Misconceptions about the side effects of combined oral contraceptive pills

Gynecol Endocrinol. 2012 Apr;28(4):282-5. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2011.613502. Epub 2011 Oct 31.


Objective: Although combined oral contraceptive pills (COCPs) are one of the most commonly used methods of contraception in western countries, they are taken by only a minority of sexually active women in Turkey. The purpose of this research has been to define women's specific misconceptions with regard to the side effects of COCPs.

Methods: This descriptive and cross-sectional research was conducted on 418 reproductive aged women who agreed to participate. Data were collected through face-to-face interviews with a questionnaire which assessed socio-demographic characteristics and women's beliefs about the side effects of COCPs.

Results: It is observed that 45.2% believed that the pills cause weight gain. Another 7.9% of the cases held the belief that COCPs cause cancer. A group of 13.4% of the subjects thought that COCPs lead to infertility, 28.7% believed that they cause headache, 41.1% believed that they cause acne and/or an increase in body hair, and 11.7% were afraid that they cause a decrease in libido.

Conclusion: The present study has shown that misconceptions about the side effects of COCPs were considerably prevalent among this cohort group of Turkish women. Healthcare professionals have the potential of playing an important role in dispersing these misconceptions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraception / methods*
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined