The Top Ten Myths About the Pill

The contraceptive pill is often the source of myths or half-truths. Here a few answers to the most common mistakes.

Myth: All birth control pills are the same

There are many different brands of birth control pills available, and they are not all the same. The most common type of pills are called Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCs), which means that the pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin. Progestin-Only Pills (POP), or “mini-pills”, are another type of birth control pills that contain a progestin but not estrogen.

Different brands of pills may contain different doses of these hormones, or they may provide different doses at different times throughout each pill pack. Taken correctly, all birth control pills provide excellent contraception, but because of these differences, each brand may provide slightly different benefits and side-effects.

Myth: Women over 35 can't take the pill           

The pill is one of the world’s most researched and prescribed medication. Worldwide, about 100 million women use the pill. Like any medication there are certain health risks associated with taking the pill, but serious side effects are very rare. For example, blood clots are more common in pregnant women than they are in women who take the pill. The pill also provides some health benefits. The pill is not right for everyone, but for many healthy women it provides a very safe, very effective method of birth control.

Myth: The Pill causes cancer

There are still some unanswered questions about the cancer risks, if any, of using the pill. It appears that the pill decreases the risk of some cancers, while there may be either a very slight increase or no increase in the risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that the pill actually lowers the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers by up to 50%, and some of this protection actually continues even after a woman stops using the pill.

We also know that some studies have found that the pill is associated with a very small increase in the risk of breast cancer, but other studies have found no increase in the risk of breast cancer. We also know that women who do not have children or have children very late are at a higher risk of breast cancer. For this reason it is difficult to say if this increased risk of breast cancer is caused by taking the pill or by the fact that women who take the pill generally postpone having a child. There seems to be no change in risk if the pill is taken longer or with different doses of estrogen and progestin. The effect of taking the pill on the risk of cervical cancer is still uncertain.

Myth: Women who take the pill for a long time need to stop using the pill and take a “break” once in a while

There is no reason for a healthy woman to take a rest from using the pill. The pill is one of the most effective contraceptives available, and taking a “pill break” may increase your risk of having an unplanned pregnancy if you are sexually active while you are off of it. It may also mean that you will have to go through some of the side-effects that women often experience during the first months on the pill. These could include spotting, breast tenderness, nausea and headaches.

Myth: Teens need their parent's permission to take the pill

A healthcare provider does not need the parents' permission to prescribe contraception, providing that the teen understands the potential risks and potential benefits of her decision. However, starting on contraceptives is a big decision, and teens may want to discuss it with a parent, guardian, or another trusted adult first. Except in rare situations that involve abuse or issues related to the Child and Family Services Act , health care is kept confidential, and will not be disclosed to the parents or any other members of the teen's family.

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