Top myths about birth control pill: Everything you need to know originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
September 26 marks World Contraception Day, a day to improve awareness of contraceptive methods and "enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health," according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Here are 10 myths debunked about one of the most common contraceptive methods, birth control pills.
As the battle over reproductive rights rages on, understanding the basics of birth control is important. But it is also confusing, especially with the many myths surrounding the pill.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent, said the most important thing to understand about using the pill is that you're not putting anything new in your body.
"A lot of times, I'll hear women say, 'I don't want to take the pill because I don't want to put hormones in my body,'" she told "GMA." "Those hormones are already in our bodies."
In fact, birth control pills contain a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin, which a woman's body already makes. These hormones override the signals from a woman's brain to her ovaries and suppress the ovulation process.
"GMA" sat down with Ashton to debunk other myths about the pill and to learn about its other uses.
Myth No. 1: You have to start the pill on the first Sunday after your period.
The idea of starting your period on a specific day of the week doesn't make sense since your body doesn't know what day of the week it is.
Ashton often tells her patients to start on the second day of bleeding, regardless of what day of the week it is.
Myth No. 2: You get your period on the pill.
Bleeding on the pill is not called a period, it's called a withdrawal bleed or breakthrough bleeding. If you're getting a period on the pill, your birth control is not working to prevent pregnancies.
Myth No. 3: All pills are the same.
All pills are not created equally. It's important to read the packaging of the pill you've been prescribed to understand the doses of estrogen and progestin.
Myth No. 4: Your body needs a break from being on birth control, especially before you get pregnant.
There is no minimum or maximum time period for being on the pill. If you choose to get off the pill, those hormones are out of your system within days and your brain starts communicating with your ovaries.
Myth No. 5: The pill is perfect for every woman.
The pill is not for everyone. Some women react to pills differently than others. Other women don't take the pill for medical reasons. It is different for everyone. It is not a one-size-fits-all experience.
Myth No. 6: It doesn't matter what time you take the pill. As long as you take it every day, you're fine.
The body's hormonal levels fluctuate every hour and every day. The pill works by suppressing those signals from brain to ovaries and from the ovaries to the uterus. The hormone levels from the pill have to be maintained and to do so, it's important to take the pill at roughly the same time everyday.
Myth No. 7: The pill makes acne worse.
Well, yes and no. There can be an initial flare up when you first start taking the pill. That is normal and is part of the hormonal signals.
The acne will get worse before it gets better. Down the road, your skin will be better on the pill than off the pill.
Myth No. 8: I was on the pill in the past and hated it. I don't want to get on it again.
Your symptoms to the pill in the past will be different from what it could be for you now. Try different pills, doses and formulations to find the pill that is right for you.
Myth No. 9: I can smoke and take the pill.
No. It increases the risk of thrombotic events. It is dangerous and it is playing with your life.
Myth No. 10: I'll gain a lot of weight on the pill.
Significant weight gain is uncommon with birth control pills. Women gain an average of 1 to 2 pounds while on the pill.
This report was originally published on Sept. 4, 2019.