Health & Fitness

Birth Control Pill Myths

Birth Control Pill Myths
Written by Sarah

Dr Duru Shah deconstructs the myths about oral contraceptives that have prevailed over the years.

Myth # 1: “The pill causes cancer”

• Reality: Women on the pill have:

• Less risk of cancer of the ovaries

• Less risk of cancer of the lining of the uterus

• Possibly less risk of cancer of the bowel

• Mortality = about 10 per million

Myth # 2: “The pill causes infertility when it is stopped”

Reality: Post pill infertility

• More than 12,000 pregnant ex-pill-users, after at least five years of use, were statistically less likely than non-users to have any delay in conceiving…! – Farrow et al (J Hum Reprod, 2002)

Myth # 3: “The pill causes weight gain”

Reality: Among users of two 20 mcg Oestrogen-containing pills, in a one-year trial:

In one pill group:

• 13% Lost > 2 kg

• 74% Stayed at same weight + 2 kg

• 13% did gain > 2kg

(The other group showed similar results)

Myth # 4: “The pill cannot be used while breast-feeding as hormones affect growth of babies”

Reality: oestrogen-free pill and progesterone-only pill have proven to:

• Be safe while breast-feeding.

• Not affect the growth of babies.

• Not affect the quantity and quality of breast milk.

Myth # 5: “There should be a gap after three to six months of continued pill use”

Reality: No gap is necessary as the one-week gap after every three weeks of taking the pill is adequate.

Myth # 6: “The pill cannot be taken after 35 years of age”

Reality: With selective progesterones like desogestrel, it can be continued till menopause.

Myth # 7: “The pill has bad side effects”


• Brilliant at its main job (contraception, preserving reversibility)

• Menstrual benefits, especially less painful and lighter periods – or no periods at all!

• Less risk of cancer of the ovary

• Less risk of cancer of the lining of the uterus

• Possibly less risk of cancer of the bowel

• Less pelvic infection

• Less ovarian cysts

Minor drawbacks could, in certain cases, cause:

• Weight gain

• Acne

• Mood changes

• Breast tenderness

• Headaches

• Nausea

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