Contraception, Myths, Learn & Ask

By Joshua Ng (CARiNG Pharmacist) | Malaysia | Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:38pm

Contraception, Myths, Learn & Ask

1. “The Pill makes me gain weight.”
The pill will not cause you to directly gain weight. The main reason why some experience weight gain is due to an increase in appetite when on the pill. If you are having a ferocious appetite, try staying away from fattening foods and stick to healthier snacks.

2. “I don’t need birth control as I am breastfeeding.”
Although you might not be having your period while breastfeeding after childbirth, ovulation can still occur, and you may get pregnant. It is possible to ovulate as early as 6 weeks even after childbirth! Some breastfeeding women might ovulate before actually having a period. It is best to have a reliable contraceptive method when you start having sex again.

3. “Being on the Pill will make it harder for me to get pregnant later on.”
Hormonal contraceptive pills are fully reversible. Once stopped, the traces of medicine can be gone from the body in a few days. The same goes for Intrauterine devices which can be removed by your doctor once you decide to get pregnant. This will result in a return to the normal state of fertility.

4. “If I’ve had unprotected sexual intercourse (without using any contraception), nothing can be done to prevent pregnancy.”
Emergency contraceptive pills are available at clinics and pharmacies. “Morning after pills” is another name for it. The general rule is to take this emergency pill within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The earlier you take, the safer you are from an unwanted pregnancy. However, it might not be a good idea to take this regularly as it can cause hormonal imbalance and irregular menstrual cycles.

5. “If I get pregnant while using contraception, my baby will be abnormal.”
Even though there is a minimal chance of pregnancy while using contraception, the contraception methods used will not cause birth defects. Birth defect-causing drugs are not used in contraception methods. But of course, do stop the contraception if you are pregnant and consult your gynecologist to manage the pregnancy accordingly.

6. “It's unhealthy to use birth control to skip my period.”
Using the hormonal contraceptive pill will allow you to manipulate the timing of your period as desired. This is especially useful for that beach holiday! The pill also allows you to skip your period (take it continuously – i.e. skip that 7-day pill free period). It is safe to miss your period. However, take note that harmless spotting might occur.  This is due to build-up of blood linings in the uterus that have not been “shed off” during a regular occurring period.

7. “I might get cancer if I am on hormonal contraceptives.”
The use of hormonal contraceptives are in fact, known to reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. As for breast cancer and cervical cancer, the evidence is not very concrete.  Therefore, avoid the pill if you have a family history of breast or cervical cancer. Generally, if you are a non-smoker, below the age of 35 and you are healthy, hormonal contraception is a safe.

8. “I am safe as long as I am on the pill”
Yes but you should consider things like Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD). This risk is higher especially if one has multiple partners. Only a condom can effectively protect oneself from an STD.

9. “I won't get pregnant if my partner pulls out before he ejaculates.”
The penis can release a lubricant that contains sperm even before ejaculation. Can you really rely on him to pull out in time? Hmm.. Maybe it’s safer for you (yes, you girl) take charge. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

10. “I don't need contraception because we only have sex during the "safe" time.”
It’s true that women are only generally fertile for a small window of 1-3 days in a month. However, the sperm can live up to 1-5 days in the vagina. Also, most women have irregular menstrual cycles. This irregularity is caused by various factors such as stress, lack of sleep, too much or too little exercise, medicines, etc. It is difficult to predict the timing of ovulation, so you’re never quite sure when is the safe time to have sex.

11. “The pill works immediately after I take it”
The combined hormonal contraceptive takes one week for it to be fully effective against pregnancy. Upon initiation of the pill, additional barrier methods such as the condom is needed for the 1st week.

Author’s comments: These are a common contraception questions we get from patients/customers at the pharmacy. Feel free to visit CARiNG outlets if you have further questions regarding this topic and we will try our best to reply your queries.

Reference: Fifth edition, 2015 Medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use. World Health Organization 2015.





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