Problems associated with Hormonal Birth Control

by Edward Bernardo, MD, Fr. Juan R. Vélez, MD, Mario Maldonado, MD and Michael Fragoso, MD

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Oral birth control (and all other hormonal birth control—HBC) is typically used to prevent pregnancy, but is sometimes prescribed for other medical conditions. HBC causes many potential adverse effects: medical, social and spiritual. The vast majority of HBC prescriptions are given by physicians to healthy women, including adolescents with no known disease. These women are prescribed hormonal birth control for one reason—to prevent the completely normal condition of pregnancy.

Since all medications have potentially unwanted side effects, some of them serious, it is important that a physician weigh the risks and benefits when prescribing any medication. It follows that it is unethical to expose healthy women to health risks in order to prevent a normal condition. This is particularly true given the fact that there are alternative family planning methods, such as Natural Family Planning (NFP), which have no side effects when used correctly.

As physicians, we do not prescribe hormonal birth control. The medical reasons for this decision are as follows.

HBC Treats Women’s Fertility and Childbearing as a Disease

Although there can be legitimate medical and personal reasons for avoiding pregnancy, female fertility and the possibility of pregnancy itself are not diseases, and therefore do not need a pill (or patch, shot, IUD) for “treatment.”

HBC Causes Abortion

When HBC fails to suppress ovulation and other mechanisms of action in a sexually active woman, conception may occur. HBC interferes with the implantation of a new human being by reducing the thickness of the lining of the uterus and altering implantation molecules and factors. Typical low dose HBC formulations only prevent the release of the female egg in about 65-75% of cycles.1,2 For this reason, pregnancy, and subsequent chemical abortion, is possible on average every third cycle.

HBC Contributes to an
Anti-Life Mentality

HBC (whether the Pill, patch, IUD or Shot) underpins the practice of abortion. People unwittingly conclude: “If birth control fails, abortion is the solution.” A nation-wide survey indicated that 54% of the women who had an abortion were using birth control the month before.3

HBC Increases the Risk of
Breast Cancer

Women face an increased risk of developing breast cancer while taking HBC and for at least ten years after the use of HBC is stopped. If the Pill is taken before a woman’s first pregnancy, there is a 44% increased risk of breast cancer.4,5

HBC Increases the Risk of
Blood Clots to the Lung

Although the increased risk is small, it is significant because it is a side effect of an unnecessary medication prescribed to healthy women. The risk is highest for HBC-using women who are overweight, smoke, or who are over 35 years of age.6

HBC Causes a Continuous Change in Healthy Body Metabolism

HBC can produce migraine headaches, weight increase, moodiness, and loss of libido. It contributes to early increased bone loss.7 It is associated with infertility after prolonged use, and even to some extent with short-term use.

HBC Increases the Incidence of
Uterine Cervix Cancer

The use of HBC is associated with a significant increase in cancer of the cervix.8 It is likely that this is caused by infection with Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) which issexually transmitted since a considerable number of women who use HBC have a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases due to sexual relations outside of marriage.

HBC Increases the Risk of
Liver Tumors

There is some evidence that oral birth control increases the risk of certain benign and malignant liver tumors.9

HBC Increases the Risk of
Heart Attacks

Both the first and second generation oral birth control formulations have been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) and ischemic strokes.10 The third generation oral birth control pills are associated with increased risk in ischemic stroke.11

Harmful Effects of HBC on
Marriage and Society

Hormonal birth control fosters the mentality that men and women are incapable of self-control and are thus not able to abstain from sexual intercourse. The introduction of HBC was the catalyst for the sexual revolution with dramatic increases in premarital sex, adultery, divorce, abortion, and out-of-wedlock births. HBC has had an indirect role in the dramatic increase in single-parent families, poverty and associated social ills in the U.S.12,13

Natural Family Planning Is Just as Effective as Hormonal Birth Control in Preventing the Birth of a Child

NFP is free of the harmful side effects to women and families, and when used for just and serious reasons NFP can be very good for married couples.14

References

1. Chowdhury V, et al. Escape ovulation in women due to the missing of low dose combination oral contraceptive pills. Contraception. 1980; 22(3):241-247.

2. Baerwald AR, et al. Effects of oral contraceptives administered at defined stages of ovarian follicular development. Fertil Steril. 2006 Jul; 86(1):27-35. Epub 2006 Jun 9.

3. RK Jones, et al. Contraceptive use among U.S. women having abortions in 2000-2001. Perspec Sex Reprod Health. 2002; 34(6):294-303.

4. Kahlenborn C. Breast Cancer, Its Link to Abortion and the Birth Control Pill. 2000.

5. Kahlenborn C, et al. Oral contraceptive use as a risk factor for pre-menopausal breast cancer: a meta-analysis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006; 81(10):1290-1302.

6. Poulter NR. Risk of fatal pulmonary embolism with oral contraceptives. Lancet. 2000; 355(9221):2088.

7. Wooltorton E. Medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) and bone mineral density loss. CMAJ. 2005 Mar 15; 172(6):746. Epub 2005 Mar 2.

8. Smith J., Cervical Cancer and use of hormonal contraceptives: a systemic review, Lancet, 2003; 361:1159-1167.

9. Giannitrapani L, et al. Sex hormones and risk of liver tumor. Ann NY Acad Sci, 2006 Nov; 1089:228-236.

10. Tanis BC, et. al. Oral contraceptives and the risk of myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 2001; 345(25):1787-1793.

11. Baillargeon JP, et al. Association between the current use of low dose oral contraceptives and cardiovascular arterial disease: a meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005; 90(7):3863-3870.

12. Akerlof GA, et al. An analysis of out-of-wedlock childbearing in the United States. Q J Econ. 1996 May; 111(2):277-317.

13. Akerlof GA. Men without children. Econ J. 1998 Mar; 108(447):287-309.

14. Hilgers TW, Standford JB. The use effectiveness to avoid pregnancy of Creighton model naproeducation technology: a meta-analysis of prospective trials. J Reprod Med. 1998; 43:495-502.

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Problems Associated with Hormonal Birth Control