Chances are if you’re having sex – you might know a thing or two about contraception. And when it comes contraception, the oral pill remains most popular amongst Aussie women. So it’s worth stopping and asking ourselves how much we actually know about it and it’s potential side effects.
But wait a sec, are they really side effects? Or just rumours that were born in high school bathrooms decades ago? It’s time to inform yoself!
Family Planning NSW spokeswoman Dr Deb Bateson clears up the five most common misconceptions about the contraceptive pill once and for all…
1.) You need to take the sugar pill.
The only reason you take the sugar pill in your blister pack is to encourage you to maintain a routine. In fact, in the UK there are contraceptive pill packets without the sugar pill all together (mind blown.) The sugar pill is all about giving your body a break from the hormones contained within the contraception. So you can make the decision whether you take it or not – but remember the better your pill taking routine, the more likely it is to be effective so if you’re the forgetful type, it might be an idea to stick with your daily dose sugar or not!
2.) Skipping your period is dangerous.
We have to remember that the period you experience whilst taking the contraceptive pill is not a ‘real period.’ It’s what professionals refer to as a withdrawal bleed. It’s your body’s reaction to not having the daily dose of hormones it normally would whilst on the pill. Whilst some women may experience unscheduled or breakthrough bleeding, it is a well accepted practice to take a few cycles of your pill straight after one another without any breaks in between (and some women may choose to do it for even longer.) There is nothing ‘building up’ inside you since the bleed on the pill is merely a reaction to you stopping the dose of hormones – in actual fact, the lining of the uterus becomes thinner ‘skipping’ your period on the pill. Obviously if it makes you feel more comfortable, chat further with your Doctor.
3.) Taking the pill over a long time can affect my fertility.
There are no studies to show that women coming off long-term pill use have any more trouble falling pregnant than women who don’t. Whilst it can take some time (usually a few weeks but can be more) for your cycle to return to your version of ‘normal’ after coming off the pill, there is no long term effect on your ability to fall pregnant. In fact, when you stop taking the pill, you’re unmasking your natural cycle – which for some women may be a lot less regular than they experienced whilst on the pill. Remember, the period you have on the contraceptive pill is a ‘withdrawal bleed’ and comes around like clockwork as it’s regulated by your week’s break from the hormone dose – but this doesn’t mean your cycle will be as regular once you come off the pill.
4.) It’s dangerous to take the emergency contraceptive pill more than once
There are no limits in terms of the amount of times you can use the ‘morning after pill’ as it’s commonly referred to. All this medication is doing is preventing the release of an egg that could be fertilized and result in a pregnancy, so there are no short or long term negative effects to your health. Some women worry about the effects of emergency contraception on their future fertility – again there is no impact on your fertility further than delaying the release of eggs that cycle. The most important thing to remember remember about this form of contraception is to take it as quickly as possible from the unprotected intercourse to increase effectiveness.
5.) The pill makes you put on weight.
Overall studies of the pill don’t show an increase in the weight of the pill-taking population. That’s not to say that on an individual basis some women find their weight can increase, but that being said some also find their weight remains steady or even decreases once they commence pill-use. It’s important to note that the pill may cause an increase in appetite and some women may be more prone to fluid retention, but there are no clear links between actual weight gain and pill use, but if it’s something you’re worried about, chat to your Doctor.
PS. Visit contraceptivematch.com.au to learn more about your options and find helpful information to take to your GP