“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 healthcare providers hear every day as reasons for not using birth control. This can create big consequences; in the United States, 45% of all pregnancies are unintended (the rate is 75% in 15 to 19-year-olds). This comes with an estimated $4-12 billion in medical costs per year.
Sometimes, decisions about birth control are made based on myths and misinformation. And these can prevent people from taking control of their reproductive health and fertility.
Because we fully believe that accurate healthcare information empowers individuals to make the right decisions for their lives and their bodies, here is the important truth behind five common myths about birth control.
Myth #1 – Birth control causes infertility.
Fact: Birth control does not cause infertility.
After stopping oral contraceptives, Nuva Ring, the Depo Provera injection or the Nexplanon implant (any form of hormonal birth control), it can take a few months to get back to regular menstrual cycles. Periods may be early, late, shorter, longer, lighter, heavier, etc. But birth control does not damage the ovaries or keep them from releasing eggs as they did before any birth control method was put in place. Further, IUDs don’t cause scarring in the uterus and fertility returns immediately when removed.
Non-hormonal birth control, such as condoms or the non-hormonal IUD, will not affect the menstrual cycle.
Myth #2 – It is healthier to have a period every month than to use birth control.
Fact: Not having periods monthly due to hormonal birth control suppressing the growth of the uterine lining is safe.
Not having regular periods prior to menopause should prompt a visit with your provider to investigate. But monthly periods becoming lighter or stopping altogether because of the use of hormonal birth control is a common occurrence that doesn’t pose long-term health risks.
There are actually some benefits of birth control use, like lowering 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, the hormones in birth control can actually stabilize the fluctuations that may occur as your ovaries are slowing down.
Myth #3 – An IUD will move through my uterus and into my body requiring surgery.
Fact: It is rare for an IUD to slip out of place and into your uterus.
Yes, this can be a possible complication. But the incidence of IUDs perforating the uterus is about 1 in 1,000 and can often be treated without long-term effects even if it does happen.
Satisfaction surveys prove that people who have IUDs (specifically the Mirena IUD) are the happiest with their choice compared to other choices.
Myth #4 – Birth control is expensive.
Fact: Birth control is cheap and usually free with most health insurance or available under government programs.
Thanks to the Reproductive Health Quality Act that went into effect in January 2019, birth control coverage 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. This means you do not always need a prescription for birth control and may be able to get it over the counter.
If you are prescribed birth control by a healthcare 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 #5 – Teens shouldn’t be on birth control because it leads to promiscuity.
Fact: No evidence supports that making contraception available to teenagers promotes sexual activity.
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.
It’s also important to stress the safety of birth control for teens. Long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) is safe and effective for teens— including the IUD, which is a recommended form of contraception for teens. 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 >