Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Health Risks of Oral Contraceptives


I do not know if the advocates of hormonal contraceptives for birth control have their information wrong or they just refuse to accept the fact that there have been many documented adverse reactions resulting from contraceptive use, the latest of which is The Lancet study that reported that there is a strong link between HIV transmission and the use of hormonal contraceptives, particularly injectable hormones such as Depo-Provera aka "the shot". In September 26, 2011, the US FDA has expressed "concern over the potential increased risk of blood clots” associated with the use of one of the most popular types of birth control pills. The pills in question contain the progestin drospirenone, and have in recent years been marketed to young women under such trade names as Yaz, Angeliq and Yasmin in the Philippines. There is also an increased incidence in breast cancer and increased risk of cervical cancer due to contraceptive use as reported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.  Oral contraceptives are not to be used in women with a history of stroke, heart attacks, blood clots, liver disease, breast cancer or are over 35 years old and smoke. They do NOT provide any protection against any sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.  This last information is very important in this day and age where many girls become sexually active at an early age and where oral contraceptives are easily made available to them. Studies show that hormonal methods of birth control, such as Depo-Provera (the shot), the patch, and oral contraceptives, can actually increase your chances of getting an STD from your partner if he is infected.  Depo-provera will suppress the immune system, and hormonal methods can make the reproductive tract more vulnerable to infections like HIV and chlamydia. There are also many other side effects that need further study like the disruption of the psychological and physiological health of women. Users of oral contraceptives have seen side effects like migraines,mood swings, altered memory, and vomiting; and young women seeking pregnancy-free sex might experience a decrease in libido from these pills as well as fertility problems may arise in the long-term especially for women who have never been pregnant before, which is an ironic consequence .

With all these information, why does our government push for hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices (IUD), injectables and other allied reproductive health products and supplies to be considered under the category of essential medicines and supplies? Is the purpose really to empower women by making oral contraceptives/ injectables/ IUD's, etc. available for free? Or is it because the WHO (and USAID, for that matter) says so? The WHO's definition of essential medicines is that these are medicines that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population. I cannot see the logic on how oral contraceptives can fall under "priority health needs". Just as I cannot understand how women of child-bearing age could be labeled as "high risk for pregnancy"...since when has becoming pregnant seen as a disease? Since our government seem to abide with the WHO's guidelines, then maybe we should also be informed that the WHO also lists "safe abortion" as part of their packages of interventions for ensuring quality reproductive health, maternal, neonatal and child health services. The target group to be given free access to hormonal contraceptives are women of reproductive age who cannot afford to buy them. These women are also poorly educated and may not have the capacity to understand the information given to them. The process of informed consent is not a guarantee that they get knowledge and give consent. Why are we giving the poorer sector of our society something that the rich will not want for themselves? 

There are many other family planning methods available including natural family planning...oral/hormonal contraceptives is just one of them.  Personally, the only sure way I know to avoid pregnancy is abstinence.  Of course, this is something that requires superhuman effort for most people. As to safe sex?...no such thing.

Photo retrieved from http://www.davegranlund.com/cartoons/2008/05/22/abstinence-2/



Links to my other blogs:

On Why I Do Not Support The RH Bill

The Filipino and Catholicism

 

13 comments:

  1. I used pills for 1 year ,when me and hubby are newly wed.I never had any side effect. but since the studied showed adverse reactions the government should do something about it.

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  2. I'm hesitant to say anything about this mainly because I do believe there needs to be some sort of contraception available to Filipino women that's better than abstinence or natural methods.

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  3. RH Bill has gone it's popularity against SOTTO Plagiarism. Hehehe. Need to BUMP it up again.

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  4. Proper education will indeed help prevent from unwanted pregnancy. Thus, for married people, natural family planning should really be practiced or applied.

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  5. I have tried using pills,I experienced some side effects so I had to stop. I opted for something permanet since I already have three boys, I chose to undergo BTL right after giving birth to my youngest son. I was a choice I had to make because I suffer frequent seizures whenever I am pregnant. No regrets with my decision.

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    1. There are many situations and cases where contraception is needed but there should be guidelines for this and it should be followed. Unfortunately in our country our drug laws and usage are not well monitored. For example, prescription drugs are sold even without prescription so that usage can be abused causing many adverse reactions. In your case, you had not much choice. BTL was necessary to avoid further complications and save your life. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  6. Educate people about birth control is one of the best thing to do. Education I think must be the first one to be discussed first.

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  7. Everything has its own advantages and disadvantages, proper advocacy is essential so that correct and accurate information will surely reached targeted populations.

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  8. I agree on the comment above.. i guess family planning is the key to this.. If health would suffer, then why still use contraceptives?

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  9. i don't use OC, we only practice natural contraception.

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  10. Some people avoid babies, some try so hard to have them. Life's full of its ironies, isn't it?

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  11. Anything that is not natural has its risks. It's always good to consult with your ob-gyn on your options so that you can get one that will work for you and your husband.

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  12. i doubt. abstinence is the most difficult thing to do now that s-e-x has been already considered as a physiological need. regarding with pills, such adverse effects may happen only because a consultation or a check up have not happened preceding it. esp in far flung areas when most believe more from neighbors rather than the health providers, that's one of the many reasons to blame for. besides dispensing are always done with prior consulation. i am one of the health providers actually.hihi

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