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birth control pills

Are Birth Control Pills Safe?

What do birth control pills do?

Hormones in birth control pills prevent pregnancy by stopping or reducing the process of ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary). They thicken the cervical mucus to keep sperm from entering the uterus, and also thin the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg is less likely to attach.

Is it a good idea to use birth control pills after sex?

If, for some reason, you had to have sex unprotected, in an emergency situation, you can use the morning-after pill, or emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs), which can be taken up to 120 hours (or 5 days) after having unprotected sex. In normal situations, it is not a good practice to use such pills. There are other less extreme measures that can be adopted to avoid pregnancy, like using condoms.

There are many myths and rumours around birth control methods and their overall effects. It is very important to understand it properly, as they may affect your decision to choose the right birth control method to avoid and prevent pregnancy. Here are five common myths that need some explanation and clarification:

  1. Consuming birth control pills causes weight gain: This is a false statement, as the pills do not promote weight gain but they actually help the women suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) in losing weight. 
  2. The pills affect your fertility: This is not true, as these pills only prevent ovulation and pregnancies. Besides that, there is no evidence that it affects fertility in any way.
  3. Older people don’t need birth control: This is a myth because men can remain fertile up to the age of 60 or 70, and irregular periods do not guarantee the absence of the ability to bear a child, unless the woman has gone through menopause.
  4. Birth control pills should not be taken continuously: Women who are taking traditional birth control pills don’t need to stop in-between or take a break from contraceptive pills unless they are planning a baby.
  5. Contraceptive pills lead to abnormal hair growth or acne: This is a common misconception, as contraceptive pills only reduce the testosterone level in the body and reduce the risk of acne or abnormal hair growth, primarily in PCOS patients.

Common birth control pills side effects

Common birth control pills side effects include spotting or bleeding between periods (this is more common with progestin-only pills), sore breasts, nausea, or headaches. But these usually go away after a couple of months, and they don’t happen to everyone who takes the pill. Birth control shouldn’t make you feel sick or uncomfortable in any way.

What are long term side effects of birth control pills?

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), taking birth control pills may increase your risk of breast cancer or cervical cancer over time, meaning that the longer you use them, the higher the risk. The use of pills doesn’t guarantee any safety from sexually-transmitted diseases, and it is best to use protection.

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