Birth Control Myths

When it comes to birth control, there are a lot of myths out there. And those myths might leave you with a lot of questions.

Click on the myths below to get the facts.

Side Effects

Birth control will make me gain weight.

Everyone is different. Birth control can have different side effects on different women. The truth is researchers have found no direct link between using hormonal birth control and gaining weight. Young women probably know at least one friend who swears birth control made her gain weight. Many women start birth control during a time when their body is going through other changes, so it can be easy to blame those changes on birth control. If you’re still concerned about gaining weight on hormonal birth control, talk to your health care provider. One option might be non-hormonal birth control, such as the copper IUD.

I heard the implant causes you to gain a bunch of weight.

Long-acting or low maintenance methods such as the implant or hormonal IUDs contain progestins, which do not cause weight gain. Many women begin using birth control methods when they are growing and their body is changing and naturally gaining weight. Eating healthy and getting regular exercise can help keep your body healthy and happy.

The shot will make me gain a bunch of weight.

The Shot (Depo Provera) can cause increased appetite, which can lead to weight gain. Three out of 4 women gained on average 1.4 pounds in the first year while on Depo. Remember: eating healthy and getting regular exercise keeps your body healthy and happy.

Depo (the shot) will make my hair fall out.

Maybe. Depo-Provera (aka the shot)’s manufacturer reports 1 to 5 percent of women who receive injections experience hair loss or no hair growth. A Cornell University study found 10 percent of those surveyed experienced some hair loss while using Depo. A drug’s side effects can’t be predicted on an individual basis. Realistically, a woman is not going to go bald or have noticeably thinner hair on the shot. If you do experience Depo-related hair loss, your hair will grow back when you discontinue using this birth control method. If you’re concerned about this potential side effect, talk to your health care provider and see if there is another method that is right for you.

Birth control will imbalance my hormones and make me "crazy."

The hormones found in birth control are similar to a woman’s natural hormones. Stress has been found to have a greater effect on your hormones than birth control. If you’re concerned about the ways birth control might affect your hormones, talk to your health care provider about low-dose hormonal birth control or even non-hormonal birth control options, including the copper IUD.

Birth control pills cause cancer.

There is no evidence linking birth control pills to cancer. Some birth control options, including the patch, ring and IUD, are actually shown to reduce the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer.

Birth control will affect my ability to have children in the future.

Research shows long-term (and even short term) birth control methods do not affect your future fertility. That’s why women who use the pill regularly but accidentally forget to take it for a few days can get pregnant that month. Women who have an IUD and have it removed can then get pregnant. All birth control methods available at BC4Teens are completely reversible. They will not prevent your ability to have children in the future.  Fertility varies from person to person. Birth control doesn’t affect your ability to have babies when you’re ready for them, but untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can. That’s why doubling up (using condoms with your primary birth control method) is so important to prevent STIs and pregnancy.

IUDs can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

IUDs do not cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID is rare. It only occurs in 1 percent of women who have an IUD. What causes PID? STIs. If you have an undiagnosed STI when you get your IUD, there can be an increased risk of an STI developing into PID during the first 20 days. After 20 days, the risk is the same for those with an IUD and those without.

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Birth Control Methods

No one uses birth control methods other than the pill and condoms.

Although birth control pills paired with condoms serve as an effective protection method for many young women, low-maintenance contraception usage - intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the implant - is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of low-maintenance birth control, like IUDs and implants, has more than quadrupled from 2002 to 2011-2013. Why are the implant and IUDs becoming so popular? You don’t have to do anything to make them work perfectly every time, they last for years and they are completely reversible. There is no worrying about taking a pill every day or getting a shot every three months. These low maintenance methods last for years at a time and are more than 99% effective. BC4Teens offers IUDs and implants – and our experts will discuss what option might be best with you.

I hear the ring falls out.

Once inserted, the ring will stay in place until you take it out. It should not fall out during activity or while going to the bathroom.

The patch can fall off.

The patch is very sticky and once placed should stay put until you remove it. It should not fall off during bathing or activity.

I hear IUDs can tear through the lining of your uterus.

It’s possible, but it’s not likely and not very common. In fact, about 1 in every 1,000 IUDs causes perforation of the uterus. Most perforations occur at the time of the insertion and do not cause lasting harm.

I hear IUDs can get lost in your uterus.

It’s possible, but it’s not likely. Occasionally, an IUD can work its way down through the cervix (it’s called expulsion.) It’s annoying, but it’s usually not dangerous. IUD expulsion occurs in 2-10 percent of users. The type of IUD and age of the user, among other factors, affect expulsion rates. If you are concerned that your IUD has been expulsed or partially expulsed, use back-up protection like a condom and contact your health care provider.

You can only get IUDs if you've already had a kid.

IUDs are safe for women with and without children alike. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends low maintenance birth control methods (like IUDs) as great birth control options for young women since they’re super effective, can last up to 10 years (depending on what kind you get) and are fully reversible.

The implant hurts.

The numbing solution you’ll receive before the implant is inserted will probably pinch more than the implant insertion itself. Your arm might be sore and bruised for a couple days. If the soreness persists after the first week of insertion, talk to your health care provider.

I want the implant but I'm afraid everyone will be able to see it.

As with all low maintenance birth control, no one has to know it’s there but you. You’ll be able to feel the implant if you press on your arm near the spot where it was inserted. If others are watching your arm while you’re pressing it, they might see it too. As long as you’re not drawing attention to it, no one will know it’s there.

I don't have to take birth control because they make male shots/male pills now.

Condoms and vasectomies remain the only two birth control options for men today. Although researchers are studying a number of male birth control options, nothing is on the market just yet. So the next time you hear guys talking about being on the male birth control pill or the male birth control shot, know it’s not true.

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How Well It Works

I can’t remember to take something every day, so there’s not a birth control for me.

We get it. Your life is busy. And yes, with birth control pills, you have to take them every day for true effectiveness. But they aren’t your only birth control option. If you’re struggling to remember your pills, there are lots of other birth control options out there: such as the shot, the patch, the ring and low-maintenance birth control methods: IUDs/the implant. Low maintenance birth control methods are just that: low maintenance! You don’t even have to think about them! Once they are in place, they’re guaranteed to work: no matter how busy your hectic schedule becomes. And they are completely reversible. So once they are removed by a health care provider, they no longer work: and you could get pregnant.

The pill protects me from sexually transmitted infections.

The pill does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs.) The only birth control methods available that protect against STIs are the male and/or female condom; however, they are not the most effective method at protecting against pregnancy. So it’s important to use dual protection (condoms + another form of birth control) to prevent STIs and pregnancy every time.

If I miss three pills in a row, I can just take three in a day to prevent pregnancy.

Any time you forget to take a pill, you must use a back-up method, like the condom. Every time you forget to take a birth control pill, you increase the chance of pregnancy. If you constantly forget to take your pills, talk to your health care provider about low-maintenance birth control options, such as the implant or an IUD.

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Sex & Birth Control

There are no benefits to birth control if you're not sexually active.

Many young women who are not sexually active choose to use birth control for a variety of reasons — some not even related to pregnancy prevention. Reasons may be related to heavy menstrual bleeding, cramping or acne. If you’re considering sexual activity or have been sexually active in the past, being on birth control is the smart decision. Talk to your parents and provider about what method is right for you.

I don't need birth control because my partner pulls out.

Like all birth control methods, the pull out (or withdrawal) method is most effective when you use it correctly every time. Of every 100 women, 27 will become pregnant each year. That’s about a 27 percent failure rate. Plus, it’s important to remember that sperm can leak out during sex before ejaculation. So even if he pulls out, you can still get pregnant, and if you are not using a condom, you can get an STI. Only 100 percent complete abstinence can protect you against STIs and pregnancy 100 percent of the time. If you’re going to have sex, use dual protection (birth control + a condom.) It’s the only way to protect against STIs and pregnancy every time.

I've had unprotected sex and didn't get pregnant, so I don't need birth control. 

Having sex without birth control doesn’t mean you can never get pregnant. It just means you got lucky. Do you really want to keep testing your luck? Whether it’s a woman’s first time or hundredth time having sex: any time a man and woman have unprotected sex, she can get pregnant.

I only have sex during or right after my period so I can't get pregnant.

Any time you have unprotected sex, there’s a chance you’ll get pregnant. Most women ovulate approximately 14 days after the start of their last period, but many women have unpredictable ovulation. That means it’s possible to get pregnant any time during your cycle. Plus: Sperm can stay alive for several days after sex. Don’t take a chance. Use birth control + a condom every time, the whole time.

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