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Common birth control misconceptions

Stephanie Taylor Christensen writes about personal finance, small business, and consumer issues. She is the founder of Om for Mom Prenatal Yoga and Toning in Columbus, OH and Wellness On Less, a site dedicated to prioritized living and c...

Test your birth control know-how

You know that you need to use birth control if you're not interested in getting pregnant, but how much do you really know about how it works, how to increase its effectiveness and what method is best for you? Here are common birth control misconceptions debunked.

Woman not sure of birth control facts

With all the birth control options that are available to women (and men), there's sure to be one that will suit a couple's needs to prevent unwanted pregnancy. But to find the method that will work best for you, it helps to understand the myths. Here are four common birth control misconceptions.

The pill is the easiest method

Though popping a daily birth control pill may sound like an easy way of preventing pregnancy, error rates are high, and there are more reliable and inexpensive methods available. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, 28 percent of women who do use birth control take oral contraceptive pills -- but of those women, continuation rates are as low as 29 percent after six months, due to things like expired prescriptions, cost, side effects or simple forgetfulness. As a result, unwanted pregnancy can occur. In the report Continuation and Satisfaction of Reversible Contraception, researchers found that long-acting reversible contraceptive methods, like intrauterine devices (IUDs), actually have "the highest continuation rates and highest levels of satisfaction, are highly effective and are well tolerated."

I'll gain weight

Weight gain is a common misconception associated with birth control. Though an increase in hormones like estrogen and progestin that are delivered to the system in some birth controls may lead to feelings of bloating, increased appetite and increased body fat, there is little evidence that weight gain is a given side effect. If you are concerned about it, many birth control methods, like copper-based intrauterine devices (IUD), work effectively in preventing pregnancy without adding any hormones into the body.

I've been taking the pill -- I'm protected

All birth control pills are not created equally. If you are on a lower-hormone variety, it's especially important to take the pill around the same time every day. If you miss even one pill, use a backup method (like condoms), and follow the directions on the package to ensure that you are protected from getting pregnant until you feel confident your birth control pills are protecting you again. Also, it's important to be aware that If you're on antibiotics, the effectiveness of the pill can be altered.

I'll have a hard time conceiving afterwards

Though medical experts recommend allowing some time between active conception and abandoning birth control, the duration of time varies based on the birth control method you use. If you're taking the pill, wearing the patch or relying on an IUD, for example, pregnancy can happen as soon as you stop taking the birth control. Shots like Depo-Provera may require a bit more time until you're ready to conceive. Consult your doctor about your plans to intentionally get pregnant and remember that backup methods are necessary once you're off your regular birth control -- unless you're ready for a baby now.

Expert Tip

If you're not using effective birth control methods, you have up to a 25 percent chance of getting pregnant during any fertile cycle.

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