Medical Concerns with Birth Control – What You need to Be Asking When Using Any Form of Birth Control

Medical Concerns with Birth Control – What You need to Be Asking When Using Any Form of Birth Control

Medical Concerns with Birth Control – What You need to Be Asking When Using Any Form of Birth Control

Birth control gets a bad rap. Your mom remembers the risks associated with pills she took decades ago. Headlines blare out alarming stats. And the rumor mill — your friends, yoga teacher, Facebook feed — perpetuates the fear. With the help of Cosmopolitan, we discuss the actual risks of hormonal contraception (and our non-hormonal variant) which are real but rarer than you'd think.


1)      Can a hormonal birth control pill raise my risk of heart attack?

Recently, the Internet exploded with stories touting the findings from a New England Journal of Medicine study that suggested oral contraceptives containing both oestrogen and progestin could increase a woman's risk for a heart attack or stroke by as much as 80 percent, possibly because of estrogenic content. But context is everything. Even if you're on a combination pill, your risk for stroke or heart attack is still 100 times less than 1 percent if you're young and have no additional risk factors. These large, in-depth studies should give women some peace of mind because they prove how safe these contraceptives are.

Unless you have diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension — in which case you may want to discuss other birth control options with your MD to avoid compounding your risk — there's no reason to go off your combination pill if you're happy with it.


2)      Contraceptives and the Big C – are they linked?

Read our full article on this subject by clicking here.

Some research has suggested that oral contraceptives may slightly increase your risk for breast cancer (from yearly odds of 1 in 4,000 to 1 in 2,700). But the risk is extremely low, and young women — those most likely to be on the Pill — have the lowest rates of these cancers, so your actual risk is even lower. Any elevated risk disappears when you stop taking the Pill, so you don't set yourself up for developing cancer later on by preventing pregnancy now. Plus, evidence shows that birth control pills lower your risk for colon cancer, cut your odds of uterine cancer in half, and reduce your chances of getting ovarian cancer by as much as 80 percent.

Even if you have a history of breast cancer in your family, you don't need to toss your pills. In fact, we often recommend that BRCA carriers take them since it can reduce the risk for ovarian cancer, which women with the gene [mutations] are at a greater risk of developing.


3)      Will contraceptives increase my chance of catching an infection?

Women using hormonal contraception are almost twice as likely to carry staph bacteria as women not on it, according to a widely covered study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. Which sounds terrifying, until you know that carrying bacteria doesn't mean you'll get sick. Up to 30 percent of the population carries it, and most never know or have any health problems. Carrying the bacteria has only been found to be a risk factor for infection among certain hospital patients having serious medical procedures.

The study reveals how hormonal levels can impact the immune system. "These hormonal changes are part of a normal, healthy life — like pregnancy, puberty, and the menstrual cycle," Dr. Nurjadi says. Quitting the Pill can't prevent you from being a carrier. The best way to prevent infection? Wash hands with warm water and soap.


4)      Can the hormonal injection really lower my bone density?

Injectable contraceptives can cause a 1- to 4-percent loss in bone density, raising concerns that women who use it could be at risk for fractures or osteoporosis later in life. Luckily, it appears to be reversible. Bone density recovers once women stop getting the injections — and there's no evidence to suggest that women who get Depo-Provera are more likely to experience fractures or develop osteoporosis.

The benefits of Depo-Provera far outweigh the risk of bone loss, especially for women with polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, or heavy periods, who often find the shot is the only thing that helps them. 


5)      Can an IUD Puncture My Uterus?

While lawsuit ads imply IUDs have left thousands of women with punctured uteruses, the research tells a different story. IUD perforation rates are just 0.4 per 1,000 insertions, and no brand has a higher rate than any other. Perforation happens when the IUD is placed — usually causing lower abdominal pain and sometimes bleeding — and doctors usually catch it right away. They remove the IUD, then wait a week for your uterus to heal before inserting another one. If it's not immediately recognized, some perforations may require laparoscopic surgery — a minimally invasive surgery where a tiny camera is used to help fish out the IUD.

That being said, the intrinsic shape and size variations of the CopperPearls IUB means you run even less of a chance of perforation.


Perforation is extremely rare, and it's even rarer that it will lead to any severe or lasting complications or affect your future fertility. Still, you can minimize your risk by finding a medical provider who has a lot of experience inserting IUDs and scheduling a follow-up visit four to six weeks after to make sure everything is in the right place.



For any info, advice or guidance on the CopperPearls IUB, click here to get in touch with us today!


Cover Image Credit: VideoBlocks