My sister wants to start birth control but is afraid of the side effects. Is it true that women gain weight when they are on hormonal birth control? Can you still get pregnant afterward?
Those are very very VERY common concerns. There is so much information on birth control out there that it is hard to know what is true and what isn’t. Here I debunk 5 of the most common birth control myths I have heard! What others have YOU heard??? Let me know! Oh, and I should mention that hormonal birth control only protects you against pregnancy. It does not protect you against STDs/HIV. Aside from not having sex at all, condoms are your best option for preventing STDs/HIV.
Myth #1: “I can’t get pregnant on my period!”
Fact: Not true! Although you are most likely to get pregnant in the middle of your cycle (right between your periods – when your ovary releases an egg), you CAN get pregnant any time throughout your cycle. There are a number of reasons for this. First, not everyone has a regular cycle (a regular period). Not having a regular cycle makes it really really difficult to know when you are ovulating (that’s what it’s called when your ovary releases an egg). Also, sperm can survive in a woman’s body for up to a week! So even if you have sex a week before you ovulate, sperm can be there waiting for the egg. So if you are not trying to get pregnant, it’s really important to use a birth control method. Using a birth control method is WAY easier than trying to figure out when you are ovulating (remember, that’s when the ovary releases an egg and happens between periods).
Myth #2: “Birth control makes girls fat!”
Fact: Not true. Most women do NOT gain weight on birth control. For those who do, it is only a small amount. Some girls even report losing weight on birth control. If you gain weight you need to think about lifestyle changes that may be to blame – like not exercising, eating junk food, driving instead of walking, and just getting older.
Girls often focus on side effects and overlook all of the good things about hormonal birth control like lighter periods, less PMS, less acne, lowering your chances of getting cancer of the ovaries and uterus. And most importantly – not getting pregnant! It’s also important to remember that the weight gain you fear from birth control doesn’t compare to the weight you would gain from pregnancy!
Myth #3: “I tried birth control and didn’t like it – which means I should not try anything else!”
Fact: There are many different kinds of birth control, and different women have different responses. Many women have to wait a few months to let their body get used to birth control (this goes for all medications). You may also have to try different kinds before finding one that works best for you.
One common thing that happens is that a friend or family member tried something and didn’t like it, which makes you think it won’t work well for you. But that’s not true. You are a different person – with a different body, likes and dislikes, and lifestyle. Many of these myths are told to us by people who care, but unfortunately they may not know all the facts. Always get your sex information from a trained health educator or clinician. Call and make an appointment at New Gen to get your questions answered. Everything is free and confidential.
Myth #4: “IUDs (a method that is placed in the uterus) are only for older women or women who have children already.”
Fact: Again, not true! IUDs are great for young people. I have one! The best thing about IUDs is that they last for years. They don’t require you to take a pill every day or get a shot every 3 months. It’s really safe and effective, not messy, it is easy to use, and it is something you don’t have to think about. Seriously, once it’s placed you almost forget you even have it!
Myth #5: “Using birth control will make it harder to get pregnant later.”
Fact: Not True. Hormonal birth control works by stopping you from ovulating (when the egg leaves the ovary). When you stop using your birth control you start ovulating again. That is why many women get pregnant right after using a birth control method. That means that taking a “break” from your birth control also puts you at risk (by the way, the body does not need a “break” from birth control). How many of you know someone who stopped taking the pill because they broke up with a boyfriend and then they got back together …just once…and they got pregnant… or they forgot to use a condom…just that one time? It is very easy for young women to get pregnant; birth control only works when you are using it. That’s why you should be using a birth control method, especially a long acting and reversible birth control method (like an IUD, implant or Depo), even if you are between partners or you are not having sex regularly.
In happiness & health,
Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP