Medical Consequences of Contraception

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In Humanae Vitae, Blessed Pope Paul VI made several predictions of what widespread use of contraceptives would lead to. These included an increase in marital infidelity, lowering of moral standards, men considering women as “a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires” (e.g. Harvey Weinstein and many others) and the imposition of contraception by governmental authorities. These have all come to pass. How could he have been so accurate in his predictions? I think this is because the Blessed Pope had a firm grasp of the profound unity of spirit, mind and body that is the human person. The Catechism teaches us, “The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.” (CCC 365).

This union has consequences that effect the entire person. Thus, spiritual sickness (sins) and spiritual health (virtues) have physical/psychological and sociological consequences. Blessed Pope Paul VI saw this and was able to make accurate predictions (prophecies?) because of this understanding. He knew life begins with the marital act, and this act has unitive and procreative aspects which should not be separated. Indeed, how can the “two become one flesh” if there is a barrier between them, or if one of the partners withholds an essential part of themselves? This division of the one flesh union results in the consequences that Paul VI predicted. But the use of “oral contraceptives”, which are in fact potent steroid hormones that cause temporary sterility of the woman (sterilizing steroids), have additional moral and biological implications. It is a violation of the moral law to treat a normal, functioning, healthy body system as if it were a disease. Yet this is precisely what sterilizing steroids do. They treat the reproductive system of the woman as if it were a disease that needs to be fixed. So understandably, sterilizing steroids have additional side effects, beyond those of barrier methods of contraception.

If you read the package insert for “Yaz” (one of the most popular contraceptives), there you will see increased risk of:

  • Serious Cardiovascular Events and Stroke
  • Vascular Events
  • Venous thromboembolism
  • Liver Disease
  • Hepatic adenomas
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Adverse lipid changes

 

These only cover the “serious risks” of sterilizing steroids. Other side effects include headache/migraine, menstrual irregularities, nausea/vomiting, breast pain/tenderness and mood changes. But there are more side effects that are not listed. The estrogen in contraceptives has been classified as a carcinogen, and there is a clear association with the use of these sterilizing steroids and the risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer. In addition, although less widely known, there is a clear association of the use of sterilizing steroids with certain autoimmune diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and systemic lupus erythematosus. This information, while available in the medical literature, is not widely known by the public. Why? Why should a medication which treats no disease, cures no pathology and provides little benefit to women with sometimes severe side effects be tolerated by our society? What does this say about us?

Certainly, we can point to concupiscence inherent in the human condition. We can point to the sexual addiction of our society. We can also point to the media who selectively report what they deem is newsworthy. But we, who know the truth about the human person, must bear some of the blame as well. We have failed to communicate the truth in love as our Lord instructed us. We live in a society of one-liners, twitter feeds and catchphrases. And I often hear Catholics complain that the truth of Catholic teaching is too complicated to communicate in one-liners. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did. “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (Jn 8:7). “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28). And on and on. Our problem is that we are losing the war of the one-liners, although if we truly follow Jesus we should be masters at it. So here are some pro-life one liners we should be using, developing, and improving.

 

Real men use NFP.

All family planning should be natural.

Love is life giving. Lust is sterile.

We should love people and use things, not use people and love things (Bishop Fulton Sheen).

Oral contraceptives are really sterilizing steroids.

But they are not performance enhancing, but performance inhibiting.

Good morals is good medicine! (Attributed to Bishop Robert Vasa)

Fetus is Latin for little one. (Remember Jesus said whatever you did for these little ones you did for me Mt 25:40).

True love holds nothing back.

Using someone is not loving them.

True love is free, total, faithful and fruitful.

In vitro fertilization reduces a human person to a commodity that can be bought and sold.

A child need not be planned, nor even wanted.

But they all must be welcomed with open hearts as gifts from God.

Fertility is not a disease to be treated but a blessing to cherish.

God gives us a choice between life giving love and sterile sex. Choose wisely. Choose life.

 

As disciples of Jesus, the Master of the one-liners, we need to learn our faith and how to communicate it quickly and simply. This is a starting list. Please add your own.

View more one-liners and add your own at https://celebratehv50.com/one-liners/

Deacon William V. Williams, M.D., husband of Lorraine, father of Ron, Christina and Jon, is a board-certified rheumatologist and a medical researcher. He served from 2009-2017 and the Editor-in-Chief of The Linacre Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association.  He is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently the President and CEO of BriaCell Therapeutics Corporation.  He has helped to coordinate and participate in a series of comprehensive literature reviews of the medical, psychological, sociological and spiritual effects of contraceptives on women focusing on hormonal agents.

 

 

 

 

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