The truth about “the Pill” (1987)

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Truth/Rumor: When the topic is the Pill, they’re hard to separate.

It’s good for you. It’s bad for you. It causes cancer. It prevents cancer. It makes you more fertile. It makes you less fertile. You should get on it. You should get off it.

All the conflicting information floating around about the Pill is enough to make you contemplate abstinence. We recommend a far less drastic measure: educate yourself. Gather all the information you can from reliable sources and, together with your doctor, make the decision that’s right for you.

Here are a few facts to start you off. First, the Pill is actually many pills. Since its introduction in 1960, it’s evolved from one high dosage product into many much lower in dosage. From 150 mcgs of estrogen in 1960, down to 35 or less today. Yet, it’s still the most effective form of birth control available to you other than sterilization.

birth-control-pills-earlyWhat about the Pill and cancer? The Center for Disease Control has recently reported that women who took the Pill — even for 15 years — ran no higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t.

The CDC also reported that ovarian and uterine cancer are substantially less common among women who use oral contraceptives. In addition, Pill users are less likely to develop benign breast disease, pelvic inflammatory disease (tubal infections) and ovarian cysts.

One of the Pill’s greatest areas of misconception is conception. Does the Pill make you less fertile? Studies indicate that if you were fertile before you took the Pill, taking it should not affect your ability to have children later. However, some women may experience a short period of readjustment after discontinuing the Pill. Even so, they usually become pregnant soon.

Some women wonder if their bodies need an occasional rest from the Pill. The simple truth is, they don’t. And switching to a less effective form of birth control increases your chances for unplanned pregnancy. So much for giving your body a “rest.”

You’ve also probably heard that there are risks associated with taking the Pill. That is a fact. And you should know what those risks are. For example, if you are taking the Pill you should not smoke. Especially if you are over 35. Cigarette smoking is known to increase the risk of serious and possibly life-threatening adverse effects on the heart and blood vessels from Pill use. What’s more, women with certain conditions or medical histories should not use the Pill.

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Even if you’re already on the Pill, you should see your doctor at least once a year.

Decisions about birth control aren’t easy and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Moreover, they should be based on information from first-rate sources, not secondhand advice. If you’re a Pill user, read the patient information regularly. Learn everything you can about what you’re taking.

Whether you’re considering getting off the Pill or getting on it, the better informed you are, the better you’ll feel about your decision.

And that’s the truth.

[Advertisement] A message from the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals through an educational grant from Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation.

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