When it comes to birth control, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. These misconceptions can prevent people from starting birth control, which can lead to unintended pregnancies or cause reproductive health issues to be left untreated. In honor of World Contraception Day, it’s important to address these misconceptions and provide accurate information so you can decide on your terms. Let’s explore some common misconceptions:
Disclaimer: This is not individual medical advice; any of these topics can and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
One of the most common misconceptions surrounding birth control is the belief that there is a “perfect” form of contraception. Unfortunately, this is not the case. No form of birth control is 100% effective, meaning there is always a slight chance of pregnancy occurring, regardless of the method used.
It’s important to remember that birth control options vary from person to person, and what may work for one individual may not work for another. For example, some people may prefer hormonal methods like the pill or implant. Others may opt for a non-hormonal option, such as the copper IUD (Paraguard). It’s all about finding the correct method for your body and lifestyle.
It’s also important to note that user error can impact its effectiveness. For example, missing a pill or not using a condom correctly can increase the risk of pregnancy. It’s essential to understand that while birth control can significantly reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy, it is not foolproof. Communication with healthcare providers and understanding the limitations of each method are crucial in making informed decisions about contraception.
Birth control doesn’t directly affect weight gain because it doesn’t change the calories you consume or burn. However, the Depo-Provera shot is known to cause water retention or changes in appetite, which may lead to weight gain. It’s also possible that weight gain results from other factors, such as lifestyle or hormonal changes. Many studies surrounding weight gain also mention that it is normal to gain weight as you age. Gaining more than >2 lbs a year is considered average weight gain, regardless of birth control usage. According to a medical study, no evidence supports a relationship between combination oral contraceptives or a combination skin patch and weight change. They found that different combination contraceptives did not create a significant difference in weight, and women who discontinued using combination contraceptives due to weight change did not differ from those who continued to use them.
Another misconception surrounding birth control is that it can cause long-term damage to a woman’s reproductive system. While some birth control methods, such as the copper IUD, can temporarily increase cramping and bleeding during menstruation, they do not negatively affect fertility. Most forms of birth control work by preventing ovulation or preventing sperm from reaching the egg and do not affect the health or function of the reproductive system.
It’s important to note that while birth control may not cause fertility issues, infertility can still occur for various reasons. Some medical conditions or individual factors, such as age, smoking, and obesity, can impact fertility regardless of whether or not birth control has been used. Additionally, some people may experience temporary fertility issues after stopping birth control as their bodies adjust to returning to a natural menstrual cycle, but this typically returns to normal within 1-3 months. Data shows that 83% of people who desire to get pregnant will get pregnant within a year of discontinuing birth control.
Birth control can be beneficial in managing symptoms associated with conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), among others. Additionally, some individuals turn to birth control to regulate their menstrual cycle, particularly if they experience amenorrhea (absent period), severe cramps, or heavy menstrual bleeding.
It’s worth noting that estrogen-based birth control methods are known to effectively help manage acne by stabilizing hormone levels, which play a role in the development of acne breakouts. This notion that birth control is only for sexually active people is harmful because it stigmatizes those seeking it for non-sexual reasons. It can prevent people from seeking the relief they need because they are afraid of being judged or shamed, which reinforces the idea that sex itself is something to be ashamed of.
People often confuse this information because birth control is often prescribed with information about safe sex practices. This is particularly dangerous because it can create a false sense of security. Birth control only prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation or making it harder for sperm to reach the egg. It does not provide any protection against sexually transmitted infections or diseases because those are caused by bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens that can be transmitted through sexual contact, whether oral or penetrative. Only barrier methods, like condoms and dental dams, can help prevent the spread of STIs. If you need condoms, A Step Ahead will mail them to you free of charge. Fill out this condom request form! Remember, regular testing and communication with sexual partners can help reduce the risk of infection.
While some people may experience side effects when using birth control, such as mood changes or anxiety, these effects are generally temporary and mild. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider if these symptoms persist or become severe.
Additionally, studies have shown that birth control can positively impact mental health for various reasons, such as aiding in hormone regulation, acne management, reduced pain from PMDD, improved quality of life, and reduced anxiety; knowing you are protected against unintended pregnancies can reduce anxiety and stress related to sexual activity.
It is also important to note that mental illness can be complex, and many factors beyond birth control can contribute to a person’s mental health. It is crucial to prioritize self-care and seek support from healthcare professionals if needed.