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6 Myths around contraception, debunked

Following World Contraception Day, we bust some myths and highlight the facts. It goes without saying that contraception is not something to take lightly, as misunderstandings or mistakes can change your life irreversibly.

With that in mind, here are some common contraception myths:

I’m breastfeeding so I can’t get pregnant.

Not entirely true. While there’s certainly less of a chance of you falling pregnant while you’re breastfeeding (for a limited time period of around six months after birth), it’s definitely not a complete form of contraception – so don’t depend on it. Various factors influence its effectiveness, including whether you’re having a menstrual cycle once again or whether you’re exclusively breastfeeding or supplementing with formula.

Other medication won’t affect my contraception

When you take two or more medicines at the same time, one of them can alter the effect of the other. This is known as an interaction, and it can dilute the effectiveness of the Pill, patches and other forms of contraception. While further research still needs to be done on which exact drugs this includes, if you’re prescribed antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-retrovirals, anti-seizure drugs or weight loss drugs, these could all affect your contraception medication. Check with your doctor and if necessary, use additional contraception over the time, such as condoms, while you’re on other medication.

Birth control prevents STIs

While condoms certainly are a good measure to reduce your risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), they’re not foolproof. This is because some STIs like herpes can exist on parts of the genitals that condoms don’t cover. Bear in mind too, that IUDs and the Pill won’t protect you against STIs at all.

The Pill starts working as soon as I use it

Unfortunately not – you’re not immediately protected after you’ve popped your first capsule. Instead, it can take up to one week for the hormones in the Pill to start affecting your hormones and prevent ovulation. Check with your doctor about the specifics for the contraceptive that you are intending to use. If you’re thinking of going onto a form of contraceptive, some medical aid programmes offer these paid from Risk on certain plans. Fedhealth does this, so you can choose from oral contraception, contraceptive rings, contraceptive patches and certain contraceptive injections as well as IUDs (including the Mirena®).

Birth control will affect my long-term fertility

While it can take a while for your fertility to return after stopping hormonal birth control like the Pill, patch and implant, there is no evidence that contraception affects your fertility over the long term. However, factors like age and stress can have an impact on your chances of falling pregnant, so you should take all of these into account if you’ve having fertility issues.

People over 40 don’t need birth control

While your chances of falling pregnant decline over the age of 35, this doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Until a woman has gone through menopause and not had a period for 12 months, she can still fall pregnant. Your doctor will be able to provide further guidance on your fertility and contraception needs. This is different for males, whose fertility remains well into their 60s, 70s and even older.

Remember that it’s your body and your choices – so if you don’t want to fall pregnant, then discuss your contraception options with your doctor so you can find the best solution for your specific lifestyle and needs.

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