According to the CDC, 99 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active use some form of birth control. This statistic is rather surprising when you factor in how many unplanned pregnancies occur every year. However, some of those unplanned pregnancies involve women who do use birth control. This is because not all birth control is as effective as others, and abstinence is the only sure fire way to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Condoms can break, pills can be skipped, and medications can interfere. Different forms of birth control have been around for as long as we can remember, and since they have been around, there have also been a number of myths, facts, rumors, and opinions about the different types of birth control. There are many misconceptions about what type of birth control is the safest and which one is most effective. There are also questions about the dangers of using birth control for long periods of time. It is time to separate fact from fiction and get down to the truth about birth control. The below 15 things are facts about birth control that women probably didn’t know but definitely should.
15 The pill can lower your drive
Most birth control pills available to women contain estrogen and progestin. While the estrogen levels stay the same throughout every pill, levels of progestin change from pill to pill. The levels of progestin are what is most likely causing a woman to experience a lower sex drive. Women can try switching to a different brand of birth control pill to see if their sex drive improves, but it might not work. The other option is to switch to a different type of birth control method that doesn’t have hormones in it, or very low amounts of hormones.
14 Drospirenone is safe in pills
Over the years, people have said that birth control pills are dangerous, and certain brands have even been named to be the most dangerous. However, we are finding out now that the risks are the same throughout any type of birth control pill, and those risks are low. The media said in 2013 that Yasmin and Yaz, which contain drospirenone, had been linked to higher risks of blood clots in women who took the pills. Dropirenone is a synthetic progestin, but studies have now shown that the dropirenone isn’t any less safe than birth control pills without dropirenone.
13 Taking the birth control pill in your 40s might be a good idea
Women in their 40s who have not yet started menopause, but are experiencing premenopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and irregular bleeding, could benefit from taking the pill. The pill can be taken right up until menopause actually begins. However, not all doctors will prescribe the pill to premenopausal women, and not all women should take the pill. Women who have high blood pressure, smoke, or have badly controlled diabetes should not get on the pill. Doctors will also want to make sure that the symptoms women are experiencing are indeed from premenopause, and not from something more serious like polyps, fibroids, or hypothyroidism.
12 The World Health Organization lists the pill as carcinogenic
Studies show that birth control pills are linked to an increase risk of liver, breast, and cervical cancer in women. However, it has also been linked to lower the risks of other cancers such as endometrial and ovarian. According to Dr. Melissa Mirosh, who is an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan in the Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Department, there is no evidence that the pill is definitely linked to causing cancer, and the rate of it causing breast cancer is very small. Taking the pill for less than three years will not increase your risk of cancer, and discontinued use of the pill for ten years will lower your risk back down to that of everyone else.
11 Antibiotics don’t have an effect on the pill
People often believe that an antibiotic will prevent the pill from working and that women should double up on contraceptives when on an antibiotic. However, this is just a myth for the most part. The only antibiotics that can affect the pill are very rare and were used a long time ago. Common antibiotics, such as penicillin, do not have an effect on antibiotics. Rifampin might be one of the antibiotics that can affect the pill’s effectiveness, but other than that, women should be safe. This was proven by a Harvard study in which 43,000 women were studied, and it showed there was no difference in effectiveness of birth control.
10 Nearly half of all unplanned pregnancies are from careless contraception use
While many unplanned pregnancies are caused from people having unprotected sex, a great deal of unplanned pregnancies occur because the man or woman, or both, are careless when it comes to safe sex. An example of this is when a guy doesn’t put a condom on until he is close to climaxing. Another example is when women skip more than one pill in a row, leaving them unprotected. Skipping a pill now and then, even if they aren’t in a row, also leaves women at risk. If the missed pill is not made up for by taking two pills at once within 24 hours, an egg could be released.
9 Repetitive use of Plan B isn’t harmful
All types of Plan B birth control pills have their side effects, including spotting and nausea. Because of these side effects, women sometimes think that using Plan B too often could cause bodily harm. Medical Director at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Family Planning Clinic, Dr. Westhoff, says that it is perfectly safe to take Plan B repetitively. However, Plan B birth control options are for emergency situations. If a woman finds herself relying on Plan B on a regular basis or even a couple times a month, she should consider all other birth control options.
8 The pill doesn’t make you fat
Women have believed for years that the pill is the reason for their weight gain. Other women have avoided taking the pill in fear that they would gain weight. However, weight gain is no longer an issue with the birth control pill. In the past, it was normal for women to gain anywhere from five to ten pounds while taking the pill because the pills contained hormones that induced bloating. Today’s pills, however, have lower doses and are not the cause of weight gain. Women who gain weight while on the pill today are gaining it for other reasons and would have gained it even if they weren’t on the pill.
7 A male version of the pill is a real possibility
Researchers in Israel are developing a birth control pill for men that would only have to be taken four times a year, which is good, because it's hard to believe most men would be responsible enough to take a pill every day, considering a lot of women aren’t good with that responsibility. The male pill is in the testing stages and is supposed to kill sperm before it reaches an egg. The male version of the birth control won’t be available for quite some time, considering human trials haven’t even started yet. Even though it will be a long time before the pill is available, it is a huge step in the right direction for birth control.
6 IUDs are safe
IUDs or the intrauterine device is a completely safe form of birth control for women, and even teenagers, to use. A study was done in 2013 to see if IUDs were a safe option for teenage girls as well. Researchers looked at the medical records of teenagers, and concluded that young women did not have more complications than older women. Complications include, failure to work properly and painful periods. Young women were also not more likely to have the device removed early, which further proved that they were not experiencing more complications than older women.
5 Dangers of hormonal implants
Obese or overweight women who use hormonal implants may be at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Hormonal implants are long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) that contain progestin and include the Implanon implant and horomonal IUDs. A study at a medical school at the University of Southern California showed obese women who used the Implanon implant had insulin sensitivity and higher levels of blood-glucose compared to women who used non-hormonal methods. Women who used hormonal IUDs were also studied and, while their risks were much lower, they also were more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
4 It might be picking the men that you date
Researchers have found that women on the birth control pill choose masculine men over feminine or sensitive men. The masculine men possess distinct physical characteristics that women on the pill are attracted to, compared to feminine men, who might not have those rugged characteristics. This is potentially bad for women, because they aren't interested in the sensitive men who would make good husbands or boyfriends due to their ability to communicate and express feelings. Instead, women are attracted to the macho men who don't talk about their feelings and are probably not boyfriend material.
3 IUDs are most effective
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, IUDs are twenty times better at preventing unplanned pregnancies than the patch, pill, or ring. This is because the device eliminates human error. Unlike the pill, women don’t have to remember to take it on a daily basis. They are also the most effective long-acting option. In addition, when a woman wants to get pregnant, she is more likely to get pregnant right away after removing the IUD as opposed to the time it takes for women to get pregnant once they stop taking the pill or using other forms of birth control.
2 The other medicines you take matter
While it may be a myth that antibiotics lessen the effectiveness of the pill, certain medications do not mix well with others, which is why doctors ask you what other medications you are currently taking before prescribing anything. Certain antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-fungal medications, and St. John’s wort and other natural supplements should not be combined with birth control. These types of medications lessen the effectiveness of birth control pills that contain estrogen. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor about any medication you are taking and consulting with them before changing your medications or supplements.
1 It depletes women's vitamin B levels
Vitamin B is vital for our overall health and happiness. It boosts memory, decreases stress, and decreases heart disease. However, the pill depletes this important vitamin, so our memory isn't as good as it could be, our stress might be more, and we might be at a higher risk for heart disease while taking the pill. Women who take the pill have an increased need for vitamin B and folic acid in their bodies. Women who take the pill should take a supplement to ensure they are getting the amount of vitamin B they need.