We bust five of the most common birth control myths.
The Pill makes you gain weight.
Studies have shown that weight gain associated with hormonal contraceptives is largely linked to water retention and not extra fat, says Johannesburg-based obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Tom Mokaya. This issue usually resolves within a few months as the body adjusts. If you’re concerned about gaining weight, speak to your doctor, as some pills carry higher risks than others.
Hormonal contraceptives cause depression and anxiety.
Synthetic hormones may cause mild hormonal imbalances in the body. In some cases, this may cause depression and anxiety due to the effect on other “feel-good” hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, explains Dr Mokaya. The good news is, this doesn’t happen to everyone and is mainly a concern for those who already have a predisposition to mood imbalances. If you have a history of depression and anxiety, chat to your doctor about safer alternatives, he adds.
You can’t fall pregnant while breastfeeding.
This isn’t true, says Dr Mokaya. It is possible to fall pregnant a few weeks after having a baby, whether you’re breastfeeding or not. Exclusive breastfeeding, however, can suppress the hormones from the pituitary gland that cause you to ovulate. So, while there’s certainly a dip in your fertility at this time, it’s not a foolproof contraceptive.
If you skip the Pill for a few days, you can still have unprotected sex.
Not true, says Dr Mark van der Griendt, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Netcare Parklane Hospital in Johannesburg. If you’re not planning on falling pregnant, it’s important not to skip the Pill for more than a day, he says. Missing the Pill for a day or two won’t produce an immediate 0% effect rate, but it will put you at a greater risk of falling pregnant. This also depends on how sensitive your body is. He adds that taking the Pill at the same time every day doesn’t increase its rate of effectiveness. This is only true if you’re taking the minipill (progesterone only).
The body needs a break from birth control.
The only time you’ll want to stop using birth control is if you want to have a baby. Other than that, it’s safe to stay on it for as long as you like, providing there are no contraindications that may affect you, says Dr van der Griendt.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.