The first oral contraceptives appeared more than 50 years ago. Since then, their composition has changed significantly, new forms have appeared, and the dosages of hormones have been significantly reduced. Nevertheless, to this day, this type of contraception¬† is surrounded by myths, and many women prefer interrupted intercourse, emergency contraception, or even abortion, just to “not drink hormones. Serezhina Vera Viktorovna, a senior physician, a medical expert of LabQuest Personalized Medicine Laboratory, tried to deal with the most popular myths and told what oral contraceptives are on the market today and how they work. One of them:

Modern oral contraceptives are divided into two large groups: gestagenic and combined. Gestagenic drugs contain substances similar to the hormone of pregnancy and phase 2 of the cycle – progesterone. The contraceptive effect is manifested by changing the physical properties of the endometrial mucosa, which lines the uterus from the inside, and the cervical mucus. In this way the “double” contraceptive effect is achieved: the sperm cannot reach the egg because the cervical mucus is thick and impermeable, and even if they could, the fetal egg cannot attach to the uterine wall.

Combination oral contraceptives contain both gestagens and estrogens. Depending on the combination of hormones, they are divided into high-dose, low-dose and micro-dose. Drugs in which the doses of hormones are divided into monophasic, biphasic, and triphasic. In monophasic preparations, the dose of gestagen and estradiol is the same throughout the cycle. In biphasic preparations, the gestagen content is increased when taken in the second phase of the cycle. Three-phase contraceptives contain microdoses of hormones with a gradual increase according to the phases of the cycle.

If we talk about the principle of work, combined oral contraceptives inhibit the process of ovulation in the ovaries, increase the density of cervical mucus, changing the structure of the uterine endometrium. Such a variety of modern oral contraceptives allows gynecologists to choose the most suitable pill for a particular woman, taking into account the peculiarities of her body, reducing the risk of possible side effects.

And now let’s see, are oral contraceptives as scary as they are told about them on forums?

Myth 1: Hormonal contraception reduces libido.
Oral contraceptives can affect libido, reducing as well as increasing it. This largely depends on the individual hormonal background that a woman had before taking contraceptives. In addition, libido directly depends on the phase of the cycle. Thus, the peak desire usually falls on ovulation. In addition, you should not exclude the psychological moment. Many women who have ceased to fear unwanted pregnancy, conversely, more willing to have sex. If against the background of taking oral contraceptives you notice a strong decrease in libido, see your doctor for a replacement drug.

Myth 2: Causes cysts in the ovaries and other gynecological problems.
One way to treat hormone-dependent ovarian cysts is to use combined oral contraceptives. Moreover, today these means are an effective prophylaxis of tumor diseases of the female reproductive sphere.

Myth 3: The contraceptive pill damages the skin, hair and promotes acne
With hormone-dependent pimples and blackheads, prescribing oral contraceptives can get rid of them or reduce the number of rashes. This is achieved by normalizing the hormonal background with the right therapy. But with the wrong selection of oral contraceptives and problems with the gastrointestinal tract, rashes can actually increase. This condition requires restoration of normal functioning of gastrointestinal organs and replacement of contraceptive with another.

Myth 4: Smoking women should not use oral contraceptives
Smoking is among the absolute contraindications for prescribing estrogen-containing oral contraceptives for women over the age of 35, because it is after that age that the risk of thrombosis greatly increases. If a woman is younger, choosing this type of contraception, should understand that smoking increases the risk of side effects from taking hormones, so once every 6 months a woman should undergo a comprehensive examination. If there are deviations in the tests, the question about the possibility of further use of hormonal contraceptives is decided by a gynecologist.

Myth 5: Hormones make you fat.
During reception of contraceptive pills it is necessary to adhere to a balanced diet, to observe a sufficient regime of physical activity and not to allow for fluid retention in the body – to drink not less than 1.5-2 liters of water. In other words, lead a healthy lifestyle. In order to prevent weight gain before using oral contraceptives you can assess your body mass index and take a test to assess the lipid profile (glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, LDL-C). A contraindication to the prescription of hormones is a body mass index over 30.

Myth 6: Every few months, it is necessary to take a “break”.
If the drug is prescribed correctly, there are no pronounced side effects, the need to prevent unwanted pregnancy has not passed, then there is no need for such “breaks” for medical reasons.

On the contrary, such hormonal “shake-up” is not very desirable for the body and sometimes ends in an unplanned pregnancy.

After 3-4 months you can go to the doctor to assess the effectiveness of the drug and how suitable it is. You should also think about taking a break, if during taking oral contraceptives you have experienced excessive bleeding, headaches, hemorrhages on the skin and along the veins, depression, increased thirst, increased urination, rashes – this means you have unwanted side effects. In such cases, it is necessary to visit the doctor immediately.

Truth. Oral contraceptives have indications and contraindications. If you look closely at all the myths, they are based on possible side effects caused by improper selection of birth control pills. You should understand that oral contraceptives are a medicine with its own indications and contraindications. Therefore, the doctor should conduct a detailed diagnosis of the patient’s health condition before prescribing hormonal drugs.