Choosing to go on the birth control pill is a big decision in a girl’s life. While it’s great to take preventative measures against unwanted pregnancies, you also fear the side effects that come from ingesting hormones in your body. You hear scary tales through the grapevine (“It makes you gain weight!” “It made me cry all the time!”), and you wonder if it is actually worth it.
Personally, I’ve been on birth control for about ten years. I’ve spent days and days at Planned Parenthood trying to get a birth control prescription filled, and I’ve had to switch brands a couple times to find the right fit for me. Even with the headache, the benefits of having an easy period and knowing that I will only get pregnant when I’m ready outweigh any negatives.
This is a deeply personal subject, but know that there are many options out there to help you prevent pregnancy and regulate your period. This article is to help you elevate any irrational fears you may have about birth control, but ultimately it’s important to listen to your own body. Here are 8 common fears about birth control pills, explained:
Do You Really Gain Weight When On The Pill?You may have heard stories about women packing on a few pounds while taking birth control pills. If you're worried about that, it's actually a myth left over from older versions of birth control. 60 years ago, when birth control contained large amounts of Estrogen, weight gain was a side effect - not anymore! And honestly, even if it was, wouldn't you rather gain a few pounds than get pregnant? It's really not that big a deal! When you first start using birth control, you may gain a little weight due to fluid retention. It's not actually extra pounds or fat, it's water weight - basically bloating. This should go away after a few months. Studies show that birth control has no long-term effects on weight. But some girls report that bloating happens all the time. If that's the case, then that specific pill might not be right for you. Source: iStock
Can't I Get A Blood Clot From The Pill?Yes, it's possible to get a blood clot. But it's very unlikely that you will due to your birth control. You actually have a much higher chance of getting one if you become pregnant! Certain birth control pills (especially newer ones like Yaz, Yasmin, and Desogen) do increase the risk of blood clotting, but it only causes 14 out of 10,000 cases of blood clots per year. If you have personal or family history of clots, you smoke, are obese, have cardiovascular disease, have migraines with aura, or you’re over 35, the risk of a blood clot is higher and you should talk to your doctor. There are options available that do not involve hormones (like the copper IUD). Source: iStock
Does The Pill Really Lower Your Sex Drive?It's possible that your birth control pill may lower your sex drive, but it's usually not the case. Every body is different - the hormones in contraceptive pills will mixed with your unique body chemistry will determine your reaction to the pill. In a 2013 study, only 15% of women taking a birth control pill experienced diminished sexual desire. Some women have also reported having less vaginal lubrication as a result of the pill. If you're experiencing a dip in your desire to have sex, there may be other factors to consider besides your birth control. Health, stress, feelings about your partner, and diet can all have an effect on libido. Talk to your doctor if you're feeling a lower sexual drive, and they can determine if you should try a different type of birth control.
Doesn't The Pill Make You Act Crazy?Some women say that their birth control has caused them to feel large mood swings and even depression. Doctors say that there is very little evidence that there is a correlation between the two. Birth control helps with bad cramps, heavy periods, acne, and regulating your cycle - all things that would improve your mood. But sometimes, the Pill has the opposite effect. That usually means it's not the right pill for you. If you're experiencing mental health problems after starting birth control, talk to your doctor. There are multiple types of contraceptives with different hormone combinations - a doctor can help you find the right fit. Be sure to be open with them about any other things going on in your life that may be causing you emotional stress. The bottom line is - listen to your body. If you try birth control pills and don't like how you feel, explore other methods of protection. Source: iStock
What If Your Parents Get Mad?Your parents' views on birth control is extremely personal, but women take them for other reasons besides being sexually active. Many girls are prescribed birth control to help with cramping, irregular periods, and acne. I've had many friends talk to their parents about getting a prescription to help with those factors, and it makes the conversation less awkward. Remember - your health and well-being comes before any biases that your parents have. Source: iStock
Does The Pill Give You Cancer?Birth control actually prevents cancer of the ovaries and in the lining of the uterus (it cuts your chance in half!). The risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancer has shown to increase with use of birth control. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, it may be advisable to go with a method with a low dose of estrogen. Source: iStock
Is It Super Expensive?Cost should not be a factor when deciding whether or not to take birth control (we're talking about bringing another life into the world, after all!). There are plenty of resources for you if you aren't able to afford medication. First, the Affordable Care Act has guaranteed that if you have insurance, there are no-cost birth control options available to you (Thanks, Obama!). If you don't want to use your parents' insurance because you don't feel comfortable with them knowing you take birth control, Planned Parenthood can provide you with affordable contraceptives - depending on your income, you may be able to get them for free! Source: iStock
Will The Pill Really Make It Hard To Get Pregnant In The Future?You might not be thinking about having a baby now, but you might eventually! Reversible birth control methods do not affect your ability to get pregnant after you stop taking them. The hormones from your contraceptives leave your body in a few days, and your body goes back to "normal" ovulating within a few months. There are no lingering effects, despite what you may have heard Khloe Kardashian say. If you've been on birth control for a long time, you may worry that it will be harder for you to get pregnant. This is not the case! Even if you've taken birth control for many years, your body will revert back the same way. Gynecologists swear this up and down, and if you can't trust them, who can you trust? Source: iStock
What things scare you about birth control? Have you had a good experience with your contraception of choice? Let us know in the comments below?