Feature Archive

Mis-Conceptions: Debunking Birth Control Myths

Three experts set the record straight on the most common misconceptions about birth control.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

Does the birth control pill cause cancer? Can an IUD cause painful sex? Will a diaphragm protect against a sexually transmitted disease?

If you're like many women you may not know the answers -- or worse still, be all too familiar with the myths and not the facts that seem to swirl around nearly every method of birth control. Indeed, doctors say that so much misinformation is going round about birth control even they sometimes get confused about what is and isn't true.

"Sometimes I'll hear something repeated so many times from so many different patients I'll actually have to do some research myself to make sure the facts haven't changed," says Steven Goldstein, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU School of Medicine in New York.

Among the most troubling of those myths says Goldstein, is fears about a link between the birth control pill and cancer; a common misconception that keeps many women from using this highly effective method of birth control.

The good news: "The pill is not a cancer-causing agent, but a cancer-reducing agent, with good science to show that with continued pill use there's a dramatic and continued reduction in the incidence of ovarian cancer, and even uterine cancer," says Goldstein.