Monday, 26 September 2011

Myth-Busting Monday - World Contraception Day Special

Today is ‘World Contraception Day’ so we thought we’d share some common myths we hear about contraception.

A multi-national survey was released today which reported a number of barriers young people have in accessing trustworthy information about sex and contraception. Only 55% of those interviewed in Europe said they had received sex education at school and 20% said that ‘their school does not provide a comfortable environment for questions on sexuality and intimacy’. One of the most worrying findings was that 14% of young people in the UK reported that their teachers had provided information about contraception which was inaccurate or untrue. We believe school is a place where young people should feel comfortable to ask questions and confident that they will receive evidence-based answers. Teachers need access to reputable sources of information on sexual and reproductive health (like fpa and Brook) as well as training and resources to deliver the balanced and informed SRE young people need. We believe this is particularly pertinent when dealing with the topic of abortion – a subject shrouded in stigma and myth, and that’s why we offer training and resources to help them do so.

So let’s bust some common myths about contraception. You can find detailed information on all forms of contraception by visiting the fpa website.

Using two condoms when you have sex means double the protection. This one came up just the other day in new Channel 4 comedy ‘Fresh Meat’ when two characters ‘double bag’ by using a female and a male condom at once. In fact, using two condoms at once is likely to increase friction and could mean that they are more likely to tear or come off. If somebody wanted to further decrease their chances of getting pregnant they could use condoms alongside a non-barrier method of contraception (like the pill or the implant).

Women who haven’t given birth shouldn’t be fitted with the coil. This myth is common enough that we’ve heard it from some medical professionals. In fact, women of all ages (including those who are ‘nulliparous’ i.e. haven’t given birth) can be fitted with an IUD/coil. Young women should be offered the full range of contraceptive methods with a discussion of the suitability and side effects of each one.

Taking the contraceptive pill can lead to fertility problems. Some people think that taking the pill for a number of years will affect a woman’s fertility in the long-term but this is not true. In fact, some women conceive immediately after stopping taking the pill and while it doesn't cause fertility problems the pill can mask problems that were already there, such as irregular periods.

Have you heard any other myths about contraception from young people or in the media? Let us know by commenting below!


  1. Lots of people think that if the woman is on her period, she can't get pregnant.

  2. I hear a lot of:
    "The pill makes you fat/ugly/spotty/mental"- it is true that some pills may affect mood, weight, or your skin etc but the key is to work with your doctor/nurse to find the best pill for you. Some pills even cause clear skin and you to lose weight!

    I also hear
    "condoms don't work so no point using them"
    Condoms when used correctly are 98% effective. But can have a user failure rate of ~15% according to some studies. This is highest in first year of use (so um practice makes perfect- on your own or with a partner who if female could consider using hormonal contraception as well to act as a back up against unitended pregnancy if the condom does fail and remember its unlikely too if used properly!).

  3. Thanks for comments so far. We've thought we'd share some more myths from Bish Training: