Birth control has become amazing in the last few years. It’s now more protective than ever, almost 100% if used properly, and there is a type to suit most women. But, while the pill itself is getting better, our knowledge of it doesn’t seem to be. Recent studies showed that huge numbers of women believed myths about their birth control, and even more didn’t know what it did and how to use it effectively. Here are the most common myths, for the record...
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One of the earlier versions of the pill contained a high amount of estrogen and progesterone, which are both female hormones which can cause weight gain. Newer versions of the pill contain much lower levels, and so weight gain is much less likely. Only 20 to 25 per cent of women gain more then 2kg in the first year of usage, and 60 per cent have no weight change at all. 20 per cent actually lost more than 2kg! So don’t write off the pill due to this, as it is very rare, and if it occurs, you can simply change medication.
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This one is quite shocking...my doctor made this really clear to me when I started taking the pill, but it appears other doctors aren’t quite so great. While the pill is very effective at protecting against pregnancy, it offers no protection against STDs, or HIV. Condoms are the only way to stay safe from these, and some infections such as herpes can even be spread when a condom is used if the infection is higher up then the condom.
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Taking the pill will not cause you to abort the child if you are pregnant, but can cause some difficulties during the pregnancy due to the hormones involved. As soon as you suspect you are pregnant, stop taking the pill and go to see a doctor. They can confirm your pregnancy, and discuss your options with you.
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The pill is one of the most effective forms of birth control, but it isn’t foolproof. It is 96-99% effective if taken perfectly, but realistically, it is closer to 87%. To be effective, the pill has to be taken every day, at the same time. No days can be missed, and you would have to be in good health – ie not throwing up or suffering from diarrhoea, which could cause the pill to not be absorbed.
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You can take the pill for years and years and years, and it will not affect your fertility. The pill suppresses ovulation, to prevent pregnancy, but does not damage the ovaries. If you take it for a very long period, it could take a while for your periods to return to normal afterwards, but it will not damage your fertility. The standard advice is to wait for two menstrual cycles to pass before attempting to get pregnant.
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A lot of women believe that they need to take regular breaks from the pill or they will suffer from side effects, including headaches and stomach pains. The truth is that most women do not need a break from the pill, but if you are concerned, see your gynaecologist. They will be able to recommend whether or not you need a break, and if you do, sort out alternative contraception with you.
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The pill will not make your periods heavier, and for most people, have the opposite effect! It is regularly prescribed to women who are struggling with heavier periods, as most people suffer from less menstrual cramps, pain and PMS symptoms while taking it. Your period is likely to be shorter, too.
It is really important to know the medication you are taking, how to take it and what the benefits and risks are! I struggled to remember about the pill when I started taking it, and I get forgetful even now, so I’ll be printing this off and putting it in the back of my diary. After all, it’s better to be in the know then end up in a sticky situation! Have you heard a myth about the pill? Please let me know!
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