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Birth Control Methods Myths and Facts

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Written by Adella Brown

As an OB/GYN health educator at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, much of what I do is help women understand the benefits of pregnancy planning and birth control options.  When it comes to choosing a birth control method, many women are afraid of using hormonal methods or methods that need to be inserted into the body. Here are the most common myths women have brought up during our encounters, and what the facts are.

Myth: Women need to have menstrual period regularly to remove toxins from the body. It is harmful to use birth control methods that may stop one’s period.

Fact: While having regular menstrual period is an indicator of reproductive health for women, using birth control methods to stop having periods is harmless. In fact, women who have more than the average menstrual cycles in their lifetime are more likely to suffer from ovarian cancer and uterine diseases. The use of hormonal birth control methods is shown to lower risks of these diseases and relieve the symptoms of uterine fibroids and endometriosis.


Myth: Birth control pills will lead to weight gain.

Fact: Many studies showed that birth control pills rarely cause weight gain. When weight gain does happen, it is usually due to fluid retention and goes away within 2 to 3 months, along with other side effects.


Myth: The hormones in birth control can increase risk of getting breast cancer.

Fact: Most studies have shown that hormonal birth control use is not associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Also, women who have used these methods over many years have lowered rates of ovarian and uterine cancer. Discuss your health history with a healthcare provider to decide if hormonal birth control methods are right for you.


Myth: Fertility awareness is effective in preventing pregnancy and has no side effects.

Fact: 12-24% of women will get pregnant in a year using fertility awareness method.  Many factors, such as stress and changes in diet or lifestyle, can change a woman’s menstrual cycle, making ovulation hard to predict. Although other birth control methods may have side effects, they are usually temporary and mild. An unplanned pregnancy will have more impact on your health and lifestyle.


Myth: Use of IUD increases the risk of getting uterine injuries or gynecological infections.

Fact: Some types of IUD were known to have caused uterine injuries and gynecological infections. However, IUDs currently available in the U.S., such as progestin IUDs (Mirena, Skyla, and Liletta) and non-hormonal IUD (ParaGard) have been extensively tested for safety and effectiveness. Large studies have proven that modern IUDs do not cause gynecological infections.  Keep in mind that women who are at high risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) should continue to use condoms after IUD insertion.


Myth: Getting an IUD is painful and it will feel weird inside the body.

Fact: IUD insertion is a quick procedure that usually does not require anesthesia. Some women may take pain medicine before the insertion. Some spotting and cramping are common in the first few days following the insertion. After that, most women don’t feel anything in their body. Their partners usually don’t feel the IUD either. If pain or spotting persists or worsens, see your provider for a check-up.


Myth: Using birth control methods may lead to infertility.

Fact: All reversible birth control methods will help prevent pregnancy while you’re using them, but none have long-lasting effects on your ability to get pregnant when you stop. If a woman has difficulty getting pregnant after stopping a birth control method, it may be due to 1) an undiagnosed condition prior to the birth control use; 2) natural decrease in fertility due to older age; or 3) sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea that can damage the reproductive system.

Trying a new birth control method can be intimidating. Remember, you can stop using these methods if you are not satisfied or change your plan. Come talk to our health educators and providers to learn more about your options. The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center offers comprehensive, high quality primary care services at convenient locations in Manhattan and Queens. The Health Center is open seven days a week and serves all patients regardless of their ability to pay. To learn more about the Health Center’s family planning services, please call (212) 966-0228 (Manhattan), (718) 886-1287 (37th Avenue, Queens) and (929) 362-3006 (45th Avenue, Queens), or by visiting our OB/GYN webpage.

Adella Brown is a Health Educator in the OB/GYN Department at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. One of her current roles is providing one-on-one reproductive health education. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience. She is also a Certified Lactation Counselor and passionately promotes breastfeeding in the Chinese American community.


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Talk to Your Doctor about Colorectal Cancer

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Colorectal cancer affects men and women equally, regardless of race and ethnicity. It is most often found in people who are 50 years old or older. However, there is an increasing rate of colorectal cancer in those who are under 50, because of physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet. It is important for younger adults to start paying attention to their colorectal health.

According to Dr. Robert Andrew Heyding, a physician at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, “Colorectal cancer causes almost one out of every ten cancer deaths in the United States. Fortunately it can be prevented. You can lower your risk by choosing healthy habits and getting regular screening”.

It’s never too early to start living healthy. Here are some good health habits to lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer:

  • Do not smoke – quit smoking and try avoid second hand smoke. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation resources. Charles B. Wang Community Health Center has bilingual quit smoking resources, you can view those here.
  • Reduce alcoholic drinks – limit to one drink a day or less.
  • Eat a healthy diet – limit high fat or sugary foods, preserved foods, and red meat. Add more fruits and vegetables to your plate.
  • Exercise regularly – walk, jog, swim, or dance. Strive to be active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Keep a healthy weight – talk to your family doctor about what is a healthy weight for you.

Other than having healthy habits, getting screened is very important to prevent cancer. When detected early, there are more treatment options and fewer complications. The most commonly used screening methods include:

  • A Fecal Occult Blood Test (FBOT) checks for blood in stool. Blood in stool may indicate presence of diseases and a colonoscopy may be needed for a diagnosis.
  • A colonoscopy is a thin, flexible tube with a small camera and light on the end is used to examine the colon. It may also have a tool to remove abnormal tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.

In general, it is recommended that men and women of average risk levels begin screening at age 50. However, some individuals may need to begin screening earlier, such as those who have family or personal history of colorectal cancer or chronic colorectal diseases, and those who are experiencing symptoms of colorectal diseases, such as persistent abdominal pain or changes in bowel habits for at least two weeks.

Discuss with your primary care doctor about when to start screening, which screening method to use, and how often you should get screened. Also speak to your doctor regarding your risk factors or anything unusual in your body. You can make an appointment to see a primary care provider here at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center by calling (212) 379-6998 for Manhattan, and (718) 886-1200 (37th Ave) or (929) 362-3006 (45th Ave) for Queens.


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AAPI Nexus Journal Releases Special Community Health Center Issue

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Photo Credit: Les Talusan/AAPCHO

The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center took part in a very special issue of the AAPI Nexus Journal, that focused on the role community health centers have in Asian American communities across the country.

The AAPI Nexus is a national journal that focuses on policies, practices and community research to benefit the nation’s burgeoning Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. This edition is entitled “Asian American, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander Communities and Federally Qualified Health Centers”, which celebrates the 50th year of the community health center movement.

Health Center staff co-authored numerous articles published in this issue in areas including research participation of community health centers, the Affordable Care Act outreach and enrollment efforts, Chinese language patient portal, PCMH model addressing Hepatitis B perinatal transmission and families with children with special health care needs, building a data warehouse to promote research, and efforts to implement patient experience survey. Take a look at the abstracts here.

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AAPCHO Executive Director, Jeffrey Caballero; Congresswoman Grace Meng; CBWCHC Chief Executive Director, Jane Eng. Photo Credit: Les Talusan/AAPCHO

This issue was launched at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on March 17, 2015. Among the speakers that provided remarks at the launch event were Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Acting Assistant Secretary of Health of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  Congresswomen Grace Meng (D-NY) and Judy Chu (D-CA), two leading Asian American voices on Capitol Hill, also offered congratulations at the Nexus Journal launch event and reaffirmed their support of community health center funding at the federal level. Many of our staff was able to make the trip and join the celebration as well!

The journal is a joint project of the Asian Health Services, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, Waimanalo Health Center, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), and UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Dr. Shao-Chee Sim, CBWCHC’s Chief Strategy Officer, along with Professor Marjorie Kagawa-Singer of UCLA and Professor Ninez Ponce of UCLA served as co-guest editors for this special issue. Congratulations to all on this very important issue.

SinoVision covered the launch event, you can view that here.