Understanding contraceptive options is an important way women can empower themselves and take control of their health and wellness. Given that half of all pregnancies are unintended, there’s still work to be done when it comes to getting credible information about contraception into the hands of those who need it.
With that being said, let’s debunk some common myths about contraception.
Myth #1 – Birth control is 100 per cent effective
There are several contraceptive methods from which to choose, but none are 100 per cent effective.
Intrauterine devices (commonly referred to as IUDs) are the most effective non-surgical form of contraception and are the first-line recommendation of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada’s clinical practice guidelines.
The following table shows various contraceptive methods and their actual effectiveness:
Myth #2 – Hormonal contraceptives increase the risk of cancer
Combined oral contraceptive, or “the pill,” is not associated with an overall increased risk of cancer. In fact, using the pill is associated with a lifelong reduction in colorectal, endometrial and ovarian cancer risk.
Some evidence shows a transient and slight increase in breast and cervical cancer incidence with current use of the pill; however, this risk returns to baseline within 10 years of stopping the pill and is outweighed by the greater risk reduction of ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Myth #3 – Hormonal contraceptives cause weight gain
Research shows that the pill and IUDs don’t cause weight gain. However, there’s conflicting evidence when it comes to injected progesterone-only methods (Depo-Provera), with some studies showing a small increase in weight and others showing no association.
Myth #4 – You can’t get pregnant when breastfeeding
Pregnancy prevention when breastfeeding is known as the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). LAM is an excellent form of birth control for the initial six months after giving birth if all conditions are strictly followed (i.e. the baby is exclusively breastfed on demand with no pumping or formula supplementation). However, with typical use, this method is only 75 per cent effective.
Myth #5 – All contraceptive methods are appropriate for all women
Choosing a contraceptive is an important health decision, and so I recommend making an appointment with your physician or nurse practitioner for a personalized discussion about your options.
There are many factors to consider when weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each contraceptive method. If you’re deciding on a new method, visit www.itsaplan.ca/ for an interactive tool to help you explore and It’s a plan was created to help you and your health care provider determine the method that’s best for you. narrow down your contraception options.