Fear of gaining weight is stopping many women taking the contraceptive pill, according to research published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care.
The study into why use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the UK is still low also found that some women believe their long-term fertility may be affected.
In 2005 to 2006, only 10% of women aged 16-49 had used any form of LARC in the previous year compared with 23% who had used oral contraception and 21% the condom.
Professor Anna Glasier, author of the study, said: "Myths and misconceptions are still common … we need to emphasise that they don't impair fertility, and the majority of them don't affect weight.
"Doctors tend to focus on medical problems, whereas women are actually more worried about their weight, their skin and their chances of being able to have children in the future."
She said doctors and health professionals should take more time to explain all of the options available to women when they come to them seeking contraception. The terminology is also dissuading women from using LARCs and simply using the phrase "lasting protection" rather than "long acting" had a positive effect on uptake, she added.
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