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Misinformation on pill is widespread.

Few American women understand the health benefits and side effects associated with birth control pills, even though 82% of them have used this form of contraception at some time in their lives. A Gallup survey commissioned by the pharmaceutical company Organon Inc. found that only 16% realize that the pill helps reduce the incidence of ovarian and endometrial cancer and ovarian cysts. In addition, few are aware that the pill can cut the development of benign breast cysts (15%) and ectopic pregnancy (27%).

"Americans don't seem to realize that, because of its numerous health benefits and high contraceptive effectiveness, the pill may actually reduce the number of hospitalizations for several conditions," notes Carolyn Westhoff, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and medical director of family planning at Columbia-presbyterian Medical Center.

The survey found that 43% still believe that females over age 35 should not take the pill, even though it is known that healthy women who do not smoke can take it through menopause. In fact, studies show the longer a woman is on the pill, the more she is apt to benefit from its effects.

The "infertility myth" also flourishes. Forty-five percent incorrectly believe the pill can cause infertility if taken "too long." "There is not one grain of truth to the idea that long-term use of the pill leads to fertility problems," Westhoff maintains. "Because of the numerous myths that abound, many women may be denying themselves the opportunity to take advantage of one of the most effective and safe methods of birth control. Compounding the problem is that parents are passing on misinformation to their children. This is why it is important for parents to re-educate themselves about the facts on contraception, as well as about sexually transmitted disease and sexuality in general."
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Title Annotation:birth control pill
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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