“Oh, I would NEVER drive a Honda. My friend’s sister drove a Honda and the brakes didn’t work well and she rear-ended a car on the freeway.”
“I would NEVER drink coffee. My mom drank coffee and she had a reaction and got really wired and couldn’t sleep.”
These may sound like ridiculous generalizations, but they are not that different from what health care providers hear every day as reasons women decide not to use birth control. This can have big consequences; in the United States, 45% of all pregnancies are unintended (the rate is 75% in 15-19 year olds). This comes with estimated $4-12 billion in medical costs per year.
Sometimes, decisions about birth control are made based on myths and misinformation. I’d like to address a few of the most common things we hear that prevent some women from taking control of their reproductive health and fertility.
Myth #1 – Birth control causes infertility.
False. After stopping oral contraceptives, Nuva Ring, the Depo Provera injection or the Nexplanon implant, it can take a few months to get back to regular cycles, but they do not damage the ovaries or keep them from popping out eggs as they were before. Further, IUDs don’t cause scarring in the uterus and your fertility returns immediately when removed.
Myth #2 – I can’t afford birth control.
Birth control is cheap. Real cheap. Thanks to the Reproductive Health Quality Act that went into effect in January 2019, coverage of birth control is mandatory in Oregon. That means those formerly expensive long-acting options like Nexplanon, Mirena and Paragard now often require just a co-pay. Further, if you don’t have any insurance coverage, most pharmacies carry birth control pills for less than $10/month. And here in Oregon, pharmacists can even prescribe birth control pills without a visit to your OB/GYN. If you are prescribed birth control by a health care provider and have a larger-than-expected cost when you go to pick it up at the pharmacy, be sure to ask whether there is another brand or a generic option available.
Myth #3 – It is healthier to have a period every month.
While not having regular periods prior to menopause should prompt a visit with your provider to investigate, not having periods monthly due to hormonal birth control suppressing the growth of the uterine lining is quite safe. It lowers the risk of uterine cancer. Further, with less blood loss, your hemoglobin and iron stores will likely be higher, which could provide a little boost of energy! Also, birth control will not “mess” with your hormones as you move through your 40s closer to menopause. If anything, they can actually stabilize the fluctuations that may be occurring as your ovaries are slowing down.
Myth #4 – An IUD will move through my uterus and into my body requiring surgery.
Yes, this can be a possible complication. However, it happens far less than it may seem from browsing the internet. The incidence of IUDs perforating the uterus is about 1 in 1,000 and can often be treated without long-term effects. Satisfaction surveys prove that women who have IUDs (specifically the Mirena IUD) are the happiest with their choice compared to women using something else.
Myth #5 – Teens shouldn’t be on birth control because it leads to promiscuity.
This has been shown not to be the case. Per the CDC, as the birth rate is declining and birth control rates are climbing, fewer teens are having intercourse. More teens are waiting even as birth control has become more available. Also, long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) is safe and effective for teens – including the IUD. The Nexplanon implant and Depo Provera injection don’t even require a pelvic exam.
The bottom line is that birth control has come a long way in the US. There are lots of great options out there. And while no single birth control is right for everyone, chances are there’s one that’s just right for you—one that fits your lifestyle and will allow you to decide when (and if) you want to become pregnant.
Ready to revisit your birth control? Make an appointment >