According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are thousands of prescription meds on the market, but when you say “the Pill,” people know exactly the drug you mean, which just shows how popular birth control pills are. In fact, it’s the contraceptive women ages 15 to 29 reach for the most. The Pill is 92 percent effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy and even has some health benefits. Oral contraceptives help protect women against ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer, and the protection lasts 15 or more years after you stop taking the Pill, according to the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
There some pervasive myths about oral contraceptives. SELF tapped Alyssa Dweck, M.D., assistant clinical professor of obstetrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and co-author of V is For Vagina, to clear up some common misconceptions about the popular pill.
1. The Pill causes weight gain
It would be nice to blame those unwanted 10 pounds on the birth control pill, but oral contraceptives aren’t likely the culprit. “Some women go on the Pill in their late teens and will gain weight anyway, and they associate the two,” says Dweck. Or they start the Pill when they head off to college and their eating habits change (think: chips, pizza, and beer for dinner) leading to putting on a few pounds. That said, some women gain water weight from the Pill. “But if you’re gaining 15 pounds, it’s not the Pill,” Dweck says.