Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
THERE ARE some common misconceptions or beliefs about the use of contraceptions, but, according to Dr Philip Smits, senior vice-president for Global Strategic Marketing for Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, who has worked extensively with various organisations, many of these are myths.
Some of these misconceptions state that women should take a break from the Pill; the most risky moment for losing the Pill is at the middle of the treatment; the Pill produces cancer and the regular use of the morning-after Pill is a good contraceptive method.
"There has been a comprehensive study of the Pill and the facts show that these myths are not true. The Pill is safe when it is used as directed with proper consultation. It is a drug, and (as is the case with) most drugs, it has benefits and also favourable risks," Smits said.
"The most important element of our educational drive is to provide women with options. We advise them to take precautionary methods, but accidents do happen, and this is where the emergency contraceptive is good. It should not be used as contraception on demand. The amount of hormones in one package is high, it has to be high to be effective and hence must not be used regularly," Smits added.
Another method of contraceptive should be used on a regular cycle, according to Smits, and the emergency contraceptive should only be used as the name suggests in a truly emergency situation. He said the effectiveness of the emergency contraceptive is also dependent on where the woman is in her cycle.
Other myths about contraceptives include statements that the Pill is not safe and it produces birth defects, and long-term use of the Pill can affect fertility. However, Smits said the Pill is most risky when a woman starts a strip and forgets at least one pill per cycle.
"The Pill becomes less reliable and if they forget multiple pills then it further diminishes the desired results. Timing is also important, taking the Pill can be built into a routine although it doesn't have to be taken at the same hour everyday. Most women take it at bedtime, and as we are in the digital age they set timers to remind themselves," Smits said.
Smits also indicated that it is better to forget taking a pill in the middle of the cycle than at the beginning. He said in the United States, the failure rate is between five and eight per cent because women forget to take the Pill, had bouts of diarrhoea or were on other medications that interfered with the dosage of the Pill.
"The Pill has been on the market for 50 years. The modern pills contain only a fraction of the Pills from the early 60s. We have managed to make available the lowest possible dose of hormones with the best cycle control," Smits said.