoiding sexually intimate situations. Advocates of abstinence-only education believe that the programs will result in decreased rates of teenage pregnancy and STD infection.

Abstinence-only sex education programs show an increase the rates of pregnancy and STDs in the teenage population in randomized controlled trials. Professional medical organizations, including the AMA, AAP, ACOG, APHA, APA, and Society for Adolescent Medicine, support comprehensive sex education (providing abstinence and contraceptive information) and oppose the sole use of abstinence-only sex education.

Modern misconceptions and urban legends have given rise to a great many false claims:

The suggestion that douching with any substance immediately following intercourse works as a contraceptive is untrue. While it may seem like a sensible idea to try to wash the ejaculate out of the vagina, it is not likely to be effective. Due to the nature of the fluids and the structure of the female reproductive tract, douching most likely actually spreads semen further towards the uterus. Some slight spermicidal effect may occur if the douche solution is particularly acidic, but overall it is not scientifically observed to be a reliably effective method. Douching is neither a contraceptive nor a preventative measure against STDs or other infections.

It is untrue that a female cannot become pregnant as a result of the first time she engages in sexual intercourse.

While women are usually less fertile for the first few days of menstruation, it is a myth that a woman absolutely cannot get pregnant if she has sex during her period.

Having sex in a hot tub does not prevent pregnancy, but may contribute to vaginal infections.

There is no evidence that any particular sexual position is more likely to lead to conception and no sexual position prevents pregnancy. Having sex while standing up or with a woman on top will not keep the sperm from entering the uterus. The force of ejaculation, the contractions of the uterus caused by prostaglandins in the semen, as well as ability of the sperm to swim overrides gravity.

Urinating after sex does not prevent pregnancy and is not a form of birth control, although it is often advised anyway to help prevent urinary tract infections.

Toothpaste cannot be used as an effective contraceptive.

Though intrauterine devices (IUDs) are popular in many parts of the world, many people in the United States believe they are dangerous, probably in large part due to the widely publicized health risks associated with an IUD model called the Dalkon Shield. In reality, the most recent models of the IUD, ParaGard and Mirena, are both extremely safe and effective.