Monday, August 23, 2010

The Truth about the Pill

Heard this story on NPR today: With Birth Control Pills, New Isn't Always Better

A 16-year old with a blood clot that could have easily killed her...this is scary stuff. And yet the makers of birth control pills would have you believe that these side effects are "rare" and that the benefits of the Pill far outweigh the risks. It's good to see that Yaz has been exposed as dangerous, but the story also obscured the fact that these side effects are common to all types of birth control pills. We women pump these artificial hormones into our bodies every day for decades and expect there to be no problems. It's unrealistic to say the least.

I was also annoyed to see that not a single doctor challenged the assumption that this 16-year old girl needed to be on the Pill. Acne and irregular periods are inconvenient, yes, but they are common problems in all teenage girls and usually go away as women move into their 20s. There are plenty of other treatments for acne, and the idea that every woman must have a 28-day cycle every month or she's "abnormal" is quite absurd. Now, conditions like severe pain during the menstrual cycle are a different story. But doctors seem unwilling to address the underlying causes when it's so much easier just to prescribe the Pill. Hopefully stories like this will make some doctors rethink that approach.

A hopeful sign: in the comments, a handful of people are actually being open about the emotional and physical side effects of the Pill instead of touting it as a panacea. I'm starting to observe a wider acceptance of NFP/FAM in secular circles, which is fantastic. There are still plenty who scoff at it, of course, but there is an increased openness to the idea of natural birth control. Finally, people are waking up to the absurdity of an approach that suggests that our bodies are inherently "broken" and that the normal functioning of our reproductive systems is something to be "fixed."

1 comment:

James Garrison said...

The birth control pill is one of these cases where the experts and the general public choose to turn a blind eye. I cannot think of any other case in modern medicine where a perfectly functioning, non-damaged bodily system is rendered non-functioning for no medical benefit, and in fact at considerable medical risk, both in the acute and chronic sense.

Further, in any other way that persons pump their bodies full of chemicals to permit some altered form of behavior, it is generally at least frowned upon if even accepted. Consider here a few examples. Coffee and other caffeine-bearing drinks, for instance, are used to permit one to sleep a little less, but it is well known and understood that this can cause medical problems, and if pressed, a doctor wouldn't recommend heavy enough coffee use to significantly disrupt the regular rhythms of the body. Likewise with amphetamines. Sure, a person could combine strong stimulants in the day with strong depressants to force a little sleep at night, and get an extra couple hours of productivity out of a day. People have tried, but it is not seen as something that should be a regular, widespread medical practice.

All of this is in addition to the effect of the Pill on marriage and society, and the ecological damage that we are now discovering. Both of these might each be worse than the problems to the individual as mentioned above.

Truth and Reason always win out to intentional ignorance and denial, it just takes a while. As the evidence of the problems mount, people will come to realize and accept that there is no life without consequences. You've pointed out that there are inklings of this already starting to happen, and as the baggage of the 60's and 70's fade into more distant memories, people will start to wake up to this realization.