From weight gain to infertility – these are common misconceptions about birth control pills. These allegations have no scientific evidence.
“I stopped taking birth control pills after two years because they began to affect my mood,” “I do not take pills because it reduces the likelihood of becoming pregnant in the future,” “I don’t want to take pills because they contribute to weight gain,”- these are just some of the most common beliefs about combination oral contraceptives. But how true are they?
Today we will share the most popular myths about this type of contraception and dispel them.
Myth 1: “You need to take a break from the pill”
The opinion that birth control pills can negatively affect you if you take them for a long period of time is very common. If initially they worked properly and did not negatively affect your well-being, then there is no reason to think that this will happen in the future. One or two decades ago, the pills had a higher dose of the hormone, so side effects were more likely. But this does not mean that they negate ovarian function or reproductive function. Ultimately, you do not need to take a break from the pill.
Myth 2: “Birth control pills provoke hunger and weight gain”
Most of us have heard of those women who suddenly gained weight after taking oral hormonal contraceptives, but doctors refute this theory. No study has proven a link between birth control pills and weight gain – although they can lead to slight water retention in the body for the first three months while your body adapts. There are pills that, on the contrary, cause weight loss due to their diuretic effect. Doctors also confirm that the pills do not cause hunger.
Myth 3: “Birth control pills cause many side effects”
While side effects can vary from person to person, doctors say that a large percentage of women who take pills experience no adverse reactions. The information package insert that comes with birth control tells patients about the approximate incidence of side effects. The most common side effects are mood swings, irritability, or some discharge between periods during the first few months. Gynecologists believe that approximately 90% of women taking birth control pills feel comfortable and do not stop taking them.
Myth 4: “Birth control pills help treat acne and restore hormonal balance”
Doctors confirm that birth control pills are sometimes used to treat skin and restore hormone balance. But in this case, they must be prescribed by a specialist. Teenage girls can fight acne with oral contraceptives since they lower testosterone levels. Many dermatologists also suggest taking oral contraceptives to enhance the effect during skin treatment by regulating hormone levels.
Myth 5: “Birth control pills may cause pigment spots”
Everyone needs sunscreen but especially those who are taking oral contraceptives. In some patients, such drugs increase the production of melanin in the skin, which means that they can become more susceptible to melasma or pigmentation. Darker spots may appear on the upper lip, forehead, and cheeks and may persist for several years after stopping hormonal contraception. Therefore, those who take pills need at least SPF15.
Myth 6: “Birth control pills can reduce fertility even after you stop taking them”
Many women fear that their fertility will be permanently violated if they start taking pills and that in the future this will affect the possibility of having children. However, according to doctors, contraceptives stop ovulation in the middle of the menstrual cycle and thereby eliminate the secretion of hormones in the body. While taking birth control pills, the ovaries are in a blocked or inactive state. But no matter how long you take the pill, your natural ovulation cycle should return when you stop taking them. Contraceptives do not stop and do not reduce reproductive function. If a woman cannot conceive after quitting contraception, she should look for other reasons.
Myth 7: “Once birth control is stopped, the chances of getting pregnant increase”
The idea that oral contraceptives can increase fertility is also a myth. This statement is absolutely untrue. If this were so, gynecologists would prescribe birth control pills to help the patient become pregnant. They do not help to conceive and do not prevent this. They simply block hormonal functions that are fully restored after contraception quitting.
Myth 8: “Birth control pills cause mood swings and irritability”
Women often associate increased emotionality with the effect of pills on our mood, and this is considered one of their side effects. However, doctors say that it is very difficult to attribute mood swings and irritability to birth control pills, There have been studies when participants taking pills said they were feeling sadder, more fun, or in the same mood as before. But did they take into account external factors that also affect mood? Is it fair to put all the blame on hormonal treatment? So, although there is no way to completely eliminate this, there is no way to verify this for sure. Ideally, a patient who needs effective and long-term contraception should check how she feels while taking the pills.
Myth 9: “Some medicines counteract the effects of birth control pills”
This is one of the few popular opinions that are true. Rifampicin and rifabutin (both antibiotics) reduce the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives. Azithromycin, ampicillin, amoxicillin, nitrofurantoin, clarithromycin, metronidazole, ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, penicillin, tetracycline, cefazolin, levofloxacin, clindamycin, erythromycin, fosfomycin, trimethoprim, and sulfamethoxazole can also interact with birth control. If you are taking any of these medications (consult your doctor if you are not sure) – or St. John’s wort, which many gynecologists also add to this list – you must use barrier contraception methods until you finish treatments to avoid pregnancy.