Contraception 101 for Newlyweds

Lost in between the Pill, Condoms and Emergency Contraceptives?


Contraceptive Pills

There are many myths around the use of the pill. When seeing a couple for counseling prior to marriage, contraception is usually on the top of the queries. Unfortunately, relatives and friends volunteer to offer information about the pill, which are based on wrong old beliefs. Things I commonly hear from patients are that the pill causes infertility; or disturbs the body hormones with a long lasting effect. They can cause cancer, could be breast or ovarian cancer. They cause excessive growth of body hair and so on.

The most common Pill Myths:

Weight gain

Some women seem to gain weight on the pill, but research has shown that it isn’t due to pill usage. The estrogen in the pill can make some women feel bloated, but this typically goes away. The progestin found in the pill may increase appetite, resulting in weight gain. Also, some women may experience water retention; which can often be reduced by switching to a lower dose pill. Women often begin using the pill during a time of life that happens to coincide with weight changes, thus giving the pill an unfair reputation for causing weight gain.

The Pill is not safe and causes birth defects

The pill has not been linked to any type of birth defects. Even if accidentally taken in the early weeks of pregnancy during the period of organogenesis (formation of the organs of the baby).The pill is one of the world’s most researched and prescribed medications. As with any medication, certain health risks are linked to pill use, but serious side effects are rare. It is actually safer to use the pill than to have a baby.About 100 million women worldwide use the pill. For many women, their quality of life is better while taking the pill than when they are not. That’s because the pill also provides health benefits, like minimizing PMS symptoms. The pill has been proven as an extremely safe contraceptive.

No need for a break from the pill once in a while

Experts say the pill can be taken for 15 or more years consecutively without any increased risk. However, doctors do advise reviewing contraceptive needs after 10 years of pill taking or at the age of 35. The pill is one of the most effective contraceptives, so taking a break from it may increase your risk of getting pregnant if you’re sexually active. In fact, it’s possible to get pregnant immediately after going off the pill. Taking a break can also cause some of the side effects that can be felt when first starting the pill.

Pills and fertility

Fertility can return almost immediately after stopping the pill, which is why it’s important not to miss any pills. Some women may face a delay in becoming pregnant after stopping pill use, especially if they had irregular periods before starting it. Women using the pill may delay childbearing until their late 30s, a time when natural fertility has waned, thereby confusing pill use as the cause for not becoming pregnant rather than age. Also, a woman may have always had a fertility problem but was unaware of it because she was not trying to get pregnant. Some women may experience a period of amenorrhea (not having periods) after longterm use of the pill. The periods usually recur within 6-12 months.

The pill causes cancer

Contrary to that belief it has been shown that women who use the pill are 1/3 less likely to get ovarian or uterine cancer than those who don’t. Protection against these cancers increases with each year of use and can last up to 30 years after ending pill use some experts advice that all women use the pill for at least 5 years, solely for ovarian cancer protection (especially women with strong family histories of ovarian cancer). Most experts believe that the pill doesn’t cause any type of cancer. Recent research suggests that the pill has little if any effect on causing breast cancer and that taking estrogen before menopause doesn’t predispose women to breast cancer.

Emergency Contraception:

This is a method of contraception used before the menstruation is missed as an emergency procedure to prevent pregnancy following unprotected intercourse. It can be used when expecting failure of contraceptive method like slippage of condom, bursting of condom, forgotten to take two or more contraceptive pills, premature ejaculation in couples practicing coitus interruputs. When unprotected isolated intercourse happens at some odd moments with couples otherwise using conventional contraceptives. It can be used as well in cases of rapes and incest. The method should be reserved for emergency situations and should not be used as an ongoing method of contraception on regular basis. This is so because of relatively high failure rate and high incidences of irregular bleeding.

How effective is the ‘Morning after Pill’?

When you have sex without birth control, your risk of becoming pregnant depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle. During your most fertile days, midway between two menstrual periods, the risk of becoming pregnant could be as high as 30%.

What are the side effects of the ‘Morning after Pill’?

Common side effects during MAP treatment are nausea or vomiting. Less common are headache, breast tenderness, dizziness, and fluid retention. For most women the MAP is a simple and safe option for reducing the chance of pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. However, you need to consult your doctor if you should experience any of the following symptoms; severe abdominal pain, severe chest pain cough, or shortness of breath, severeheadache, dizziness, weakness, or numbness, vision loss or blurring, speech problems, severe leg pain (calf or thigh).About 50% of women will have a period within a week of taking the MAP. Most of the remaining 50% will menstruate within 21 days. Remember that your next menstrual period may be irregular and heavy. If you do not get your period after three weeks, it will be important to do a pregnancy test.


Condoms stop sperm from reaching an egg by creating a physical barrier between them. Condoms can also protect against STIs if used correctly during vaginal, anal and oral sex. If used correctly every time you have sex, male condoms are 98% effective. This means that 2 out of 100 women using male condoms as contraception will become pregnant in one year. Oil-based products, such as moisturizer, lotion and Vaseline, can make latex condoms less effective, but they are safe to use with condoms made from polyurethane or polyisoprene. Water-based lubricants, available in pharmacies and sexual health clinics, are safe to use with all condoms, including latex ones. It’s possible for a condom to slip off during sex. If this happens, you may need emergency contraception. Condoms need to be stored in places that aren’t too hot or cold, and away from sharp or rough surfaces that could tear them or wear them away. If you’re sensitive to latex, you can use polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms instead.  Condoms have a use-by date on the packaging. Don’t use out-of-date condoms.

Can anything make condoms less effective?

Sperm can sometimes get into the vagina during sex even when using a condom. This may happen if: the penis touches the area around the vagina before a condom is put on, the condom splits or comes off, the condom gets damaged by sharp fingernails or jewelry, using oil-based lubricants, such as lotion, baby oil or petroleum jelly or if you are using medication such as creams, or suppositories, this can damage latex condoms and stop them from working properly.





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