India lacks sex education, which is why there is little reproductive health awareness and many misconceptions. According to Dr Neha Bothara, consultant gynecologist and obstetrician, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, unfounded concerns or false perceptions deter men and women from using a particular contraceptive method, if at all. This can lead to unwanted pregnancies and physical and mental harm to the woman.

Why use contraceptive pills?

Their biggest advantage is that they are effective and have a low failure rate when used correctly. “Other benefits include regular menstrual cycles and lighter flow. The need to take one pill daily can seem tedious and lead to missed pills, which add to the failure rate. Women, therefore, need to take responsibility of their reproductive health while consuming contraceptive consciously and carefully,” the doctor advises.

Contraceptive myths

Dr Bothara shares the five most common myths about pills that one must never believe:

1. All contraceptive pills cause weight gain: First generation contraceptive pills caused some temporary weight gain related to fluid retention in the body. Newer formulations do not cause weight gain, rather help with weight loss in patients who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), besides other benefits.

2. Contraceptive pills cause acne and abnormal hair growth: Newer contraceptive pill formulations, with different progesterone components, reduce testosterone concentration and reduce the incidence of acne in patients with PCOS.

3. It is all right to miss a pill or two in the cycle: Missing pills during the cycle can lead to an unexpected pregnancy. Moreover, it can also cause spotting or mid-cycle bleeding. One must always consult a gynecologist if one or more pills have been missed, to learn about what all precautions need to be taken, and how to make sure unexpected pregnancies do not happen.

4. Contraceptive pills affect fertility: There is no evidence that contraceptive pills affect fertility in any way. They only prevent ovulation and pregnancies.

5. Birth control pills can be taken without prior evaluation or risk assessment: Birth control pills are generally safe, but some people who have certain risk factors like having a genetic tendency for blood clot formation, or those who are obese or who smoke, may not be suitable candidates for contraceptive pill use. Hence, one must always consult a doctor and get a risk evaluation before starting Oral Contraceptive Pills (OCP).

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