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Myth Busters! Discussing and debunking common birth control misconceptions

Myth Busters! Discussing and debunking common birth control misconceptions

Birth control became widely available in the 1960’s, and since then it has been a simultaneously wonderful and controversial thing. There are many forms of birth control, including the pill, the patch, the ring, the shot, the arm implant, and the IUD, which not only help to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but can also help to alleviate period cramping/pain, lessen heavy periods, control hormonal acne, and so much more. While the past 60 years have brought about many updates and improvements in the world of contraceptives, so too have those years brought many questions and uncertainties, which ultimately led to misconceptions and myths. It is these incorrect ideas that still today cause women who could benefit from birth control to avoid it at all costs.

So let’s bust some of these common myths so that you can feel confident, healthy, and happy with your birth control decisions!

1. Birth control can lead to infertility or make it more difficult to conceive in the future.

    • False: Being on birth control will not make it more difficult for you to become pregnant in the future. Once you stop your birth control, whether that be the IUD, arm implant, patch, pill, or ring, you can technically become pregnant right away or shortly thereafter. The shot may take slightly longer than the other types of hormonal contraception to leave your system, even still, it does not cause infertility.
      • Disclaimer: It may be more difficult to become pregnant if you come off of birth control and you already had a condition that makes it difficult to conceive (for example, polycystic ovarian syndrome). However, birth control does not cause or worsen these conditions.

2. Birth control causes weight gain.

    • False: Birth control is zero calories, ladies! Birth control itself does not cause weight gain. However, the shift in hormones associated with any form of hormonal contraceptive can cause a transient increase in weight due to fluid retention, especially just before menses. Therefore, that temporary extra pound or two you see on the scale is likely just that- temporary! Research on this subject has largely discredited the idea for almost all types of contraception, with the exception of depo-provera, or “the shot”, which has been linked to weight gain. If you experience weight gain, talk to your provider to determine if there may be a better form of birth control for you!

3. You have to take the birth control pill at the exact same time every single day.

    • Kind of false? This depends somewhat on what type of birth control pill you are taking. If you are taking the “mini-pill”, i.e. progestin-only birth control pill, it’s important that you take your pill as close to the same time every day as possible. This is because progestin primarily works by thickening your cervical mucus and thinning the endometrial lining, while doing an okay job at suppressing ovulation. It is this inconsistent ability to prevent ovulation that makes it so important to be taken at the same time everyday. However, birth control pills that have both estrogen and progestin (which are much more commonly prescribed), do a better job at reliably preventing ovulation, and thus have a bit more wiggle room for error. Ideally you will get into a routine and take your birth control pill at the same time everyday (i.e. when you’re brushing you teeth in the morning, when you’re plugging your phone in at night, etc.), but if you were to forget to take a combination hormone pill for a few hours, it is recommended that you just take it as soon as you remember. If you forget to take a pill within a 10-12+ hour time frame of when you typically take it, it is recommended that you use back up contraception for a period of time. Forget your pill and not sure what to do? Give us a call or come on in and see us!

4. It’s unsafe to be taking or using a form of birth control that doesn’t allow you to get your period.

    • False: It is not unhealthy or “dangerous” to be on a form of contraception that causes you to skip or entirely get rid of your periods. This happens largely because of the progestin in the birth control that causes a thinning of the endometrial lining within the uterus, meaning there is no lining to be shed. This can also happen when you take continuous combined hormonal contraceptives, like the pills, patch, or ring. This essentially means that you take consistent hormones and never have a withdraw bleed, or period, like you normally would on say, the placebo week of birth control pills. Being on continuous birth control means skipping periods, and may be beneficial for women with painful or heavy periods. This is something that should always be discussed with your provider prior to attempting, whether it be with pills, patches, or the ring.

5. The arm implant, IUD, and/or ring can travel throughout the body, and therefore are dangerous.

    • Mostly false: The IUD, arm implant, and ring are all very safe (otherwise we wouldn’t be prescribing them on a daily basis, y’all!). First of all, the ring sits within the vagina, so there’s no way for it to enter into other parts of your body. The IUD sits within the uterus and is very safe! It is rare, but possible, to have the IUD poke through the wall of the uterus, thus allowing it to travel into other parts of your body (again, very rare). The arm implant sits just below the skin and may move slightly one way or the other, but in the vast majority of patients, stays right where it is placed, and only rarely is displaced and travels into other parts of the arm/body. Obviously the key word in this myth buster is RARE, and the take away that these forms of birth control are safe and effective.

These are just a few of the very common misconceptions surrounding birth control. Have more questions about birth control or need more myths busted? Make an appointment with your provider today to discuss all of your birth control options!

 

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We proudly serve patients needing gynecology services, obstetrics and overall women's health in the following areas of Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, Castle Hills, Medical Center, Hill Country, Stone Oak, Hollywood Park, Downtown, Bulverde, Spring Branch, Leon Springs, Boerne, Alamo Ranch and many other neighborhoods in the greater San Antonio. Our main office is located at 7711 Louis Pasteur Dr. Suite 200, San Antonio, Texas 78229 and our second location is located at 9842 Westover Hills Blvd, Suite 115, San Antonio, Texas 78251.