5. Myth: The emergency contraceptive pill is a reliable form of birth control.
Truth: Emergency contraception is not fail proof. Many other forms of contraception are more effective, and emergency contraceptive should only be used as a backup.
Emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), or the morning after pill, is a way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or when another method of birth control fails. It works by giving your body a high dose of hormones that disrupts ovulation, prevents fertilization or disallows the fertilized egg to attach to the uterus wall. If you vomit immediately after taking the ECP, it may not be effectively absorbed into your body and you might need another dose—check the instructions or consult a doctor.
Emergency contraceptive pills are effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, but as time increases, the effectiveness decreases. It is recommended you take the ECP as soon as possible. For many brands, the pill can be up to 95 percent effective in preventing pregnancy within 24 hours of having unprotected sex, but a woman who relies on the ECP for birth control over the course of a year has a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant, even when taken promptly and properly. The ECP should not be a replacement for the birth control pill or other forms of conventional birth control.
6. Myth: Birth control pills can protect you from STIs.
Truth: Birth control pills only protect against pregnancy, when used properly.
Most birth control pills work by disrupting ovulation, so that during intercourse there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. This leaves no barrier to block out STIs, which can all be transferred even if you are on the birth control pill, including HIV/AIDS, herpes, chlamydia, etc. See Mochi’s rundown of the most common STIs for more details.
7. Myth: As soon as you start taking birth control pills, they will start protecting you.
Truth: Birth control pills can take up to seven days to become effective.
If you are just starting to take birth control pills or are switching between different kinds of pills, it can take seven days for the regimen to effectively prevent pregnancy. For the first week, you should also use another method of birth control, like condoms, or you’ll still risk pregnancy.
If you skip a pill, be sure to use backup birth control until your next cycle, as the birth control pill regimen will be rendered less effective. Also, be cautious if you’re sick—if the pill is vomited out before it is fully absorbed into your body, or if you’re on certain antibiotics, the birth control pill will also be less effective. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are on the pill and consult your gynecologist.
8. Myth: You can use someone else’s birth control pills.
Truth: You should only use birth control pills prescribed specifically for you.
You need a prescription to get birth control pills for a reason. A doctor or medical professional should always assess if your body is suited for birth control, based on your medical history. There are certain conditions that may make the pill less effective or even dangerous to take—if you smoke, for example. And just because you’ve been approved for birth control in the past doesn’t mean it is okay to take birth control now. Your medical condition can change with time. There are also several types and brands of birth control pills, including the “combination” pill (a combination of progesterone and estrogen) and the “mini” pill (low-dose progesterone), and your doctor can help you figure out which is best for you.