Five misconceptions about contraceptive pills busted

Dr Neha Bothara explains how the birth control pill is safe, affordable and effective when used correctly.

There are many risks that myths and misconceptions around oral contraceptive pills can bring along. For example, unfounded concerns or false perceptions deter men and women from using a particular contraceptive method or contraceptive altogether. It can ultimately lead to unwanted pregnancies and unnecessary physical as well as mental harm to the woman. However, with the right amount of education, women can easily have a healthy sexual and reproductive life.

The biggest advantage of oral contraceptive pills is that they are effective and have a very low failure rate when used correctly; other benefits include regular menstrual cycles and lighter flow. However, taking one pill daily can seem tedious for some women and can also lead to missed pills which add to the failure rate. Therefore, women need to take responsibility for their reproductive health while consuming contraceptive consciously and carefully. All women must consult a gynaecologist before starting any new contraceptive, especially pills.

Learn the truths about 5 contraceptive myths that you should not believe:

ALL CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS LEAD TO WEIGHT GAIN: First generation contraceptive pills caused some temporary weight gain related to fluid retention in the body. However, newer formulations do not cause weight gain, rather they help with weight loss in patients who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) along with other benefits.

CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS LEAD TO ACNE OR ABNORMAL HAIR GROWTH: Newer contraceptive pill formulations with different progesterone components, reduce testosterone concentration and reduce the incidence of acne in patients with PCOS.

IT IS ALL RIGHT TO MISS ONE OR MORE PILLS IN THE CYCLE: Missing pills during the cycle should not be taken lightly. It can lead to unexpected pregnancy due to contraception failure. Moreover, it can also cause spotting or mid-cycle bleeding to begin. One must always consult a gynaecologist if one or more pills have been missed to learn about what all precautions are to be taken in such an instance, and how to make sure unexpected pregnancies do not happen.

CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS DAMAGE FERTILITY: There is no evidence that contraceptive pills have an adverse impact on fertility. They only prevent ovulation and pregnancies.

BIRTH CONTROL PILLS CAN BE STARTED WITHOUT ANY PRIOR EVALUATION OR RISK ASSESSMENT: Birth control pills are generally safe, but some people who have certain risk factors like having a genetic tendency for blood clot formation, or those who are obese or who smoke might not be suitable candidates for contraceptive pill use. Hence, one must always consult a doctor and get a risk evaluation before starting Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCP). Having said that, lots of confusion information is available on the internet, it tends to create fear among women. Here is what you can do to debunk these doubts.

  • Getting the right information about contraceptives is crucial. The best way to get the correct information is through a medical resource coming from government websites, from international health organizations or from a hospital website.
  • Discuss your concerns with your Ob-Gyn about the use of any contraceptive method. Not every method suits everyone, and making an informed choice helps in finding the best fit for you and your partner.
  • Many of the myths associated with the birth control pill do not apply to every person. Each one of us is different, and only you and your doctor can determine whether the pill (and which pill) is right for you. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have and discuss your concerns.

(Dr Neha Bothara is Consultant Gynecologist & Obstetrician, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi).

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