Contraceptives: Banishing the Myth

Birth control is a very controversial topic in politics lately. President Obama recently passed a mandate that required health insurance plans to provide women with contraception with no out of pocket cost. People seem to think that women who take birth control are “sluts,” that they sleep around a lot, but there are other reasons to take birth control such as medical conditions.

Contraceptives have been around for a very long time, dating back to 1550 BC when ancient Egyptians would mix certain fruits to prevent conception. Contraceptives were outlawed in the United States for a little less than 100 years, so companies would advertise them as hygiene products which gave misleading information. Companies started to develop synthetic forms of progesterone which the FDA originally approved for menstrual disorders, but then finally approved it for birth control in 1960. The Comstock laws that prohibited contraceptives were finally struck down by the Supreme Court in 1965 [1].

Birth control pills are a common prescription for conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. Condoms are another form of birth control that has benefits other than preventing unwanted pregnancy, they also prevent from most sexually transmitted infections. Abstinence is also extremely effective at preventing STIs as well as HIV/AIDS

In 1930 the pope made a statement stating that birth control is a sin, although the Church has made exceptions for irregular periods. Some believe that birth control is not natural and blocks God’s will from happening. “Every time there’s sex, people must leave open the chance that God will intervene with a child.” However many women use contraceptives. “Ninety-eight per cent of Catholic women have used contraception during their lives”

Birth control has many health benefits including helping with painful/heavy periods, acne, as well as cysts on the ovaries. Birth control pills also help with excess hair, especially facial hair, because they suppress androgen and testosterone which cause facial hair growth [2]. Our ancestors had far fewer menstrual cycles during their lifetime than women now do, and studies have shown that the more cycles a woman has the higher risk she has for contracting uterine and ovarian cancer [3].

Birth control is used to help with many conditions including polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS, and premenstrual, PMS, syndrome. PCOS typically is associated with having irregular menstrual periods, excess hair, and acne, and sometime cysts on the ovaries. PMS is another syndrome that birth control help; they stop ovulation and lower hormonal swings [4].

My sister was diagnosed with PCOS during her senior year of high school. She was prescribed birth control pills to help regulate her period. People in her school would talk about her and call her a slut; they assumed that because she was taking birth control that she must be sexually active. In her mind it is their personal business and no one should be judged for something they can’t help.

[1]  “A Brief History of Birth Control.” Time.com. Time Magazine, 03 May 2010. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1983970,00.html&gt;.

[2]  “Birth Control Pills.” – Birth Control Pill. Planned Parenthood, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/birth-control-pill-4228.htm&gt;.

[3]  Potts, Malcolm. “A Contraception Game-changer.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 20 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/20/opinion/la-oe-potts-the-pill-revisited-20120220&gt;.

[4]  Mayo Clinic Staff. “Definition.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 04 Aug. 2011. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/DS00423&gt;.

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