Myths and Facts About Birth Control

Birth control has come a long way since the introduction of the pill 60 years ago. Today, women have lots of options to prevent pregnancy. However, the number of choices means women have a lot of information — and misinformation — to sift through. Knowing the truth about contraceptives is the first step in making sure you get the best birth control for your needs and lifestyle.

In this blog, highly experienced obstetrician and gynecologist Paul W. Morrison, M.D., discusses some of the myths and facts surrounding birth control.

Separating fact from fiction regarding birth control

Myth: Birth control makes it harder to get pregnant later

Fact: If you’re using a hormonal type of birth control, it might take a few months for ovulation to return to a normal cycle, and that can make some women worry about their ability to get pregnant. However, there is no evidence that hormonal birth control methods, such as pills, patches, or implants, have any impact on fertility over the long-run.

Myth: Hormonal contraceptives are the only reliable option

Fact: This is not true. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) made from copper don’t use hormones, and they’re one of the most effective types of birth control available. The copper material creates an environment that’s “unfriendly” to sperm, preventing fertilization from taking place. It also helps prevent the egg from embedding in the uterine lining. 

Myth: The arm implant is easy to see

Fact: Actually, the implant is very discreet. It’s inserted deep below your skin, so it’s completely hidden, and it doesn’t create a bump or other noticeable change in your skin. You will be able to feel it under your skin if you press firmly. 

Myth: Birth control will make me gain weight

Fact: Many women worry that the hormones used in many types of birth control will cause weight gain. But studies show that many women don’t gain weight as a result of using hormonal birth control, including the pill. However, when weight gain does occur, it’s usually just about 4 pounds. 

Myth: Women in their 40s and 50s don’t need birth control

Fact: Many women begin having irregular periods in their 40s and 50s as menopause begins. But although your period might not be happening like clockwork, that doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant. Even if your period has completely stopped, you’re not considered to be “in menopause” until you haven’t had periods for 12 consecutive months. In any case, it’s a good idea to schedule an office visit to make sure you’re in menopause before you assume you can’t get pregnant.

Myth: Birth control will prevent sexually transmitted diseases

Fact: The only foolproof way to not get a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is abstinence. The second safest way is to use a barrier method, such as a condom. However, even with a condom you can still contract some types of STDs, such as herpes. 

Other options, such as IUDs, birth control pills, patches, implants, and permanent sterilization can’t protect you from STDs. If you’re using one of these types of birth control, you should still use a barrier method to help prevent the transmission of disease.

Myth: I’m breastfeeding, so I don’t need birth control

Fact: Breastfeeding may help prevent pregnancy in some women, but only if specific rules are followed. For instance, you must breastfeed for the first six months of the baby’s life, and the baby should only have breastmilk during this period. That’s to ensure that your body produces the hormones necessary to prevent pregnancy. If you take a break from breastfeeding — even a brief one — you’ll lose the protection breastfeeding may provide. 

You also cannot have had a period since the baby was born. That’s a lot of rules to follow, and it probably explains why a lot of women wind up with a “surprise” pregnancy when they try to use the breastfeeding method, also called the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). Unless you are certain you can follow all the rules that go along with the LAM method, it’s a good idea to use another birth control method to help prevent pregnancy.

Choosing the best birth control option for you

Birth control is only effective when it’s used properly, so it’s important to select the method that suits your needs and preferences. As a top-ranked board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Morrison offers women a wide selection of contraceptive methods and advice on which ones may be best for them, so women can feel confident about their choice.

If you’d like to learn more about your birth control options, book an appointment online or over the phone with the practice of Paul W. Morrison, M.D. today.

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