5 Myths About Birth Control

Image via nateOne/Flickr
Image via nateOne/Flickr

According to the Guttmacher Institute, former research arm of Planned Parenthood, the majority of American women in the childbearing years use some version of contraceptives.

And the most popular form of contraception? 

By far, it's the pill. 

But how much do you really know about birth control and the pill? Let's take a look at some of the facts (and myths!) about birth control. 

Image via lookcatalog/Flickr
Image via lookcatalog/Flickr

Myth #1: You don't need birth control when you're breastfeeding. By far, this is the most important fact that I stress to my patients when I send them home after having a baby. So many women, myself included, might think that they are “safe” from getting pregnant when they are breastfeeding. The truth is, breastfeeding can delay your cycle coming back, but–and this is the big but–you can still ovulate without knowing it. Exclusive breastfeeding can help you space out pregnancies, no doubt about it, but if you are trying to rely exclusively on breastfeeding alone to avoid pregnancy, know that you would have to never miss a feeding and breastfeed on a regular, rigid schedule – which is almost impossible. 

Image via blmurch/Flickr
Image via blmurch/Flickr

Myth #2: Birth control can make you gain weight. Ok, this one is a semi-myth. The truth is, birth control pills work by mimicking pregnancy in a woman's body. By introducing the same hormones that a woman's body produces when she is pregnant, the pills cause her body will stop ovulating. So while birth control by itself may not necessarily make you gain weight, the synthetic version of progesterone in the pill can cause an appetite increase in women, much like they would experience in pregnancy. However, there are a lot of different hormone levels that are available and a low enough level of the hormones may not affect women in the weight gain department, but still be effective in stopping ovulation. 

Image via
Image via nateOne/Flickr

Myth #3: Birth control might mess up your chances of getting pregnant later. For the most part, this one simply isn't true. Although different forms of birth control might have different consequences (for instance, shots like Depo may stay in the system longer and anything implanted in the uterus has the potential for causing long-term infertility), for the most part, the hormones from the pill don't stick around after a woman stops taking the birth control. One of my co-workers is pregnant with a baby she conceived only weeks after going off a long-term birth control that she had been on – for five years!

Image via Gnarls Monkey/Flickr
Image via Gnarls Monkey/Flickr

Myth #4: Birth control won't affect your breast milk. The truth is, some types of hormonal form of birth control have been shown to reduce a woman's breast milk supply. Again, this depends on the type of birth control used and the level of progesterin in the pill, as well as the timing. (Some experts believe delaying starting the pill until after breastfeeding has been well established will help.)

Image via M.Markus/Flickr
Image via M.Markus/Flickr

Myth #5: Birth control is totally safe. In reality, hormonal birth control has only been around for a little over 30 years – with early forms causing tons of damage, including birth defects and permanent infertility. Although the levels of hormones have changed, the formulas for birth control have stayed the same and it will be a long time before long-term consequences can be accurately assessed. Furthermore, the National Cancer Institute does cite that birth control has been associated with an increased risk of breast, liver, and cervical cancers, although more research is needed before a true cause-and-effect relationship can be determined.

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5 Myths About Birth Control

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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2 comments

  1. Profile photo of Timothy Timothy says:

    we don’t use it. unless i pull out

  2. Profile photo of Nat Nat says:

    It’s not so much about a rigid schedule as breast feeding on demand as much as baby wants too and never offering a substitute like a pacifier or water or formula or rice cereal. I exclusively breast feed on demand for the first year and only get my period back when i start offering food. there is also some genetics possibly involved. Oh and baby wearing has shown to help delay if used with exclusive breast feeding.

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