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10 Myths About Contraception

At Marie Stopes International we believe every woman has a human right to control her own fertility, including by getting good information about contraception. So, to mark the UN’s Commission on Population and Development (CPD) meeting this week we've pulled together some of the more bizarre myths about contraception that our teams working in Africa, Asia and Europe have come across.

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2. Vasectomy causes impotency / Via

In many parts of the world getting men involved in family planning is an uphill battle to say the least. This is particularly true in parts of Africa where we often hear men say that they worry that they will "lose their potency" if they have a vasectomy.

A vasectomy simply ensures that there is no sperm present in a man's semen. It has absolutely no effect on sex drive, ability to get an erection or to ejaculate.

3. Injectables and babies with big heads / Via

This one came from a group information session in South Sudan. A woman said she'd heard that if you use the contraceptive injection, which lasts either eight or 12 weeks, the next child you have will have a really, really big head.

Suffice to say there is absolutely no medical evidence of this!

5. The Pill will make you thin / Via

We’ve heard some men in Sierra Leone say that they worry that if their wives start taking the pill then they will get thin. That’s wrong for lots of reasons, not least that it’s simply not true. The same study from the University of Gothenburg that found that you don’t get fat also found that you don’t get thin.

6. IUDs are really, really bad

It seems that IUDs are the source of a LOT of myths. Some we've heard – an IUD can work its way from your uterus to your brain; women who die with an IUD will be reincarnated with the same IUD and will be infertile; women using an IUD can still conceive and their babies are born clutching it in their hands.

Needless to say none of these are true. The IUD is one of the safest and most reliable forms of contraception and can be a great option for women looking for a long-term method of contraception.

7. Contraception encourages promiscuity / Via

Sexual behaviour isn't related to contraceptive use. Wherever we work we tend to see that using contraception actually shows responsible behaviour. People using contraception are trying to protect themselves from STIs and unintended pregnancies.

8. Implants cause blindness and cancer / Via

Definitely not. Any medicinal product can have side effects – that’s why it’s good there are so many kinds of contraception to choose from. But the worst most women experience with implants generally are headaches, some stomach pain, breast tenderness and usually these fade within a few months.

9. The Pill collects in your stomach / Via

We heard this one in one of our centres in Nigeria, where a woman was worried that the contraceptive pills she was thinking of taking would collect in her stomach and cause stomach cramps and pains. Not true. Pills get digested just like anything else.

10. Contraception is only for married couples / Via

We hear this a lot in Vietnam where a lot of young people think that contraception is only for married couples or those in long-term relationships. And we often hear that people are put off by the fact that it's sometimes called 'family planning'.

But whether you call it family planning or contraception, it's not just for couples who are planning their families, it's for anybody who wants to avoid getting pregnant!

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