Over the past 15 years of medical practice I have probably heard it ALL regarding oral birth control pills; tons of half-truths and misinformation.
We could all use some validated facts on what the “pill” does or does not do.
Here are the the 5 most common misconceptions:
1. Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) can make you gain weight
I think there are a lot of overweight women out there blaming everything under the sun for their weight issues as this is simply FALSE.
OCPs actually have a mild diuretic like effect so should help keep even water weight off and thus often helps the bloated feeling of the monthly cycle as well.
2. Oral Contraceptive Pills cause breast cancer
This is a more complicated since there are known breast cancers stimulated by estrogen, so we do avoid OCPs in patients with a history of cancer or strong risk factors, but there is no hard evidence as of yet that links the actual combination birth control pills itself that directly causes breast cancer.
Remember, we all have estrogen in us already naturally.
3. Birth Control Pills (OCP) can cause cysts
Actually most types of oral contraceptive pills are used to treat fibrocystic breasts (breast cysts) and painful ovarian cysts
4. Oral contraceptive pills can cause infertility
With certain dosing regimens these medications can be used to stop menses all together and block pregnancy indefinitely but the “Pill” itself does not cause sterilization or fertility problems down the line.
I have had women come into me as a new patient after having been on them regularly for 15 + years and then expect to get pregnant at age 38 years of age without realizing that their overall chances at spontaneous pregnancy since they are older than 35 is very low (less than 5% chance without intervention).
5. All birth control pills cause acne/hair growth
Certain formulations can trigger or aggravate acne and hirsuitism (hair growth in all the wrong places like the chin for us gals) but there are plenty of combination birth control pills that do not do this. Ask your doctor to make sure you are on the right type.