Birth control pills are thought to be the most effective and convenient way to delay or postpone a pregnancy. However, there is always some anxiety attached to the same. Many women harbour a lot of misconceptions regarding birth control pills. Here we shed some light on some of the most frequently asked (or thought of) questions about birth control pills:

Anyone can take a birth control pill over the counter without proper medical consultation 

This is true to some extent. Women who do not suffer from any prior health issues can opt to take birth control pills on their own. ‘However, for others who suffer from lifestyle related ailments like diabetes, hypertension or have thyroid problems, it is better to consult a doctor before opting for birth control pills rather than taking them over the counter,’ says Dr Anjali Talwalkar, consultant gynecologist, Kohinoor hospital, Mumbai.

Apart from this, women who suffer from any liver disorder or have coagulation issues should refrain from taking birth control pills without a detailed consultation with a doctor or healthcare provider. ‘There could be a possibility of adverse consequences if a woman is already on prior medications and start birth control pills without any consultation,’ she advises.

Birth control pills can make one lose or gain weight

Most birth control pills are a combination of two doses –estrogen and progesterone. High doses of estrogen can lead to water retention and bloating which is referred to as weight gain when the weight scales shows that the numbers are escalating. ‘The modern day pills have low doses of the hormones to help women stay away from its side-effects. But with some women who have altered metabolism due to lifestyle oriented disease like obesity, birth control pill can cause such side-effects. However, these are marginal issues that can be controlled by selecting the right dose by a doctor,’ says Dr Talwalkar.

Birth control pills can affect one’s fertility

The fact is, even low doses of hormones present in the pills can help restore erratic hormonal imbalances and aid fertility. ‘While planning a baby it is important to wait at least for two to three months after discontinuation of the pill to confirm a pregnancy. However, one should also garner some patience as at times it can also take up to six months to conceive after discontinuation of the pills,’ opines Dr Talwalkar.

Prolonged use of birth control pills can lead to various side-effects

The most common side-effects of the birth control pills are bloating, weight gain, nausea, headache and mood swings. However, one should understand that these are temporary changes that settle with time. ‘The newer versions of the birth control pills have very low doses of the hormones and usually do not result into any side-effects. These side-effects were more common with the older pills than the new ones.

Moreover, there are various kinds of pills present in the market today. If the so-called side-effects persist for long, one should report about the same to the doctor. A change in the dose can help one deal with the symptoms better,’ says Dr Talwalkar. In the general scenario, it takes around three months for the symptoms to settle when one starts to take birth control pills.

Birth control pills might affect one’s menstruation and delay periods

There is very less evidence to support the same. ‘But birth control pills can in one way or the other affect or alter your cycles. On the other hand, with birth control pills one can also experience hormonal corrections if any existed previously, and start to have regular periods. Talk to your doctor if you experience change in your cycles of pattern of periods after taking birth control pills to be on the safer side,’ says Dr Talwalkar.

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