The truth and myths about oral contraceptives
The first contraceptive pill appeared in 1960. At the time, it allowed making conscious decisions about when is the best time to have children. Today, many women choose combined oral contraceptives (COCs) both to prevent unwanted pregnancies and for non-contraceptive reasons.
Here are 5 facts about COCs.
COC is the most common form of hormonal contraception in the world
Oral contraceptives are the most popular form of hormonal contraception. According to statistics, they are used by over 100 million women worldwide to prevent unplanned pregnancies. In Asia, 47 million women use COC, followed by Europe - 22 million. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 15 million women use this method of contraception, in Africa - 12 million, in North America - 7 million.
COCs have non-contraceptive benefits
In addition to effective protection against unwanted pregnancies, oral contraceptives have proven non-contraceptive benefits. They help to reduce thick menstrual blood loss and pain, normalize the emotional background before menstruation, and improve the condition of the skin with acne.
According to a study from the United States, 58% of women use this method not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but also to:
● 31% - reduce menstrual pain;
● 28% - regulate the menstrual cycle;
● 14% - cure acne.
COCs do not affect weight gain
In the course of modern research, no сonnection has been found between taking combined oral contraceptives and weight gain.The myth of the appearance of extra pounds when taking COCs is associated with the use of the first oral contraceptives, which contained high dosages of active substances. Weight fluctuations depend on a number of factors, including dietary changes, physical activity, illness, stress, lifestyle, hormones, and more. In addition, weight increases with age, regardless of the use of any contraceptive.
Modern COCs contain low doses of active substances, and when they are taken, a weight fluctuation of 0.5-2 kg is permissible. The female hormone estrogen, which is part of COCs, can interfere with the elimination of fluid from the body. So sometimes weight gain can be due to fluid retention rather than an increase in the fat layer. But some modern contraceptives contain a substance that promotes the elimination of excess fluid, and when taken, you can even lose weight.
If the weight fluctuates greatly during the first months of taking COCs, you should inform your doctor in order to establish the cause in time.
COCs do not cause facial and body hair growth
This myth, like the previous one, appeared at the stage of the emergence of the first COCs. They contained high doses of imperfect hormones, which led to the appearance of facial and body hair in women. Despite the fact that the hormones that make up modern COCs have been significantly improved, this myth still frightens some of the ladies.The condition of the skin is affected by hormonal levels or sensitivity to male hormones produced by the female body in small quantities. Acne, greasy skin, hair loss on the head, or, on the contrary, increased hair growth on the face and body may indicate a problem. Modern COCs prevent unwanted pregnancies and improve the condition of the skin and hair. It is necessary to contact a gynecologist for the selection of COCs on an individual basis.
Upon completion of COC use, the ability to conceive is restored
Planning a pregnancy is natural, so it is important that COCs do not adversely affect fertility once they are finished. According to the results of a study that was conducted in various European countries, 21% of women become pregnant one month after the end of taking contraceptives, 47% - after 3 months, 79% - during the year. Thus, these indicators are comparable to the onset of pregnancy in the majority of women who did not use COCs.
In addition, it must be borne in mind that at the end of taking oral contraceptives, the ovaries begin to work in an enhanced mode, which increases the likelihood of getting pregnant in the first months after cancellation. So if you want to take a break from taking your pills, but are not planning a pregnancy, use other methods of contraception.