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Is There Such A Thing As Being On Birth Control For Too Long?

Birth control is a great thing. Not only does it help prevent unwanted pregnancies, but depending on what kind you use, it can cut your odds of ovarian and endometrial cancers, clear up acne, and ease super-painful period cramps (to name just a few of the benefits). So in anticipation of Thanks, Birth Control Day on November 10, we partnered with for a series all about contraception. You can join in on the birth control celebration by using the hashtag #ThxBirthControl.

Earlier this week, gynos shared some of the most common misconceptions about birth control they’ve heard from patients. One of the biggies? Many women think contraceptives can affect your ability to get pregnant if you stay on them for too long.

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But is there any truth to this idea? Experts say absolutely not.

“There are no birth-control methods that cause infertility,” says Colleen Krajewski, M.D., ob-gyn in Pittsburgh and adviser. “Most methods have a very rapid return to fertility. I have seen many women who miss their [birth control] shot by a week or two and conceive, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on the delay if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy.”

And what about those rumours you’ve heard that prolonged use of the Pill causes cancer? Leah Torres, M.D., ob-gyn in private practice in Salt Lake City, says that’s not the case.

That being said, a 2014 study published in the journal Cancer Research did point to a slightly increased risk of breast cancer for women taking oral contraceptives—but ob-gyns say that for most women, the benefits outweigh the potential risks. And a study published this summer in The Lancet actually found that the longer women took the Pill, the lower their risks for developing endometrial cancer.

Previously, there were concerns about using Depo-Provera (the birth control shot) long-term due to the risk of bone loss, but Torres says the most recent research suggests it’s safe to use for an extended period of time, too.

So there you have it. No matter what form of pregnancy prevention you’re a fan of, know that you can use it for as long as you’d like. Now go on—have some (safe) sex!

RELATED: Could This One Habit Quadruple Your Risk For Getting An STD?

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