Confused about contraception? Think diaphragms can get lost inside you? We set the record straight about those common birth control myths.
MYTH: Going on the Pill will make you gain weight
Not according to Dr Farrell, who says that on the contrary, some pills result in weight loss rather than weight gain. “Psychosomatically, some people imagine they’re hungrier on the Pill, so they eat more, which explains why they put on weight.”
MYTH: Suppressing your period is bad for your body
Dr Farrell says there is absolutely no medical evidence to suggest that there is anything detrimental about falsely stopping your period, and that if you want to take the Pill continuously to avoid having periods altogether, it’s perfectly safe. “People should take the Pill to suit their lifestyle,” Dr Farrell says.
MYTH: There’s no need for birth control when you’re breastfeeding
Statistically, you still have a five per cent chance of getting pregnant while you’re breastfeeding exclusively. If you’re combining bottle and breast, your chances of getting pregnant increase. However, taking certain hormonal contraceptives may restrict your milk supply, according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, so choose the mini pill or an IUD (e.g. Mirena) when breastfeeding.
MYTH: Antibiotics stop your birth control from working
Australia’s NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says rhe only antibiotics known to affect how well some hormonal contraceptives work are Rifadin and Rimycin, used to treat serious bacterial infections such as tuberculosis. She advises extra contraceptive precautions while taking them and for a few days after finishing the course.
MYTH: Getting your tubes tied is a serious and irreversible operation
“Reversal after sterilisation isn’t 100 per cent guaranteed, so we do encourage people to think of it as irreversible,” advises Dr Farrell. While having your tubes tied is a fairly straightforward day surgery procedure, a reversal is more complicated and requires specialist surgery to unblock them, she warns.
MYTH: Diaphragms can get lost inside you
Dr Farrell dismisses this rumour as totally false, on the grounds that there is nowhere for it to go! “They can get dislodged and stop working, but experienced users soon get to feel whether it’s covering their uterus or not.” Her advice? “Use a spermicide to give added protection.”
MYTH: It will take longer to get pregnant if you’ve been on the Pill a long time
According to experts at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, some practitioners suggest allowing your body to have three normal menstrual cycles after discontinuing the Pill. There is zero evidence to suggest that taking birth control suppresses fertility.
MYTH: The pill increases your risk of breast cancer
Although there is a slightly increased risk of getting breast cancer if you are on the Pill, Dr Farrell says it’s incredibly low and more likely in women aged over 45. “For women who have a history of breast lumps or women in their 40s, it’s best to go and see your GP to find out if you’d be better changing to a low-oestrogen pill or coming off it altogether,” she explains.
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