One of the issues I have with the pill are the creative marketing practices that expand the market to include a variety of women who use oral contraceptives for reasons other than birth control. Everyone seems to be looking for a quick and easy solution for just about everything and the pill seems to offer just that. In addition to using the pill for birth control it has also been marketed to be used for:
- painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
- irregular periods
- reducing cancer risk
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- painful ovulation
The problem with marketing is that it is effective. Hormonal contraceptives are prescribed to “treat” these conditions and to “regulate” a woman’s menstrual cycle. However these health concerns are caused by underlying health issues often related to an imbalance of hormones in the body. Mainstream medicine is at a loss for actually healing, reversing, or eliminating health issues related to fertility in women. I suffered from heavy painful periods since my very first period, and when I was 15 years old I barely said 3 words to my family doctor before he began writing me a prescription for the pill. The standard “treatment” for painful periods is ibuprofen and the pill. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that these “treatments” do not address the underlying health issue that is causing the crippling cramps, heavy bleeding, endometriosis, ovulation pain and other related issues. Stop taking the pill and the same issues that were there before come back again…with a vengeance!
We all know that there is something wrong with this picture, and on some level we know that these issues could have a negative impact on our fertility. The language around pregnancy and conception illustrates this. When a couple decides they’re ready for a baby they start “trying” for a baby, because we all know that our efforts may not be successful. We just don’t know why that is. We all know people who have had difficulty conceiving, who have had miscarriages, and who have had to use medical fertility treatments.
If you are on the pill or any form of hormonal contraceptives and are at that point where you’re starting to wonder what else is out there or if it might be time to transition off of the hormones there are several questions you might want to ask yourself:
- What was the main reason that I started taking the birth control pill?
- Is that reason still valid for me today?
- Do I fully understand the health risks associated with hormonal birth control?
- An I truly aware of all of my non-hormonal alternatives?
There are a number of significant health risks associated with all hormonal contraceptives like the pill, the patch, Norplant and depo provera (the shot). The risks associated with the pill are minimized to such a large extent; for this reason it is even more important to understand them:
- Blood clots
- Heart Attack
- Permanently alters gut flora in the digestive tract 
- Impairs proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients in the gut 
- Increased breast cancer risk 
- deep vein thrombosis – formation of a blood clot in a deep vein 
- pulmonary embolism – when a blood clot detaches and floats over to the lungs 
- Nausea, headaches, dizziness
- Irregular bleeding
- Loss of libido
- Mood changes
- Breast tenderness
- Delayed return of fertility
There have been several news report about Yaz or Yasmin, a heavily marketed and relatively new brand of birth control pill, because thousands of women in the United States have filed lawsuits due to the adverse side effects they experienced including severe injury and death:
Yaz gained widespread popularity in the United States after hitting the market in 2006. In addition to preventing pregnancy, Yaz was also marketed by Bayer as a treatment for acne and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For these reasons, similar drugs Yasmin and Ocella also became popular.
Plaintiffs in claims over Yaz and Yasmin include allegations that the drugs were marketed and advertised in a way that exaggerated benefits such as acne reduction and downplayed serious dangers associated with the drug. Thousands of injuries and about 100 deaths are linked to Yaz through these severe side effects. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal in October 2011, YAZ and Yasmin users experienced twice as much blood clot risk as women who used older contraceptives.
According to Bayer, as of March 2014 it had settled 8,250 cases for $1.7 billion. More cases are pending in state and federal courts nationwide. (source)
The time has come to start questioning the pill and acknowledging the down side. After all, the pill is a product that drug companies make billion dollars from selling to women. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent marketing the pill to women each year. The motivation is profit driven, so it’s up to each of us to look out for our own best interests and for many of us that does not include hormonal contraceptives.