Ever heard a wild birth control story from your BFF about her sister’s ex-boyfriend’s cousin and got convinced it was true? Unfortunately, birth control myths abound: we hear a convincing anecdote, believe them, and become afraid as a result. But a lot of the time, we’re misunderstanding the science behind the medication, or other factors that could contribute to one person’s reaction to birth control.
We’ve narrowed down some of the biggest birth control myths and fact-checked them.
Myth #1: Birth Control Will Make You Fat
Studies have been conducted to address these concerns, and the truth is that where weight gain does occur, the amount is almost negligible; about two kilograms. In a 2014 study, researchers studied people using hormonal birth control who were obese and those who had normal weight (according to their BMI) for three to four months. They found no significant changes in weight or body composition among the participants. Another review of available studies drew similar conclusions. One literature review found evidence of weight gain in people using the Depo Provera, otherwise known as the injectable contraception.
Bottom line: The studies don’t support the claims about weight gain, to a large extent. But if you’re still concerned about weight gain, chat to your doctor, who can recommend either a lower dosage of hormones, or a complete alternative.
Myth #2: Birth Control Pills Will Make You Depressed
Many studies in this field have been conducted, but the quality of the studies meant we couldn’t be sure. That is, until a 2016 Danish study of over a million people with uteri suggested a link between all forms of hormonal contraception and an increased risk of depression. The risk was found to be greater among adolescents, and decreased with age. Turns out, this birth control myth may have legs.
Bottom line: From the study’s findings, it seems that under progesterone’s influence (an important component in hormonal birth control), depression could take hold. If that’s the case for you, try exploring non-hormonal methods, like the copper IUD.
Myth #3: Contraception Gives You Brain Fog
Brain fog is a common feeling of forgetfulness, feeling “slow”, and a general sluggish feeling when it comes to thinking and concentrating. Many women report feeling foggy when taking birth control. One 2015 study found that the substance used to mimic oestrogen in your body, ethinyl estradiol, was associated with brain fog when taken at high doses. But at the levels most commonly taken today, the impact of thinking and memory wasn’t shown.
Bottom line: Studies or not, some people still find the sluggish feeling to be a result of birth control, although it could also be a result of the interaction between other medications. Chat to your doctor about the ratios in your birth control if you’re bothered by it.
Myth #4: Emergency Contraception Is Abortion
An abortion only occurs when an egg has being fertilised by sperm in the body. The Morning-After Pill (MAP) acts as contraception: preventing pregnancy by deterring ovulation. (Ovulation is when an egg is released through the fallopian tube and into the womb, where it waits to be fertilised.) It could also be helpful in creating a sticky environment, preventing the sperm and egg from meeting.
Bottom line: Emergency contraception can only prevent a pregnancy from occurring, and for that reason, it can’t be treated as an abortion.
When you’re chatting with your friends or hear a story about birth control, make sure to always fact-check. Sure, the science can be difficult to understand but misinformation can be more harmful. If you’re not sure about something, you could always chat to a Zoie professional.