Top 10 Myths About Safe Sex And Sexual Health

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MYTH: Birth control pills make you gain weight

Although clinical trial after clinical trial has been unable to prove a correlation between oral contraceptives and weight gain, this is still a common belief among women of all ages.

 

Specifically, a review article published in 2006 analyzed 44 previous trials and found that while some participants did gain weight during their studies, there was no evidence that their birth control was to blame.

"We've heard from several of our patients that they're concerned about gaining weight on birth control," says Dr. Yen. "And no woman wants to gain weight. I'd rather prevent pregnancy than propagate a myth that's not supported by science."

One type of contraceptive that may cause weight gain is injectable depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), commonly known as the birth control shot. In a study published in March 2009, University of Texas researchers linked the shot to an average 11-pound weight gain over three years.

MYTH: IUD birth control is not safe for use in adolescents

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small objects inserted through the cervix and placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years. Because you don't need to take a pill every day when using an IUD, it can be a convenient and long-term way to prevent pregnancy.

Outdated information suggested that IUDs may increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease in women under 18.

But as of 2007, ACOG has said that IUDs are a safe and highly effective birth-control method in most adults as well as adolescents—a population at particular risk for unintended pregnancy.

MYTH: If you get the HPV shot you're safe from cervical cancer

Gardasil, the cervical cancer vaccine approved in 2006 for girls and women ages 9 to 26, blocks four types of human papillomavirus (HPV), two that most frequently cause cervical cancer and two that cause genital warts and abnormalities in Pap tests. But about 30% of cervical cancers will not be protected by the vaccine, so it's important for all women, whether they've gotten the shot or not, to continue having regular Pap tests.

Although the vaccine is currently only approved for women under 26, it may also protect older women who are re-entering the dating scene after years of marriage (although it will likely not be covered by insurance, and the complete course of three shots costs almost $400). The vaccine is also being tested, and may one day be approved in, boys and men; this may help prevent the spread of caner-causing HPV to their female partners.

 
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