The decision to become a parent — or not — is probably the most important one any human being can make. That’s why everyone deserves access to affordable, safe, and high-quality birth control.
In your personal birth control journey, it’s important to understand your choices and what best fits your body and lifestyle. Unfortunately, birth control misinformation is easy to get your hands on. Debunking myths surrounding contraception is an important first step to making the right birth control choice for you.
Myth #1: Getting a Prescription for Birth Control Is a Hassle
Time was, you could only get a prescription for hormonal birth control by seeing your doctor in person. Fortunately, accessing quality birth control has shifted dramatically over the years, to the point where you can now obtain birth control online. This makes low-cost and hassle-free methods more widely available than ever before.
Accessing birth control should be easy, and telehealth companies have changed the game. You don’t even have to deal with the inconvenience of setting up an appointment. Instead, you begin by requesting a prescription and filling out a patient intake form. The provider reviews your health profile and prescribes the appropriate medication, which is discreetly mailed right to your door. The added ease of automatic refills means you’re less likely to miss a future dose.
Myth #2: Birth Control Is Expensive
Taking birth control does not have to break the bank thanks to the numerous free or low-cost options widely available. Birth control pills can be entirely free with most health insurance plans or with some government programs if you qualify. Groups like Planned Parenthood provide contraceptives based on a patient’s ability to pay, while online providers have also expanded budget-friendly options. Lack of insurance does not have to be a barrier to affordability and access.
Of course, prices will range based on the type of birth control method you choose to use. Birth control pills occupy the cheaper end of the spectrum, while an intrauterine device (IUD) could set you back more than $1,000. But here, too, the cost of an IUD could be much lower — even $0 — if covered by your health insurance or Medicaid.
Myth #3: Options for Hormonal Birth Control Are Limited to the Pill
The pill revolutionized birth control, and back in the 1960s and ’70s, it was the only game in town. Today, you have far more choices for your birth control than in past decades. Options include the pill, of course, but also the patch, vaginal ring, shot, implant, or hormonal IUD. While the IUD or implant will require insertion by a doctor, you can self-administer the other methods — including the shot.
Even if you go with the pill, you still have a choice between two different types, both containing hormones that prevent pregnancy. The combination pill contains both estrogen and progestin; the other is a progestin-only pill, commonly referred to as the minipill. A healthcare provider can help you decide which medication will work best for you and your body. You can also choose between many generic and name-brand selections. Most importantly, you can remain right where you belong — in the driver’s seat of your care.
Myth #4: Birth Control Is 100% Effective
The good news is that birth control is highly effective, but human nature being what it is, no contraceptive is guaranteed. Hormonal birth control methods — including the pill, patch, ring, and shot — are up to 99% successful in preventing pregnancy. But this efficacy rate depends on consistent and optimal use. When you factor in missed pills, the efficacy rate drops slightly but is still high.
When taking the pill or other forms of contraceptives, it is crucial to follow directions given by your healthcare provider. If you’re on the pill, you need to take your medication every day, ideally at the same time of day. Should you miss a pill, it’s a good idea to use a backup method, like a male or female condom. This added level of reliability helps you remain in control of your body and choices.
Myth #5: The Pill Causes Infertility Over Time
Some users fear that the pill could harm their later chances of conceiving, but long-term use of birth control should not impact your fertility. Hormones in contraceptives only stay in your body for a short period of time. Once you stop taking birth control pills, your cycle should return to what it was before within a few months. With the shot, it may take a bit longer — approximately six to 12 months — for cycles to become regular.
Far from ruining your future odds of becoming pregnant, the pill can actually help preserve fertility. That’s because it offers protection against fertility-harming conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and ectopic pregnancy.
Myth #6: Using Birth Control Causes Weight Gain
Birth control pills, rings, shots, and patches are very unlikely to affect numbers on the scale for most users. Misinformation surrounding weight gain can lead some patients to stop using these high-quality methods. Luckily, numerous clinical studies have debunked this myth. Some birth control users even report losing weight while on hormonal contraceptives.
Fluid retention or increased muscle tissue or body fat are more likely to be the cause of any noticeable weight gain. Women also generally have an elevated chance of gaining weight as they age. While these facts won’t make added pounds any more welcome, at least they absolve highly effective hormonal birth control methods. And that’s a good thing, given that nothing causes weight gain quite like pregnancy!
Numerous safe and cost-effective birth control options are widely available today, and they’re easier to obtain than ever before. With the increased access to services, prescriptions don’t have to be a hassle or strain your wallet. You deserve the freedom that comes with choice and convenience — and controlling your own reproductive destiny.