If you have never been on a hormonal method of birth control such as the birth control pill, or if you have never had an in depth conversation with your doctor about them- listen up!
Dr. Jennifer Owens is a family physician and the proud leader of the birth control information session at the Western University Health Clinic twice a week. The information sessions are an in depth look at hormonal contraceptives such as the birth control pill and other methods. Dr. Owens sits down with anywhere from two to fourteen female patients every Tuesday and Friday for an informal talk. It is everything you want to know about the pill. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Students are directed to the information session if they request birth control pills without having ever been on them before- but any student is welcome to attend and ask questions.
Dr. Owens starts off her sessions by playing a game of TRUE or FALSE.
Dr. Owens says, “Of all the things that I prescribe in my family practice, birth control methods seem to have the most myths that circulate around them.”
MYTH #1 – We have all heard it before- “birth control pills made me fat.” Actually, you would have gotten fat anyways.
Dr. Owens says, “Women are concerned about the potential for weight gain. And if you were to look into the side effects of the pill, it would tell you that their is a potential for weight gain or weight loss. But in actual fact, if you look at the research studies that are available now, a group of college-aged women on the pill and a group of college-aged women not on the pill, research shows that there is no significant difference in weight gain between the two groups.”
MYTH #2- The birth control pill will make me less fertile when I am ready to have kids. False.
Dr. Owens says, “I have women who come to see me who are reluctant to go on this birth control method because they are worried that at some point in the future, when they desire children, they won’t be able to achieve a pregnancy. But there is no evidence to suggest that there is permanent damage to the ovaries. It will not adversely effect your fertility in the future.”
Now that we have debunked the two most common myths; how does the birth control pill work to prevent pregnancy?
Dr. Owens explains that the pill stops the release of eggs. Even on the week that a woman does not take the pill to allow for her period to come, she can still safely have sex because for as long as she is on the pill (and using it properly of course) there will be no egg released for fertilization. On top of that, the birth control pill changes a woman’s cervical mucus (this is the point where most men will stop reading) making it thicker, which makes it more difficult for sperm to pass.
BIRTH CONTROL PILLS DO NOT PROTECT AGAINST SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS- USE A CONDOM.
Along with preventing unwanted pregnancies, the birth control pill is also commonly used by women who suffer from severe period cramps, heavy and long periods, irregular periods, and women who have hormonal acne.
There are of course, a long list of side effects that may occur when women are on the birth control pill. The birth control pill is not for everyone, and every woman reacts differently to hormones. If you are interested in learning more about the pill, and other hormonal methods of birth control (some that you probably didn’t even know existed) call the Western Health Clinic to sign up for Dr. Owens’ information session. If you are not a student at Western, speak to your family physician about information sessions available to you.