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Debate continues over safety of the Pill
Oral contraceptives are convenient, but studies show a few health risks
 
May 2009
First introduced to the American public for contraceptive use in 1960, "the Pill" freed a generation of women from the fear of unwanted pregnancy and allowed for an exploration of sexuality that, up until that point, had been unimaginable.
By 2002, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11.6 million American women were on the Pill, making it the nation's leading method of contraception.
What, exactly, are these millions of women putting in their bodies, and what effects does it have? The debate over the pros and cons of oral contraception is a heated one, with both sides using studies and research findings to back up what they claim is an indisputable argument.
Benefits
The Pill's most obvious effect is the suppression of ovulation. The two types of hormones typically found in oral contraception, estrogen and progestin, keep an egg from completely developing each month; in addition, the Pill makes cervical mucus thicker and more difficult for sperm to get through, while also changing uterine lining enough so that an egg, were it to be released, wouldn't be able to land in the uterus to develop.
There are some benefits too. Studies have found that oral contraceptives can lower the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers, ease symptoms of severe PMS, reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, and improve female pattern hair loss.
Risks
Oral contraceptives have negative health effects as well. The Pill’s relationship with blood-clot risk and stroke is well-documented, and that risk increases when a woman is smoker, particularly a smoker over age 35.
In addition, studies in recent years have found that birth-control pill use impairs muscle gains in young women, increases the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women, and increases the risk of cervical cancer (the risk returns to normal levels after the woman has been off it for 10 years).
And the Pill may interfere with a protein that keeps testosterone unavailable for women's sexual function, thus decreasing libido and sexual desire.
"It is important for physicians prescribing oral contraceptives to point out to their patients potential sexual side effects, such as decreased desire, arousal, decreased lubrication, and increased sexual pain," wrote Claudia Panzer, an endocrinologist and lead author of a study on testosterone and the pill, published in 2006 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. "It is crucial to recognize the link between sexual dysfunction and the oral contraceptive and not to attribute these complaints solely to psychological causes."
The Pill's convenience and effectiveness make it ideal for some, while others are unwilling to potentially risk their health. Research published in January in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology claims that since 2000, death rates have increased in women between the ages of 35 and 44. All other age groups, meanwhile, have seen a decline.  The research cites the significant increase in the use of birth control pills as a possible contributing factor.
Web Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30626482/from/ET/ Source: By Sally Law, 2009 LiveScience.com, MSNBC.com
Dr. Iverson's Comment
 
This has been a subject that is brought up to me frequently in the clinic. What birth control would be best for my body? Well, again I look to what Nature says.  Looking to the animals, I don’t know any of them that are taking contraceptives and inducing artificial menstruation or completely cutting off the menstruation all together. No, it just isn’t natural!
 
The female body is meant to cycle monthly, often in phase with the moon. Estrogen increases in the beginning of the month and progesterone increases at the end of the month. Both of these hormones are necessary at these balanced levels to make strong bones, maintain youthful and feminine qualities, balance mood, and promote healthy sexual desires. If these levels are manipulated either by illness or with artificial hormones, signs and symptoms may develop. 
 
The most common concern, as mentioned above, is the possibility to make blood clots resulting in a stroke or embolism. The Pill has also shown to increase the risk of breast and cervical cancer. Interestingly, cancers related to the sex organs are actually protected against when women have babies. The natural elevation of the hormones during pregnancy, birth, and breast feeding adds a protective element. Many women find the annoying side effects of the Pill are the changes in mood and weight gain that often accompany it.  Not to mention the underlying pheromone effect this drug could be having—please see the article on the Science of Sex Attraction also in this month’s top stories.
 
The pros? Well, the biggest is the sense of security to know one is not pregnant. That is primary for so many women. Taking the pill for endometriosis or for painful periods or for irregular cycles I feel is a mismanagement of the medication. The great majority of these women are really being medicated to make up for a nutritional deficiency; commonly protein, fat, and mineral deficiency. Improving diet, water, exercise, and stress levels improve nutrition levels and balance hormones, which in themselves are enough to balance the cycles. 
 
I suggest a woman to restore her natural cycles by choosing to combine other methods of birth control. Combining several methods improves the likelihood of not becoming pregnant. Using condoms, diaphragms, sponges, cervical caps, rhythm method and pregnancy beads, basal temperature, cervical mucus monitoring, and coitus-interruptus (pull-out method) have all shown to be effective and even more effective when combined two or more.
 
Stay as close to Nature as possible. It is best not to manipulate the natural processes of life if it can be at all avoided.
 
Be well!!
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