When it comes to choosing the right form of birth control, it seems like there are endless possibilities to choose from: IUDs, NuvaRing, patches, Depo shots, condoms, pills, etc. How do you choose what form of birth control is right for you? The best way to approach birth control is by first talking with your doctor or gynecologist. They’ll ask you a series of questions related to your periods, sexual activity, and so on. There are a lot of positives and negatives that come with using birth control. There are also a lot of myths and common misconceptions.
One of the most common misconceptions surrounding birth control is that if you are on the pill or some other form of birth control, condoms are not necessary when having sex. Definitely NOT a good idea. Unless you are absolutely sure you are ready to start a family with the person you are currently with and know their medical history, having unprotected sex is never a good idea. While the majority of birth control is 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancies, there is always that 1% and the risk of STDs or STIs with unprotected sex.
Myth 1: Birth control makes you gain weight
The biggest myth surrounding birth control is that it can make you gain weight. While some forms of birth control can make you gain weight, it’s not necessarily true for all of them. If you have concerns about gaining weight, take to your OBGYN or doctor to determine another alternative.
Myth 2: If you are on the pill, you have to take it at the same time every day
Taking your pill at a certain time each day has no bearing on its effectiveness; however, some pills such as the mini pill require it to be taken the same time each day. But if you have trouble remembering to take your pill or are on a very low-dose form, sometimes taking it at the same time each day or setting an alarm is the best way to go.
Myth 3: Keeping condoms in your wallet for long periods of time doesn’t make them less effective
WRONG! According to familypact.org, the longer you keep condoms in your wallets, the more susceptible they are to damage and heat which can ruin them and cause them to break. Men (and ladies), change your condoms AT LEAST once a month.
Myth 4: You should take a break from using birth control pills
As someone who has taken the pill for little over 10 years now (and not afraid to get a little personal), I’ll admit this thought has often crossed my mind. I started my period when I was 10. I’m 24 now. I’ve been on the pill since I was in middle school, and there are times I’ve forgotten to take it or been too lazy to get up and take it. Missing one doesn’t necessarily mess with your cycle, but if you start missing more than one, there is definitely a difference.
You can take the pill for as long as you like as long as the one you are taking or using is to your liking. If it starts creating issues or you decide you want to take a break, be sure to discuss it with your OBGYN first!
Myth 5: Birth control increases your risk for breast cancer
While this is not exactly a myth nor has it been proven, taking birth control for long periods of time can INCREASE your risk for certain cancers. Breast cancer and cervical cancer are the most common, especially if you are on the pill for 5-10 years or longer. However, taking the pill can also DECREASE your risk for certain cancers such as colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer.
If you have concerns about cancer or if any of these types of cancer run in your family, definitely talk with your doctor and OBGYN.
Bottom line: Birth control, in whatever form you choose, has its ups and downs. Talking to your doctor is the best way to determine which method is right for you. What might be right for your friend or sister or cousin isn’t always best for you. Staying informed and getting the right information is another way to determine what birth control will work best. Sometimes myths are just myths and just because one person had a bad reaction or a bad experience doesn’t mean the same thing will happen to you!