An estimated 47 million pregnancies occur each year in India, out of which 45 per cent are unintended, according to a Lancet report published in 2018. One of the major reasons for such a statistic is people till today struggle with myths and misconceptions around contraception choices available to prevent unintended pregnancies.
Couples mostly rely on secondary research or false notions which discourages them from using different methods of contraceptives. Here are some of the most common myths and misconceptions associated with contraception:
Myth #1 Prolonged use of contraception can cause infertility
Fact #1 Contrary to popular belief, contraceptives do not cause infertility. In India, condoms, tablets, vaginal rings, contraceptive injections, implants and intrauterine devices are among the most popular birth control techniques. All these approaches are reversible. If a woman wants to get pregnant, she can just stop using them and start the procedure.
Infertility, on the other hand, is a condition where a woman is unable to conceive after 12 months or more of frequent unprotected sexual intercourse. The condition affects millions of people and couples around the world. Infertility can be caused by a variety of factors, like genetic condition, hormonal imbalance among others.
Myths #2 Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive methods cause menstrual problems
Fact #2 Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are birth control methods that provide effective contraception for a long period without the need for user intervention. Injections, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and subdermal contraceptive implants are a few examples.
Truth is that changes in menstrual cycle or flow can vary depending on the type of LARC being used. When using LARC, some women have lighter and reduced cycles when using LARC and welcome this change. Some women who continue to have a period may prefer this, even though it may be heavier in some women. Correct information about the available options can assist an individual in making the best decision as per their needs. There is a growing need to include reversible contraceptives like implants as part of India's family planning strategy, with a focus on women's health.
Myth #3: Weight gain, mood fluctuations, and pelvic inflammatory disease are among side effects of contraception
Fact #3 One of the most widespread misconceptions about contraception is that it causes weight gain. The truth is that there is no scientific evidence that hormonal birth control causes weight gain. It may differ from one person to the next. Many young women allege that birth control is to blame for their weight gain. Because many women start birth control at a time when their bodies are changing, it's easy to blame such changes on birth control. If you're still concerned about gaining weight while on hormonal birth control, talk to your doctor. Copper IUDs, for example, are a nonhormonal birth control option that could be a suitable option.
Myth #4 Prolonged use of contraceptives can impact a women's ability to bear child in long-term
Fact #4: Contraceptives only help in preventing pregnancy, it does not have any adverse impact on one's child-bearing capability. It's not something to be afraid of, and you can discuss any concerns you have with your gynecologist in greater detail so that you know your future pregnancy plans won't be challenged by contraception.
Myth #5: Contraceptive Implants cannot be removed before the due date
Fact #5 Contraceptive implants are inserted sub-dermally just under the skin at the inner side of the non-dominant upper arm. They are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. The progestins in the implant rods are slowly released into the woman's bloodstream. Progestins are like the hormone progesterone, which is naturally generated by a woman's body. Implants prevent pregnancy as soon as they are placed. They endure up to 3 years, depending on the type of implant, but can be withdrawn at any moment. Fertility is restored as soon as the implant is removed.
Birth control measures are ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies. They may include some method, medicine, or device used to prevent pregnancy. All are effective, but which one to choose entirely depends on one's need and comfort.
Everyone's body is different, and our bodies also change over time. Many people try a few different types of birth control before finding the right one for them. It is always better to consult a doctor before adopting contraception. They can guide you on what to expect based on your personal medical history.
(Dr. Meenakshi Ahuja, Director, Obg, Fortis La Femme, Academic Secretary, Delhi Gynae Forum)
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