Whether or not you’re interested in having children, nearly every woman has used some form of contraception during their reproductive years. Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that between 2015 - 2017, 72.2 million women between 15-49 used a range of contraception, such as oral contraceptives, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), male condoms, and female sterilization.
Despite its widespread use, there are still a number of myths surrounding birth control that may prevent some people from using certain methods. Not every woman will be able to use all of the same forms of birth control, but having the facts will make a difference regarding how you choose what works for you. Let’s try to better understand how birth control works, and separate the facts about it from the fiction.
Residents of the Beverly Hills and Redondo Beach, California areas looking for effective birth control and other OB/GYN needs can find help from the team of doctors at Women's Care of Beverly Hills.
The basic function of birth control is to prevent getting pregnant from sex with your partner or spouse, and some type of it has been around for centuries. Over the course of thousands of years, a variety of ineffective methods have been used as a form of birth control including mercury, disinfectants, animal fecal matter, lemon halves, and even soda. Condoms have actually been around for thousands of years, but they were made of a variety of materials of varying effectiveness.
Modern methods of contraception, such as diaphragms, cervical caps, cervical sponges, intrauterine devices (IUDs), sterilization, and spermicides are safe methods of birth control that perform the tasks in a variety of ways. But unless you never want to have kids, most methods can be reversed if you at some point decide to have a family.
Many of the misconceptions about birth control concern things like when you can get pregnant, the negative effects of some methods, and when protection should be used. Here are some examples:
This is known as the withdrawal method and while you can avoid pregnancy by pulling out before ejaculating, there is also the possibility of sperm being present at the tip of the penis during withdrawal even if climax is not reached inside. This means that traces of sperm can be left inside, leading to pregnancy.
Many women try to time having sex during specific points during their menstrual cycle to have sex at what they believe is a safe point before ovulation (when egg are released from your ovaries). However, ovulation can take place earlier than expected, and sperm can live in a woman’s body for days, making conception possible.
Since breastfeeding is a process that happens after giving birth, and ovulation generally pauses during this time, you’re less likely to get pregnant. While there is a reduction of fertility at this point, it is far from a foolproof method of contraception, and doesn’t mean you won’t ovulate and get pregnant while you are breastfeeding.
If you decide to have children, a common myth is that if you’ve taken contraceptives for a long time you have a harder time getting pregnant. However, once you’re no longer taking birth control, your body’s menstrual cycle and fertility doesn’t take long to get back to normal. The main exceptions to this are contraceptive injections like Depo-Provera® or Depo-Ralovera®, which can take up to 18 months to leave your body, and tubal ligation, which is a form of permanent sterilization.
IUDs work by either preventing sperm from fertilizing eggs (copper IUDs work this way) or by producing a balance of hormones to prevent ovulation. Several myths surround using them, including increased risks of pelvic inflammatory diseases (PIDs), infertility, and ectopic pregnancies (where a pregnancy develops outside of the uterus). However there is little evidence for any of these myths, and IUDs generally perform well with women that use them.
There are plenty of misconceptions about birth control, but if you want to determine which options are best for your needs, make an appointment with the staff at Women's Care of Beverly Hills today to find the method that works for you.