When it comes to birth control, misconceptions abound. We’re setting the record straight about everything from gaining weight on the pill to using birth control while breastfeeding.
Myth: Your body needs a break from the pill every once in a while.
Fact: Unless you’re trying to get pregnant, there’s no need to stop taking birth control for any length of time. The only exception is the Depo-Provera shot, which has been linked to bone mineral loss and should only be used for two continuous years.
Myth: Being on the pill for a long time will make it more difficult to get pregnant later on.
Fact: It is totally possible to get pregnant as soon as you stop taking the pill. There’s a commonly held belief that it takes a while for the hormones to get out of your system, making it difficult to conceive until then. But for many couples, the months of trying that they plan for are simply never needed — that’s also why it’s possible to get pregnant after missing just a few doses.
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Myth: Birth control makes you gain weight.
Fact: While it’s true that some women may experience a little extra water retention when they start taking the pill, countless studies have shown that today’s birth control pills do not cause weight gain. Chances are this myth is based on outdated information — the pills of the 1960s had much higher hormone levels, which could have caused increased appetite and water retention in some women.
Myth: The IUD is only for women who’ve already had children.
Fact: The intrauterine device used to be recommended primarily to women who had already given birth, since their expanded cervix and uterus make implantation more comfortable. Today, the IUD is available for moms and non-moms alike — and at 99 percent effective, it’s a great alternative to taking a daily pill.
Myth: If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t need to worry about birth control.
Fact: While breastfeeding can affect your hormones and make you a bit less fertile, it is certainly not a foolproof way of preventing pregnancy. If you’re concerned about taking a hormonal contraceptive while breastfeeding, use condoms instead.
Myth: Birth control causes cancer.
Fact: The short answer: It’s complicated. While oral contraceptives are believed to slightly increase your chances of getting breast and cervical cancer, they also lower your risk of endometrial, colon and ovarian cancer. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your family history and the risks and benefits associated with each form of birth control.