Let’s bust some birth control myths. I hear SO SO SO many misconceptions about all types of birth control. It can be challenging for women to sort through what is true and what isn’t. Social media is powerful, and many “influencers” in this space make claims without any scientific basis.
When it comes to birth control, rumors and myths abound. Some of the most common ones regarding Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCPs) are that they:
- Cause weight gain
- Cause cancer
- Make adolescents more likely to have sex
This blog post will examine these four commonly held beliefs and whether they’re true.
Birth Control Myth? Do OCPs Cause Weight Gain?
The answer is ‘No.’ A meta-analysis of 51 studies conducted in 2017 found no clear evidence that OCPs cause weight gain in women who use them. A Cochrane review in 2014 did a meta-analysis of 49 studies looking at weight gain and found no differences between pills and placebo. While some studies found a slight increase in body weight among women taking OCPs, the average increase was less than 2 kg over 1-2 years – an amount too small to be clinically significant. In other words, there is no scientific basis for the belief that birth control pills lead to weight gain.
Do OCPs Cause Infertility?
Again, the answer is ‘No.’ Many people believe that taking OCPs can lead to long-term fertility problems, but this is not true; your fertility will return as soon as you stop taking the pill. It might take a few months for your cycle to become regular again, but you should be able to conceive without any issues once it does.
A study by Barnhart in 2009 (Fertil Steril) and a large European study demonstrated no difference in pregnancy rates at 12 months after discontinuing the pill. Another study in 2008 by Davis (Fertil Steril) showed a 97% return to normal periods at 90s days. And the median time of return to normal periods was 32 days.
Do OCPs Cause Cancer?
Most studies do NOT show a link between OCPs and breast cancer. But some conflicting data shows an increased risk of breast cancer in OCP users. This risk seems to decline over time. Women with HPV may slightly increase cervical cancer risk, but this data is still unclear.
No evidence suggests that taking OCPs increases your risk of developing cancer. On the contrary, studies have shown that taking OCPs can lower your risk of ovarian cancer by up to 50%. Similarly, research has shown that older women who used hormonal contraceptives were less likely than nonusers to develop colorectal cancer after menopause. OCPs REDUCE RISK of uterine, ovarian, and colon cancer.
Will Any Birth Control Make Adolescents More Likely To Have Sex?
No! Studies have found no substantial difference in sexual behavior among adolescents using or not using contraception or any specific type of contraception, such as birth control pills. Therefore, the best way for teens to avoid unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections is by abstaining from sex altogether or by using condoms properly every time they engage in sexual activities with a partner.
Countless studies support that access to contraception DOES NOT increase sexual activity in teens. What it does is decrease unintended teen pregnancy.
Ultimately, while there are many myths surrounding birth control pills (OCPs), none of them are supported by scientific evidence; there is no link between OCP use and infertility, weight gain, or an increased likelihood of engaging in sexual activities among adolescents. Research shows us many benefits associated with using OCPs, including a decreased risk of developing some cancers later in life for those who took them when younger. It’s important for everyone—especially women—to have accurate information about their reproductive health so they can make informed decisions about their care. Don’t believe everything you hear about birth control pills!