Birth control pills haven’t been in common use for very long. Whilst women have employed contraceptive methods for centuries, the idea of a pill as contraception is a relatively new concept — and it also isn’t one that people talk about very often. This can create an aura of mystery and misinformation about it, so there are plenty of myths floating around out there concerning contraceptive pills.
We’re going to tackle some of the most dangerous and prevalent myths relating to both birth control pills and birth control in general, so you can get the facts you need to know.
1. Pulling Out Is An Effective Birth Control Measure
Many couples hoping to enjoy intercourse but not become pregnant employ what is known as the pull-out method. This involves the male pulling out of the female before ejaculation. Whilst it sounds good in theory, it’s not very effective in practice. That’s because semen can be released before ejaculation. Additionally, it takes a lot of discipline for the male to be able to pull out in time, and the statistics show that this method results in pregnancy for 25% of couples when it is their only form of birth control.
2. Use Of Birth Control Pills Leads To Cancer
No matter what you are doing, if people don’t like it or fear it, at some point, somebody will suggest that it causes cancer or increases the risk of cancer. There is some actual research behind the claims that birth control pills will cause cervical cancer, though. Some studies have shown that the hormonal changes that it causes can slightly increase the risk of cancer in younger women. This is a risk that decreases back to its normal levels after they stop taking the pill for at least 10 years.
For women who are 30 or older, the risk factors don’t really change when they use the pill. In fact, quite the opposite occurs. The pill actually protects them from cervical and ovarian cancers, lowering their risk. This is one myth that only holds partial truth for some people.
3. The Longer You Take the Pill, The Harder It Will Be To Become Pregnant When You Stop
This is a myth a lot of people have trouble denouncing, since it seems to make sense. Many people believe that if you take the pill for a long time, once you stop, you will have a difficult time becoming pregnant. They think there are permanent changes that occur and that your body is simply used to the idea of not being pregnant anymore. However, that isn’t true, as you can become pregnant as soon as you stop taking the pill. Your hormone levels won’t shoot back to normal as soon as you stop taking it; so yes it is, in theory, harder for you to become pregnant right away. Pregnancy is still possible though, and the chances of it only increase as you stay off the pill.
4. You Cannot Become Pregnant While On The Pill
This is a dangerous misconception, and it is one lots of people share. Even though the pharmacist or doctor will tell them up front that there is a chance they will still become pregnant while taking birth control, many people simply won’t believe it. They think that taking the pill is 100% effective. That’s not the case, though, as some people still do become pregnant while on birth control pills. The chance of that occurring is small, but it is still there, and everyone taking the pill or considering taking it needs to realize that and be prepared.
5. You Can’t Become Pregnant While Breastfeeding
This is another common myth that is just plain wrong, and it can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. If you are breastfeeding, your hormone levels will change, which can cause you to experience lower fertility levels, but there is still a chance you can get pregnant. It’s a good rule of thumb that anytime you hear someone say that you can’t be pregnant while doing something, then there is actually still a chance pregnancy is possible.
6. Birth Control Pills Prevent STDs
You may have heard that if you are on the pill, then you are protected from STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). This myth isn’t based on any actual fact, since all the pill protects you from is pregnancy, and it doesn’t even do that 100%. You can still receive STDs as easily as ever while taking the pill. If you are having sex with an infected partner, you always want to wear protection, such as a condom.
7. Pregnancy Can Be Aborted By The Morning-After Pill
There are misconceptions about the morning-after pill as well. Some people believe it causes an abortion as soon as you use it, but that’s not the case. Instead, its mechanism prevents ovulation or fertilization, depending on what has occurred within the body so far. If you are already pregnant, it won’t do anything for you. It should only be used to prevent a pregnancy and not to try to stop one after it has occurred.
8. Taking A Birth Control Pill Will Be Effective Immediately
It may be easy to conflate or mix up the idea of a birth control pill with a morning-after pill, but they don’t quite work the same way. The birth control pill is meant to be cycled and taken on a schedule that works with your hormonal changes to prevent pregnancy. If you just start taking it whenever you want, it may not work the way it is supposed to, and you can end up with an unplanned pregnancy.
9. You Can’t Become Pregnant During Your Period
While your menstrual cycle will interfere with pregnancy and make it impossible for you to become pregnant during specific days, you can still get pregnant if you had intercourse during those days. That’s because the semen can sit inside your vagina for almost a week, still viable and ready to fertilize any eggs that emerge.
10. You Should Take Breaks From Using Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are not actually dangerous for most women, and they should be safe for you to use as long as you want. However, if you take the birth control shot, then your body can start to lose minerals over time, and it may be necessary to break every now and then to let your body replenish its supply.
Featured photo credit: CDDEP Communications via flickr.com