I still remember watching an episode of 16 & Pregnant where the tiny blond chick with a promising future in gymnastics gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby. She couldn’t have been more than 5 feet tall, 100 pounds on a day full of nothing but ingesting fatty carbs, and when her mom asks her why she didn’t want to go on the pill, she blames the prospect of weight gain.
“I didn’t want to get fat,” she says shyly. Then together, mother and daughter look in the full-length mirror at her 8-month-along pregnant belly and laugh uncontrollably.
But the tiny blond chick isn’t alone. In fact, she is representative of the vast majority of sexually active women. One of the most common reasons women don’t go on birth control pills is that, like her, they “don’t want to get fat.” This widespread and intense fear of putting on a few pounds can actually dictate women’s choices about their reproductive health.
In the event that a young woman decides she doesn’t want to take birth control pills and subsequently avoids all other protection — whether voluntarily or by accident — this decision could very possibly result in an unintended pregnancy. In that case, her initial aversion to contraceptives as a control choice is rendered invalid; in short, she’s going to gain weight anyway: She’s pregnant.
Putting on a bit of weight is hardly the sole reason some women opt not to take birth control. Women cite many different reasons for avoiding contraceptives. Below, HelloFlo debunks common reasons why some women choose to avoid birth control pills.
Reason No. 1: “I don’t want to get fat”
Weight gain was, once upon a time, a genuine concern for women on the pill. But this specific side effect is characteristic of earlier versions of oral contraceptives. Nowadays, weight gain is no longer a legitimate side effect for pills that contain progesterone and estrogen, though rumor still seems to perpetuate this idea.
Reason No. 2: “It might make me depressed”
Birth control screws with your hormones — that’s what it’s meant to do, as it uses estrogen and progesterone (or a combination of the two) to suppress ovulation. They thicken the cervical mucus, which makes it nearly impossible for sperm to pass into the cervix, therefore blocking pregnancy. But a potential repercussion of voluntarily altering your hormone levels is a fluctuation in your natural hormonal balance, which could result in depression. For women taking birth control, the risk of developing depression increases by 10 percent.
Reason No. 3: “Birth control causes cancer”
It’s true taking oral contraceptive pills raises a person’s risk for developing certain kinds of cancer, like breast cancer. By the same token, it’s also true that taking oral contraceptive pills lowers a person’s risk for developing other kinds of cancer, like ovarian and uterine.
Reason No. 4: “I don’t want to put chemicals in my body”
We’ve all heard at least one female friend say it: “My body needs a break.” Being exposed to any sort of chemicals or hormones runs its risk, but the validity of “giving your body a break” is often disputed by specialists. Birth control works on the daily; it doesn’t build up in your body over time. As soon as a person ceases taking birth control, hormones leave the system and a person is susceptible to pregnancy.
Reason No. 5: “I’m not at risk for getting pregnant”
Two of the top three reasons women don’t use contraceptives include “a misjudged risk for pregnancy” and “infrequent intercourse.” In fact, 36 percent of women who experience unplanned pregnancies cite their reason for not using birth control as “thinking they couldn’t get pregnant,” an excuse that proper, informative sex education could clear up. As far as “infrequent intercourse” as a justification, sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Originally published on HelloFlo.