8 pill and contraception myths busted by an expert

·Features and Health Editor
·5-min read

More than 2.5 million Australian women between the ages of 18 and 49 use some form of contraception and yet there are still so many myths and plenty of misinformation around about the topic.

The pill remains the highest used method of contraception at 44.5 per cent, and with the recent release of Slinda, a new progesterone mini pill, it's likely the old Dr Google will again be taking a few consults.

contraceptive pills
The pill remains the most used method of contraception. Photo: Getty

But, as Brisbane-based Pharmacist and Youly ambassador Nick Pearson warns, it's so important to find 'reliable sources' and be able to separate fact from fiction.

"The internet is a fantastic place to do your research but there are a lot of sites that give information that is just plain wrong," Nick tells Yahoo Lifestyle. 

"It can be difficult to find reliable sources and there are an immeasurable number of sites and forums where people share their individual experience, which tends to be the worst-case scenarios. 

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"Your doctor, pharmacist, and reliable health-based websites like Youly are the best place to get accurate information that is relevant to you."

To help clear up some of the misinformation that you might have heard before, here Nick has debunked some common myths about contraception.

Close-up of young woman's hand holding birth control pills
There are plenty of pill myths out there that need busting. Photo: Getty

The pill is effective straight after you begin taking it

"This isn’t as easy as saying yes or no! The method of commencing changes between all pills with some combined oral contraceptives (COCs) being active from day one onwards. 

Some progestin only pills (POP or mini pill) can be effective after only 48 hours, whereas others have to be started on the first day of a women’s natural period to be effective straight away. 

If these methods of commencing aren’t possible, the general rule is to take one active pill daily (not the sugar pills) for seven consecutive days before full cover will be obtained. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to commence any new pill and the details around when it will be effective.

Missing one pill doesn't matter

"Missing one pill can make all the difference. The increased risk of contraceptive failure occurring is dependent on where you are in your current cycle. 

If the pill is missed and not taken within the window allowed by the particular pill (generally anywhere from three to 12 hours), seven active tablets in a row must be taken before full contraceptive effectiveness returns. 

If you are unsure on how to manage a missed pill, it is best to talk to your doctor or pharmacist who can guide you through what to do in accordance with the medication you’re taking.

birth-control pill with date of calendar background, health care and medicine concept
The Combined Oral Contraceptive has a 12-hour window. Photo: Getty

You must take your pill at the exact same time everyday

The routine of taking your pill at the same time everyday is important to maintain effectiveness. 

The Combined Oral Contraceptive has a 12-hour window in which you can remember to take it whereas until recently, the only mini-pills on the market had to be taken within three hours of the regular time making them far less convenient. 

Newer progestin only pills now have a 24-hour window in which to take it whilst still maintaining full effectiveness.

The Morning After Pill is the same as an abortion

Myth! The Morning After Pill works before fertilisation or implantation occurs and is therefore not the same as an abortion. 

Emergency contraception works by stopping or delaying the release of an egg from your ovaries and may also stop the sperm from reaching the egg in the first place. If the sperm has already fertilised the egg, the Morning After Pill will not work – this is why it is important to take the pill as soon as you can (and within 72 hours). 

You can’t have IUDs or Contraceptive Implants taken out if they aren’t working for you

False. This is not true and is actually one of the biggest benefits of the IUD and Implant over the depot injectable version. Whilst it is not as simple as stopping a tablet, it is a relatively minor procedure for your doctor or gynaecologist to remove either IUDs or implants if they don’t suit you and your body.

IUDs can fall out

This is a relatively rare possibility, but it can happen. If an IUD is going to fall out, it generally happens within the first few months of insertion. 

IUDs have a short string attached which can be felt internally so if you are concerned about the device falling out, you can feel for this string. If it can’t feel it, it is recommended that other methods of contraception are used until you could see your doctor for confirmation that the IUD is still in place.

IUD (Intrauterine Device) Birth Control
Having an IUD fall out is extremely rare. Photo: Getty

If you use contraception for a long time, you will struggle to get pregnant

Most women will return to normal cycles within one to two months after ceasing contraception with pregnancy possible from this time onwards, unless you have other external health concerns.

It’s unhealthy to skip your period on birth control

There is no risk in skipping your period on the pill. Some pills are better for skipping periods than others however the seven sugar tablets were really only included in the original pills as researchers thought (probably incorrectly) that women would prefer to have a cycle each month. 

The sugar pills are still there to help with the routine of taking a pill each day, but many women choose to skip these tablets for months on end. 

There is a small risk of break through bleeding occurring when doing this, however no harmful side effect. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions on how this can be done.

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