Birth control pill box

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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.

About the author

Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol- doctor, wife, mom and maker PB&J!
One of my passions is to help people Embrace change, Try new things and be BOLD for a healthier and balanced life!

10 Comments

  • This was an interesting read since I’ve had some of these same fears myself. I was on the pill for 9 years and had some complications so I stopped taking it for fear of infertility. Good to know it won’t stop my chances for having children in the future. Thank you!

    • Yes it is true. The hormonal swings of our regular cycles make some of us prone to acne. Using a combination pill (estrogen and progesterone) could help level out the fluctuations and help the complexion.

  • I have definitely had friends on the pill for years, they came off and had problems with infertility and blamed on the pill, without thinking that in the intervening years, they had aged and their overall fertility went down. love your page- i’m a psychologist and always am looking for other good health professionals’ sites!

    • Nice to meet you Samantha. I will be reaching out to you via email. I see future collaborations between DrPyschMom and Healthgist.

    • Lena,

      The depo shot is quite different from “the pill”. Depo contains only the progesterone hormone which is the pregnancy hormone so to speak. The birth control pill contains both estrogen and progesterone so they kind of balance each other out. Progesterone happens to be an appetite stimulant so no wonder you gained weight on the depo shot.

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