Let’s be real: birth control is a great thing. If it does its job, it prevents pregnancy, alleviates horrible cramps and reduces acne.
Myths about birth control range from obscene weight gain to infertility with prolonged use and protection against sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. Put Simply, these just aren’t true.
Weight gain is a big reason some women choose not to go on birth control altogether — I know I was hesitant at first, too. But many studies, such as “Effect of birth control pills and patches on weight” published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website, show no direct link between contraception and weight gain.
Some explanations as to why women feel they gain weight when taking birth control may be that the hormone progestin may increase appetite, and the added estrogen may lead to bloating and water retention. Focusing on a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet and exercise will help keep weight off.
The idea that using birth control, specifically the pill, for long periods of time leads to fertility problems is also a common belief, and it makes sense if you think about it. But you can get pregnant as soon as you stop using your birth control, which is why it’s vital to remember to use it exactly how it’s intended, whether it’s taking a pill every day or changing your intrauterine device (IUD) every month.
Hormonal birth control can help protect you from pregnancy, bad acne, cramps, period irregularity, an increased risk of cancer — the list goes on. But of all the various types of protection offered, the only way to prevent yourself from getting STIs is to use a condom or another type of barrier contraception or to abstain from sex altogether.
The positives of birth control far outweigh the negatives, and I would rather gain a little weight from the pill than gain a lot of weight from a baby.
There are many different forms of contraception beyond the pill, and all offer similar benefits. Research can and should be done in order to figure out which type is best for each individual, but it’s important to know that weight gain and infertility aren’t side effects of any birth control, and STI protection can only be offered through barrier contraceptives.