I’d BEEN on THE pill

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Hot & Healthy -


for 10 years—un­til one day, a year and a half af­ter I got mar­ried, I wasn’t. Oh, cute! I was “try­ing.” Uh, no. I wasn’t ready for a baby. I’d ditched my Rx be­cause I was freaked out by what my friends were say­ing.

“You have to stop tak­ing birth con­trol six months be­fore you want to get preg­nant,” a soror­ity sis­ter de­clared over rosé. “That’s how long it takes to cleanse your­self of the Pill’s hor­mones,” my neigh­bor added.

Off the Pill I went, cer­tain I’d ex­punge it slowly. Mean­while, I’d be mag­i­cally pro­tected! In fact, just 30 hours af­ter tak­ing a pill, half its hor­mones are out of your sys­tem. Less than two months later, I was preg­nant.

I now have an adorable daugh­ter who I love more than any­thing. I’m 33, fi­nan­cially se­cure, with a hus­band who changes di­a­pers like a boss— not all sur­prise preg­nan­cies are as wel­come. Still, it both­ers me that I gave more weight to sup­per-club gos­sip than science. Why are smart, grow­nass women treat­ing their re­pro­duc­tive health like a game of tele­phone?

“There’s a mas­sive cri­sis in women’s health lit­er­acy,” says Jen­nifer Ashton, MD, an ob-gyn and US Cosmo con­trib­u­tor. She hears it of­ten—pa­tients cit­ing besties as health ad­vis­ers. In part, it’s due to a dearth in good sex ed; some women sim­ply don’t know the facts. Who isn’t guilty of Googling Caniget preg­nant? in a panic at 3 a.m.?

There’s the myth that you can’t get preg­nant while breast­feed­ing (nope, the es­tro­gen re­leased isn’t foolproof at stop­ping ovu­la­tion). There’s an­other that swap­ping a new pack of BC for your place­bos is a no-no (ac­tu­ally, pro­ges­terone keeps uter­ine lin­ing thin, so there’s no need to shed it monthly). And it’s been said at many a brunch ta­ble that women should take breaks from BC, as be­ing un­der the spell of hor­mones for too long is dan­ger­ous. “This is a mega myth,” says Dr. Ashton. Long stretches on the Pill don’t make side ef­fects more likely. “Your body doesn’t need a hor­monal washout of any kind.”

To the con­trary, stud­ies show the Pill may reg­u­late your pe­riod and lower your risk of ovar­ian and uter­ine can­cers. Some may slightly raise your chance for breast can­cer, but the ben­e­fits out­weigh that risk. The irony is, some women are so ner­vous, they quit the Pill yet are blasé about the real risk of preg­nancy. “Many have an ‘it won’t hap­pen to me’ men­tal­ity,” says Leah Mill­heiser, MD, di­rec­tor of the Fe­male Sex­ual Medicine Pro­gram at Stan­ford Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

We be­lieve this vagi­nal voodoo be­cause “friends are our first line of de­fense,” says Dr. Mill­heiser. “Women de­fine them­selves by what their friends are go­ing through.” What’s more, “it’s clas­sic fe­male so­cial­iza­tion to say ‘I think’ or ‘I heard’ as a way to con­nect,” says psy­chol­o­gist Misty Hook, PHD. Next thing you know, “I heard” it takes six months to rid your body of birth con­trol is #Truth.

It was cer­tainly eas­ier for me to chat tipsily with my girls than con­front my fu­ture with my doc—that would’ve made my hy­po­thet­i­cal baby plan all too real. Funny how a pos­i­tive preg­nancy test changes your out­look.

“It’s okay to com­mis­er­ate with friends,” says Dr. Mill­heiser. But whether you’re go­ing on birth con­trol or off it, “you need to fol­low up with your doc­tor and ask, ‘Are my fears based in re­al­ity?’” One deep convo later, he or she may feel like your new best friend. One who has a med­i­cal de­gree.

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