5 min read
by Toni Brannagan | 12/02/2021
For many people, the relationship they have with birth control can be complicated. There’s not really a standard manual folks get that educates them on the subject, which is a shame because a looooot of us spend many years trying to figure out which contraceptives work best for our bodies.
The lack of resources about contraception also means that—like many taboo subjects—misinformation runs rampant. You know we love debunking myths around here, but learning more about what we put into our bodies is also a crucial step in being an active participant in your healthcare.
(Plus, IDK about you but I love learning twenty years later that something some kid told me in middle school was just completely made up.)
Since hormonal birth control pills suppress ovulation, that fourth week in your pill pack, when you start your “period” isn’t actually menstruation at all — it’s withdrawal bleeding from the hormones that aren’t present in that fourth week of pills. This withdrawal bleeding isn’t necessary for the effectiveness of the birth control or your health.
So as long as you get the okay from your doctor, there are no negative health effects to skipping this week entirely, and moving straight to a new pill pack.
Okay, first of all, don’t put any cleaning materials in your vagina. Reminder: the vagina is a self-cleaning organ!
Back to the topic at hand, since sperm can travel into a uterus within minutes after being released, it is not possible to remove it by “cleaning” your vagina. While we’re on sperm-related fun facts (🥴), did you know that sperm can live up to 7 days inside a uterus? Y i k e s.
If you attended 8th grade at one point in your life, you’ve probably heard some version of “If you have sex standing up/upside down/in a hot tub,” you can’t get pregnant. As creative as this sounds, it is untrue. If sperm enters a vagina, there is a chance of pregnancy.
Similarly, it’s also unproven that there are sexual positions that are more likely to lead to pregnancy.
Okay, so technically, breastfeeding can serve as a form of birth control: It’s actually called lactational amenorrhea method of birth control or LAM, and can be effective up to 6 months postpartum.
Here’s the thing — using LAM effectively requires a specific routine. Your baby should be fed at least every 4 hours during the day, and every 6 hours at night, and in general, they should be fed exclusively by nursing (so no solids or supplementing with formula.) Also: pumping milk versus nursing can also make LAM ineffective. Bodies are really interesting.
Did you know that there are two types of hormonal birth control pills? The most common type of BC is the combination pill, which has two hormones: estrogen and progestin. If you take one of these pills every day within 24 hours, that will effectively protect you from pregnancy (with an effectiveness rate of 99% when taken perfectly).
The progestin pill, or mini mill, on the other hand, needs to be taken within a 3 hour window every day, which is where this myth came from.
According to Healthline, this common misconception comes from the messy development of early birth control. For example, many trials were performed without taking anecdotal side effects into consideration, which has affected people’s trust of contraception decades later.
The truth is that over time, more resources have been devoted to safely and thoroughly developing birth control, and the risks are more well known. Infertility isn’t one of them. In fact, by alleviating the symptoms of endometriosis and balancing out your hormones, hormonal birth control can actually be preventative in some cases.
It’s always a good idea to thoroughly research any medications you’re considering taking, as well as talking it through with your doc. Contraception isn’t one size fits all, and finding what works for you might take a second — and there’s nothing wrong with that! Listen to the signs your body sends you when starting any new form of birth control, and be sure to communicate with your doctor in advance about any potential side effects you may experience.
Have you ever been surprised to learn something about using contraception? Share what we missed in the comments!
Toni Brannagan is a writer and was the former Copy and Content Manager at Thinx.
by Toni Brannagan