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Birth control: Myths around contraceptive pills busted!

Birth control: Myths around contraceptive pills busted!&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Mumbai: Women, are you taking birth control pills to postpone pregnancy? Unaware about how they work? Worried about its side effects? Have any doubts regarding how safe they are? Then, don’t worry and just relax as we help you separate fact from fiction. Birth control pills are small tablets that contain hormones to prevent pregnancy. Hence, the ovaries cannot release eggs that can be fertilized.  These pills are widely used by many women.  In the below article, we aim to help you understand everything you want to know about birth control pills.

In this article, Dr Sulbha Arora, Gynaecologist & IVF Specialist and Clinical Director at Nova IVF Fertility, Mumbai dispels some myths about birth control pills.

Birth control pills contain a combination of hormones estrogen and progesterone, while, some birth control pills only contain progesterone. Birth control pills are a safe and effective method of contraception. They are around 92%-99% effective in most cases. The contraceptive effect lasts only for a month while the pill has been taken. Once the pill has been stopped, fertility resumes almost immediately. Some women do have certain misconceptions about taking the pill. Thus, it is essential to have the correct information when one decides to opt for this method of contraception.

Birth control pills: Myths and facts

Here we dispel some myths regarding birth control pills:

Myth 1: There is a risk of infertility or impact on future fertility for women who take a birth control pill. Women believe that if they take the birth control pill then there will be difficulty in conceiving in the future as well.

The combined oral contraceptive pill does not cause any infertility or impact on future fertility. This is true regardless of the duration woman has taken the pill whether it is just for a few months or for longer, the number of children the woman had in the past, or the woman’s age. The pill causes contraceptive effects only while it is being taken. Once the pill is stopped then the fertility resumes immediately.

Myth 2: The birth control pill can cause a risk of birth defects. Some women who seek family planning believe that the combined oral contraceptive pill can lead to birth defects in babies.

There is enough evidence that says the birth control pill doesn’t cause any birth defects or any harm to the foetus even if the woman becomes accidentally pregnant while taking the birth control pill.

Myth 3: The contraceptive pill can cause cancer. Some women who want to use the contraceptive pill are afraid as they believe these pills cause certain types of cancers such as breast, uterine or ovarian cancer.

The use of a combined oral contraceptive pill has proven to be beneficial in reducing the risk of two of the gynaecological cancers namely ovarian and endometrial. There are no reports of any significant increase in the incidence of any other type of cancer such as breast or cervical cancer either that can be conclusively attributed to the use of birth control pills.

Myth 4: Using a contraceptive pill leads to general health problems such as bloating, mood swings, hair loss, and headaches.

Some women may experience short-term side-effects associated with combined oral contraceptives which may include changes in the bleeding pattern, and acidity too. These side effects are not a sign of any illness and usually go away after the first few days or in some cases after a couple of months of starting an oral contraceptive pill. These are initial side-effects that go away with time. If any woman has side effects for a longer time, they may need to use a different type of contraceptive pill formulation or a different method of contraception. Women who do not see any side effects can continue using the pill for even several years without any adverse effects in the long term. Taking pills, in the long run, can reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer and protects against the formation of ovarian cysts, reduces the incidence of iron deficiency (anaemia), menstrual bleeding problems, and certain hormonal imbalances causing excessive hair or acne on the body and face.

Myth 5: The contraceptive pill can impact sexual desire or reduce pleasure during intercourse. Some women believe that taking a birth control pill can cause loss of libido or frigidity.

There is no evidence of a birth control pill affecting a woman’s sex drive. Although some women have reported an increased or decreased sexual performance, it is difficult to say whether these changes are owing to a birth control pill or coincidental, that is not due to birth control pills but other factors.

Take-home message

It is imperative to understand how birth control pills work. Do not opt for them without consulting an expert. Your doctor is the best person to determine which pill will work for you the best and has minimal side effects. Take the pill as recommended by the doctor without missing any doses. Ask the expert about when to start it, follow the same routine and take the pill at the same time and avoid taking breaks between the packs.

Dr Sulbha Arora is a guest contributor. Views expressed are personal.