Living in India and not coming across myths about something or the other is almost an impossible thing, so here we will try to do our part in busting your misconceptions and myths you heard about contraception and its various methods.
1. Contraceptives cause infertility
Fact: All birth control methods except for tubectomy and vasectomy are reversible and therefore even prolonged use of these will not hamper a person’s ability to have children in future. There may be other factors that cause infertility such as smoking, drinking, sexual and medical history but not use of contraceptives.
2. Hormonal pills cause weight gain
Fact: There isn’t enough evidence to believe that having hormonal pills cause weight gain. Of the women tested for such a side effect, only a few who used these hormonal pills for prolonged periods reported slight weight gain that was not substantial. However, there are numerable factors that cause weight gain such as eating habits, diabetes, other medications and stress or even your family history of obesity.
3. Contraceptive pills start working from the moment you start taking them
Fact: It takes a week on average for the combination pills or mini pills to start working towards preventing pregnancy effectively and therefore these pills aren’t like instant noodles that you like. Have patience!
4. All contraceptive methods prevent STDs
Fact: It is very pertinent to point out here that of all kinds of contraceptive methods i.e. barrier method, hormonal method, surgical method and natural methods, only the barrier method is effective in preventing STDs. As only condoms act as a layer between the two genitals, however it is only effective if the male/female condom is fully covering the infected area or the sores.
5. I am breastfeeding so I cannot get pregnant
Fact: The prolactin hormone (or the milk-producing hormone) is produced in the bodies of women who have been nursing their baby. This hormone suppresses the ovulation process and therefore the woman does not get periods, providing for a natural contraception. Different women have different time gaps between childbirth and the first post-natal bleeding but following pointers are to be checked to rely on lactational amenorrhoea to be effective:
It has been less than 6 months to childbirth
The periods have not returned
The baby is being exclusively breastfed.
But there always are chances of your period returning unannounced before the 6 months are over so you never know when you might get fertile while you are breastfeeding.
6. Douching, washing or urinating immediately after coitus washes out all the sperms
Fact: As soon as a man ejaculates inside the vagina of the woman, the millions of sperms present inside the semen begin swimming swiftly to their target site - to the ova. By the time the woman is able to douche or wash her genitals, thousands of sperms have already entered the cervix and went beyond that, therefore making the douching or washing ineffective.
Urinating right after sex helps prevent Urinary Tract Infections but won’t prevent conception. Remember urethra and vagina are near each other but entirely unrelated.
7. Today is a safe day
Fact: A very delicate balance of FSH, LH, progesterone and estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle, and slightest variation in the levels of either hormone can disturb the otherwise regular cycle. Thus, any predictions about ovulating or safe days is a gamble you may win or lose.
Remember rhythm/natural family planning method of contraception is only 72-76% effective, and even the days that you are menstruating aren’t completely safe days.
8. He/I will pull out before ejaculation
Fact: Coitus interruptus/Withdrawal method is all about timing but even great timing isn’t always fool proof here. Even if the man perfectly pulls out before he ejaculates, there are chances of the woman getting pregnant with the few sperms present in the pre-seminal fluid that the man releases before he ejaculates. On the other hand, not all men have the willpower or the swiftness of action to withdraw their penis before they climax.
9. IUDs get lost in uterus
Fact: IUDs have a success rate of about 90-98% and if it does not work for a woman it normally is expelled out of the cervix but does not get lost in the uterus; however, there are very thin chances of it happening.
10. Hormonal contraceptives lower the libido
Fact: Pills aren’t exactly the culprits if one experiences lowering of libido, although the combination pills do lower the testosterone levels present in the woman’s body which is responsible for inducing sex drive. However, that can only lower the libido if the default testosterone level was already too low, which is rare.
Studies show pills don’t have an impact as such on a woman’s sex drive.
Lastly, the best form of contraception is sexual abstinence at the end of the day and it's 100% effective!