There are plenty of myths and misconceptions surrounding contraception and sexual health, so we've enlisted the help of Dr. Caroline Cooper, Sexual Health Specialist to help clear these up.
Myth: You can only have an IUS/IUD fitted if you have had a baby
Fact: The IUS/IUD is also suitable for those women who’ve not given birth but are looking for reliable long-acting contraception. For an experienced fitter, intrauterine contraception is no more difficult to fit in women who have not had children than they are in those who have given birth.
Myth: You can fall pregnant during the week that you don’t take the Pill
Fact: As long as you start your next pill packet after the seven day break, you are protected. If you don’t start your packet again in time or miss pills during the first week of your new pack, you may need to use emergency contraception.
Myths: The Pill makes you put on weight
Fact: Some women find hormones give them a bigger appetite and if you eat more you will gain weight. However the hormones themselves do not cause weight gain and if women do find their appetite increases, there are lots of other options of contraception methods which may be better suited. Some women may notice they put on a couple of pounds due to fluid retention.
Myths: It takes time for your fertility to return after stopping taking the Pill
Fact: As soon as you stop using the Pill your fertility should return to normal, however the bleeds you have are not a real period, so whether you are fertile or not the pill will give you a regular “bleed”. However a minority of women will have underlying fertility issues which can be masked by the pill producing a regular monthly bleed.
Myth: Extra hormones are bad for you and it’s good to have a break from hormonal contraception
Fact: If you use hormonal contraception it suppresses your own natural hormones. This causes you to experience a lower dose of hormones overall.
Myth: You have to have a period
Fact: If you use hormonal contraception any period you have will be an artificial one. It is fine not to have a period as the hormones keep the lining of the womb thin, the lining will not continue to build up over time.
Myth: There is no difference between the IUD and IUS (hormonal and copper coil)
Fact: The IUD (copper coil) is hormone free - the copper in the coil is toxic to sperm. It can however, make periods heavier and longer. The IUS (hormonal coil) releases a low dose of progesterone into the womb and can make periods lighter.
Myth: If you have heavy periods you have to just put up with them
Fact: Heavy periods can affect women very negatively, both emotionally and physically, in some cases it can cause anaemia. There are both hormonal and non-hormonal treatments.
Myth: If you have a LARC fitted you are stuck with it until it is no longer effective
Fact: The IUS/IUD and implant can be removed by a healthcare professional at any time. However with the injection, you have to wait until the hormones have left your body naturally which may take up to one year after your last injection.
Myth: You can’t use contraception after giving birth
Fact: Women are fertile three weeks after giving birth if they are not breastfeeding, so women should make sure they are using contraception. Most forms of contraception are suitable for a new mother, however breastfeeding women should not use contraception containing oestrogen in the first 6 months after delivery.
Myth: The Pill is the best contraceptive option for women who want to have a /another baby as you can stop taking it when it suits you
Fact: The Pill is a good option for women who may want to stop using contraception in the near future but so is the IUS/IUD and implant as they can be removed at any time and fertility quickly returns to normal. The injection normally takes around 5 months before fertility returns.
Myth: You don’t have to use contraception as much as you get older because you become less fertile
Fact: It is true that fertility decreases with age but it’s untrue that you don’t have to use contraception as you get older. Abortion statistics from 2010 confirm that as women get older there is still a need for contraceptives; while levels of teenage abortions decreased between 2009 -2010, those in their 20s, 30s and 40s showed an increase4which shows how important it is for women to continue to use contraception as they get older.
Myth: As soon as you start the menopause you are no longer fertile
Fact: Women start to become less fertile during the perimenopause, which can go on for many months, so it’s important to use contraception. We advise women under 50 to use contraception for two years after their last period and for women over 50 to use contraception for one year after their last period.
Myth: Using hormonal contraception will exacerbate menopausal issues such as hot flushes
Fact: That is not the case at all, hormonal contraception containing oestrogen can help with menopausal issues as it is the decreasing levels of oestrogen that is often the cause of menopausal issues such as hot flushes.