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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

That New Pill

I don't know how many times I would have jumped at the idea, when I was younger, to take a pill to make my periods go away. Now that I'm older, they've come out with such a pill (a contraceptive) and I'm less enthusiastic. In fact, I'm a little worried. I know everyone has already hashed out the contraceptive arguments, so I think I'll gloss by those for now, not wanting to repeat what has already been said. What I really want to say is that there is a whole list of reasons that taking a pill to stop your periods sounds like a bad idea.

1. The pill is a contraceptive. Every contraceptive method has a failure rate, and the most common way of knowing when a contraceptive has failed is by a missed period. A woman on this pill may go a long time before she realizes she's pregnant. In the meantime, she is not getting prenatal care, she is not likely to know her due date, and the pills may be harming her unborn child. Where a chance of pregnancy exists, the idea of eliminating the most common method of pregnancy detection seems at least unwise.

2. The period exists for a reason. It is not an illness to be corrected, and in fact for a reproductive age woman not to have them can cause health problems. Especially if the body thinks it is pregnant (which is how this and other typical birth control pills work), the endometrium lines the uterus for implantation and nutrition. Without periods, this endometrial lining cannot wash itself out and refresh. I very seriously doubt that the long term effects (like 5-20 years) of this pill on the endometrium and uterus have been fully tested. I have a strong suspicion that in a decade we'll be seeing a whole lot more Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and bacterial infections, as well as damage to the uterine wall from old endometrial tissue.

3. Most women who go on hormonal contraceptives want to have babies someday. Again, I doubt sufficient testing on long-term use and future fertility.

If anyone knows of any studies on the long term repercussions of this pill, I would be grateful if you could point me to them.