The Contraceptive Pill: Facts and Fables

More than 100 million women worldwide use the contraceptive pill. The Pill is a tablet containing two female hormones – an oestrogen and a progestogen. These two hormones stop you from ovulating each month. In addition, the hormones thicken the secretions round your cervix, making it more difficult for sperm to get through. Also, they make the lining of your womb thinner, so that it’s less receptive to an egg. As with all medical products a lot of stories are are being told about the contraceptive pill. Some stories are true others are just fables.

 Contraceptive pill: The Facts

  1. The contraceptive pill makes you fat. This is a fact. When you start with the pill your body can retain fluid because of the hormones. This leads to weight gain. There are many different types available. Not all pills have the same effect on your body.
  2. When you use the pill you shouldn’t smoke. That’s true. Especially woman above 35 year have a higher risk of damage to heart and blood vessels. However the contraceptive pill has a lot of advantages and smoking only disadvantages. So it’s better to quit smoking.
  3. After surgery most of the time you have to rest (in bed). This can give you blood cloths. The pill can influence this. It’s recommended to stop using the pill a month before a major operation. And only start using again after at least two weeks.
  4. Your breasts are getting bigger when using the pill. This is a fact but it differs per woman. Some pills stimulate the mammary gland more than other.
  5. The contraceptive pill can cause thrombosis. That is true. In some cases there is a slightly increased risk of thrombosis (formation of a blood clot in a vein or in one of the chambers of the heart). However the risk of a thrombosis is much during pregnancy than when using the pill. 

Birth Control Pill

Birth Control Pill(44498)
Credit: Stallinga Design

Contraceptive pill: The Fables

  1. The contraceptive pill protects against aids. This is a fable. It’s not true. The contraceptive pill protects against pregnancy. It doesn’t protect you against aids and other sexually transmitted diseases. It’s recommended to combine the pill with the use of a condom. The condom does protect you against aids.
  2. The hips become wider by using the pill. That’s a fable. The pill is not to blame. Lots of women start using the pill when their body is still growing during the puberty. This makes them think that the pill is responsible.
  3. Using the birth control pill makes you infertile. That’s a lie. There is no link between fertility problems and the use of the pill. When you stop using the pill you can get pregnant immediately.
  4. Breastfeeding is  a good contraceptive. Very very wrong! Breastfeeding as birth control will not work. The chance of a pregnancy is only slightly smaller after giving birth and during breastfeeding periods. Lactation, the secretion of milk from the mammary glands, sees to it that the ovulation suppressed.
  5. The hormones in the pill are unhealthy. That’s a fable. The amounts of hormones in the pills are much much lower in than in the sixties. Modern pills have more pros than cons.

For more information on contraceptives read my article 'Contraceptives: pill, patch, ring, injection, implant and spiral'