10 Birth Control “Facts” That Are Actually Nonsense

With so much info coming to us from so many (biased) sources, it’s difficult to know what’s accurate and what isn’t, especially when it comes to birth control. You may think you understand everything you need to about not getting pregnant, but as it turns out, there’s a lot of BS out there you need to stop believing.

Birth control makes you fat. This is not a hard and fast rule for every single woman who uses birth control. Some women experience weight gain with certain methods, but there are plenty of ways to circumvent that with diet and exercise. One study found that women using the Depo Provera shot gained at average of 11 pounds over 3 years, but everyone is different, so you should talk to your doctor to find the right birth control method for you.

You need to take the pill at the exact same time every day. From a routine stand point, it’s not a bad idea to take your pill around the same time every day. That way you’re less likely to forget. But the claim that your birth control will be less effective if you don’t take it at 4:05pm sharp every single day is exaggerated. The only exception is if you’re on a progestin-only minipill, which is rare.

Using birth control for a long time can make it harder to get pregnant later. There’s no research that confirms being on a hormonal birth control for any length of time actually hurts your fertility. It may take your body a little while to adjust once you stop taking the pill or getting your shot, but as long as you’re healthy otherwise, getting pregnant shouldn’t be a problem. Fertility is a complicated issue though, so if you are having trouble there could be any number of factors at play.

IUDs are only for people who’ve already had kids. Quite the opposite — IUDs are an option for almost everyone. The American Academy of Pediatrics has even gone so far as to suggest them for teenagers since they’re 99 percent effective. Copper IUDs are also an excellent option for people who want to avoid using a hormonal birth control.

Pulling out is just as effective as the pill. Well, not quite. The failure rate is 4 percent if you and your guy are really good at it, but since we’re all human, the failure rate is more like 27 percent. If you really don’t want to get pregnant, those odds aren’t exactly ideal. Not to mention pulling out doesn’t protect you from STIs.

You can’t get pregnant if you’re breastfeeding. While breastfeeding exclusively can suppress the hormone from the pituitary gland that makes you ovulate, it’s not 100 percent fool-proof. Getting pregnant might be less likely, but it’s still possible.

Sex positions affect your chance of getting pregnant. You probably haven’t actually believed this since you were in high school, but there are still people who think if the woman is on top, gravity will make sure she doesn’t get pregnant. Unfortunately, there still plenty of sperm that will still make its way to where it needs to go. Too bad, though — that would just be one more fantastic reason to be on top.

You should take breaks from birth control. You might think your body needs a break from all the hormones that come from certain birth control methods. But the pill is giving you enough estrogen and progestin to level out your hormone levels instead of the extreme ups and downs you experience when you aren’t on birth control. Also, each pill only gives you a days worth of hormones, so there’s no need to worry that hormones are building up in your body. For many women, taking birth control from puberty until menopause is perfectly fine.

Birth control causes cancer. Actually, the birth control pill cuts your risk of ovarian cancer in half after five years of use. Some research suggests that a pill with a higher dose of estrogen can raise your risk of breast cancer slightly, but more pills these days are low dose enough to barely make a difference. Averaging it all out, birth control is more likely to reduce your risk of cancer than raise it.

You must be infertile if you had unprotected sex and didn’t get pregnant. Horror stories about teenagers who get pregnant their first time having sex probably scared us all into thinking it’s easier to get pregnant than it really is. There are only about six days out of every month that getting pregnant is likely to happen. The uncertainty comes because everyone’s cycle is different, and if yours is inconsistent, you have no way of knowing for sure exactly when you’re ovulating.

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