When it comes to menstruation, pregnancy and birth control, it can be hard to decipher between scientific fact and housewife tale. Either way, it’s important to understand your body and what you put into it in order to keep healthy. Understanding birth control options are an important way for women to empower themselves and take control of their health and wellness.
We’ve listed some of the most common myths and facts about contraception to keep you informed.
1. The Pill Makes You Gain Weight
Many women say that they experience weight gain as a side-effect of hormonal contraception. Is this true or are we just using it as an excuse to keep overeating? Well, according to Health.com, there is no scientific evidence that hormonal contraceptives including the combined oral pill, IUD or implant to cause you to gain weight.
However, oestrogen (found in almost all hormonal contraceptives) may promote water retention before your period. So, it may seem like you gained weight on the scale, but this typically vanishes after your period. This is a temporary side-effect and researchers have found that this fluid retention eases up after 3 months of hormonal contraceptive use.
2. Birth Control is 100% Effective
Unfortunately, no known contraceptives are completely effective – not even some methods of female sterilization.
However, when taken correctly, oral birth control can be up to 99.9% accurate.
If you’re apprehensive, speak to a medical practitioner for help.
3. The Pill Can Cause Infertility Later
There is no known connection between taking the pill and infertility. In fact, fertility can return almost immediately after stopping the pill, which is why it’s important not to miss one.
However, some women may temporarily face a delay in becoming pregnant after stopping pill use. This is mostly found in women who had irregular periods before starting it. Also, when you’re not trying to get pregnant, you might be unaware of any natural fertility issues and might only discovered after stopping the pill.
4. The Pill is Only for Women Who Want to Prevent Pregnancy
Many women take contraception as a birth control method but there are many other health benefits. This includes reducing menstrual cramps and ovulation pain, regulating your cycle (as well as the ability to control the timing of your period), minimizing PMS symptoms and many more.
It can also provide protection against ectopic pregnancy, decrease the chance of the development of ovarian cancer and have beneficial effect on acne, menstrual migraines and pain or discomfort caused by breast cysts towards the end of the menstrual cycle.
5. Women Over 35 Must Stop Birth Control
Women with normal blood pressure, no increased risk of heart attack or stroke, and who don’t smoke can often use lower-dose pills until menopause. In fact, the pill might actually be more beneficial during this time as many women experience heavy or irregular cycles as a result of perimenopause.
6. Smokers Can’t Use the Pill
Women who smoke have a higher risk of having a stroke in general. However, studies have shown that women who smoke over the age of 35+ and use the combination pill has an increased chance of cardiovascular side-effects including blood clot formation, stroke and heart attack. This is why many doctors are apprehensive about prescribing women in this bracket.
However, there are low-dose combination pills and progestin-only pills (also known as the minipill) that are available for smokers. Generally, the pill is also unsafe for women who are heavy smokers.
If you’re a smoker seeking for birth control, speak to a medical practitioner. It’s important that you are honest with your doctor about it.
7. All Birth Control Are the Same
Today, there are so many different birth control methods available to us. But not all are the same, they can contain different levels of hormones and may also provide different doses at various times throughout each pill pack cycle.
Combination pills contain oestrogen and progestin and minipills only contain progestin.
What’s more is that each brand may affect a woman’s body chemistry differently. Some may even have different benefits and side effects.
It is therefore important that you speak to your local doctor about a pill that works for your body and lifestyle specifically.
If you want to learn more about pregnancy prevention, see our related blogs and stay informed about your body.