Over 150 million women across the globe rely on oral contraceptives to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. With governments and civil agencies taking the responsibility of spreading awareness about oral contraceptives, the prevalence of myths and misconceptions amongst users and non-users has significantly decreased.
However, some relentless misconceptions are still prevalent. Here are 5 of them along with the facts:
Misconception #1- Oral contraceptives work from the first day itself
Fact: No. The hormones in the oral contraceptive pills take about a week to start working as part of your system. Starting a pill today and expecting it to prevent a pregnancy tomorrow is unrealistic and unsafe. Plus, they need to be taken at the same (or similar) time each day for it to be effective. In the case of Mankind’s Unwanted -21, you need to take one pill each day at the same time for 21 days, followed by your days of period. Then you start another pack to maintain the level of hormones needed to prevent ovulation.
However, there are emergency oral contraceptive pills such as Mankind’s Unwanted-72– India’s No. 1 Contraceptive Tablet. It is a single pill that must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or protection failure. Remember, it is to be adopted in case of an emergency and not as a regular form of birth control.
Misconception #2- Oral contraceptives can cause congenital disabilities or infertility
Fact: Hormonal oral contraceptives are among the most widely researched and documented methods of birth control for women. Yes, it does come with certain side effects for many women, but none of them relate to a potential congenital disability in the future baby.
Birth control pills don’t affect your fertility. In fact, you can get pregnant soon after stopping the pill. What can happen is- taking oral contraceptives may have prevented you from discovering any pre-existing fertility issues you or your partner may have.
A word of advice- consult your doctor before starting on any contraception method. They will guide you best based on your medical history and educate you on any possible health risks for you or a baby should you choose to get pregnant in the future.
Misconception #3- All oral contraceptives are the same.
Fact: No. There are two types of oral contraceptives available for women- combinations pills that contain progestin and oestrogen, and mini pill which contains only progestin. Mini tablets contain lesser hormones and are known to lead to fewer side effects than the combination pill. On the other side, they are more difficult to keep track of as they need to be taken at the same time every day, unlike combination pills that still have the leeway of an hour here and there.
Consult your doctor to understand which type of oral contraceptive works best for you based on your lifestyle, preferences, and health history.
Misconception #4- Oral contraceptives cannot be used for anything else.
Fact: The hormones in the pill can be used for non-contraception purposes as well. Oral contraceptives have proven to be effective in alleviating some of the painful symptoms of PCOD. It can also help regularise the menstrual cycle. It can reduce heavy bleeding during the period, thus preventing possible anaemia. Millions of women use oral contraceptives for non-pregnancy related concerns.
Misconception #5- Oral contraceptives are not suited for teenagers.
Fact: Regular contraceptives need a healthcare worker’s prescription. However, depending on the teenager’s geographical location, the healthcare worker doesn’t need to have the teenager’s parent/guardian’s permission to sign a prescription. As long as the teenager expresses an understanding of how to effectively use the oral contraceptives, and they are healthy enough, the healthcare worker will prescribe the oral contraceptives.
Empower yourself and others around you with the correct knowledge about oral contraceptive pills.