Regardless of what contraceptive proponents tell you
On this day when Vaclav Havel passed away. In this post, I come out explicitly with an argument against the use of contraceptive pills and related agents (all Endocrine-Active Compounds [EACs]), because of the serious consequences of the sex steroid chemicals for women’s health. I start with evidence from Google statistics.
It is possible to examine the English-language literature for the frequency of addressing certain topics over a period of time. I already did this in the recent post “Seven billion people – after half a century with the Pill”.
Let’s look at data from Google Ngram Viewer about the statistics of the occurrence of certain topics (such as difficult birth) in all books published in English. The data is obtained via http://books.google.com/ngrams/info – for anyone to examine.
Briefly, when we enter phrases into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, it displays a graph showing how frequently those phrases occurred in a corpus of books (here English-language books) over the selected years (here 1900 to 2000). The data is normalized by the number of books published in each year.
Here we have a comparison of statistics of three phrases:
pregnancy complications (blue),
difficult birth (red), and
trying to conceive (green).
The topic of difficult birth exhibits an almost linear growth over the century, even though there are discernible steps in the early years such as the step that followed the plateau (flat portion) lasting from about 1915 to just before 1930, when it “shoots up to catch up with” the overall trend. And, overall, the red curve grows steadily from 1900 to 2000.
In contrast, the blue curve of pregnancy complications and the green curve of trying-to-conceive both shoot up only after 1960, the decade of the introduction of the contraceptive pill. The steep rise in pregnancy complications books (blue) starts soon after 1960. The rise in the number of books about trying-to-conceive (green) starts in mid-1970s and is also distinctly faster than the steady growth over the century of books on difficult birth (red), although it is slower than the pregnancy complications that started going up some ten years earlier.
Of course, the green trying-to-conceive curve is not uninteresting in the early decades of the century, either, if only because it appears that the late Victorians had a significant interest in the topic, much higher than in the other two and especially as compared to pregnancy complications (blue). I’ll leave any discussion of the trend there to others, although the downward trend in the first half of the century would seem consistent with the rise of the birth control movement and with the consequences of two World Wars, and the Great Depression in between.
Those two generations had it tough but, on the other hand, their health, the health of humankind, was not yet assaulted by the sex-steroid chemicals that were introduced in the 1960s.
In a previous bioZhena’s Weblog post, you can see evidence that oral contraceptive use directly and negatively impacts the cervical crypts, which brings about the difficulty to conceive. The bottom line is this: “After 3 and up to 15 months of contraceptive pill use, there is a greater loss of the S crypt cells than can be replaced.” The S crypts are needed for conception.
To further cite Professor Erik Odeblad: “Complications arising from the use of the Pill are very frequent. Infertility after its use for 7-15 years is a very serious problem. S crypts are very sensitive to normal and cyclical stimulation by natural estrogens, and the Pill causes atrophy of these crypts. Fertility is impaired since the movement of sperm cells up the canal is reduced. Treatment is difficult.”
This is a serious problem because, according to medical literature, most American women, “approximately 85% of U.S. women will use the OC (oral contraception) for an average of five years.1 However, women’s OC use, similar to other chronic medications, is often inconsistent and transient.2 Reported six-month OC discontinuation rates vary from 18% to 50%.3,4,5 Unintended pregnancy often follows OC discontinuation” END OF QUOTE. (Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007 April; 196(4): 412.e1–412.e7)
These data can be read and understood as the double-whammy put on or dealt to American reproductive and public health. That is the high prevalence of trying-to-conceive problems (sub-fertility and infertility) and at the same time the very high rate of unintended pregnancies.
While many proponents of chemical contraception minimize or gloss over the side effects of contraceptive chemicals, it is known that “OCPs (oral contraceptive pills) have several known metabolic effects including increased production of clotting factors resulting in increased risk of venous thromboembolism, increased gallstone formation during the first year of use, and increased risk of liver adenomas (Speroff and DeCherney 1993)” – cited from Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008 October; 4(5): 905–911 (paper from University of Vermont College of Medicine and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Women’s Health Care Services)
That said, studies mainly focus on side effects such as amenorrhea, the incidence of breakthrough bleeding and spotting, compliance, discontinuation rates or patient satisfaction, headaches, genital irritation, tiredness, bloating, and menstrual pain.
To cite from said medical publication “Evaluation of extended and continuous use oral contraceptives”, Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008 October; 4(5): 905–911 QUOTE [emphasis mine]:
In a normally menstruating woman who is not taking contraceptive hormones, progesterone is only present in appreciable quantities during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle [meaning: after ovulation], after the development of the endometrium. When combination OCPs are administered, the effect of the progestational agent takes precedence over the estrogen component in the reproductive tract, and the endometrium demonstrates this progestin effect (Moyer and Felix 1998). The result is a thin, decidualized (transformed) endometrium with atrophied glands that is not receptive to embryo implantation. Progestins also cause thick, impermeable cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching the uterine cavity, and also decrease tubal mobility, altering the movement of sperm and oocytes through the fallopian tube (Johnson et al 2007; Rossmanith et al 1997) END OF QUOTE.
This is consistent with the Erik Odeblad findings about the fine structure of the cervical tissues. http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/18/9/1782
Further to the examples of studies about the mainly short-term effects of chemical contraception, here are examples of published findings about the harmful long-term effects of the sex steroid chemicals administered to healthy women. This is not a systematic review, merely a couple of examples.
The conclusion of “Effects of Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate and 20 μg Oral Contraceptives on Bone Mineral Density” [Obstet Gynecol. 2008 October; 112(4): 788–799]is as follows:
QUOTE Use of very low-dose OCP (Oral Contraceptive Pill) may result in a small amount of bone loss. DMPA (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate) use results in greater bone loss, but this is largely reversible at the spine. Use of very low-dose OCPs after DMPA discontinuation may slow bone recovery.
As a result, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in 2004 advising women to limit its use to ≤2 years.
Oral contraception (OC) containing only 20 μg ethinyl estradiol (EE) may also adversely affect bone health, especially if used during adolescence. END OF QUOTE [emphasis mine].
According to J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 November 9 (Published in final edited form as: J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 August; 92(8): 3089–3094), “whether OCP use in healthy young women is associated with increased CV (cardiovascular) risk is controversial. However, a recent meta-analysis of 14 studies showed that current use of low-dose OCPs increased the risk for myocardial infarction by 84% (37). More data are available regarding CV risk associated with estrogen/progestin use in older women… The Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study showed an early increase in events and no benefit overall in women with known CV disease, and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial demonstrated an increase in CV events in healthy women (38, 39).” END QUOTE.
In Greek mythology Europa (Greek Ευρώπη Eurṓpē) was… seduced by the god Zeus in the form of a bull, who breathed from his mouth a saffron crocus and carried her away to Crete on his back… and so see Wikipedia for the whole story. Oh, and should this not be clear, the metaphor here pertains to the man-made OCP [Oral Contraceptive Pill] accomplishment…
Returning to Odeblad’s results on the consequences of the Pill for the cervix uteri, that is on how contraceptive chemicals make it difficult to conceive later – and reiterating the take-home message put forward previously in “About atrophy, reproductive aging, and how it’s really not nice to fool Mother Nature – or with”:
Natural aging of cervical S crypts (= cervical aging of a woman never pregnant and never on the Pill):
S crypts, which are needed for conception, are down to 20% at 40 years of age, at the natural aging rate -2% per year. Here you have the reason why a too mature age leads to sub-fertility and to infertility. My remark: The optimal age for motherhood has always been and always will be the early twenties of a woman’s life.
Atrophy acceleration effect of 10 years on the Pill:
S crypts are down to mere 10% at 40 years of age. Here is why it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, why it’s not good to mess with her design. Fertility is drastically reduced. The Pill is an archetypal anthropogenic Endocrine-Active Compound [man-made EAC]. It was brought up previously in this blog how there are very many of these EACs, all insulting the female body and health; some – like chemical contraceptives – by design. Having invoked the design, I am reminded that the original designers of the Pill had no idea about contraception – they were pushing the frontiers of steroid chemistry… (not this particular application of one kind of steroids).
Atrophy slow-down or beneficial effect of pregnancies:
S crypts only down to 40% at 40 years of age. Here you see Mother Nature’s design in action. Pregnancy slows down the inherent rate of natural cervical aging (atrophy, deterioration). The effect of 4 pregnancies was measured in the Odeblad research. This is not to argue for 4 pregnancies per lifetime – it’s merely how the difference between with and without was made more “easily” measurable in the very difficult studies.
And again, the bottom line is this: “After 3 and up to 15 months of contraceptive pill use, there is a greater loss of the S crypt cells than can be replaced. …S crypts are very sensitive to normal and cyclical stimulation by natural estrogens, and the Pill causes atrophy of these crypts. Fertility is impaired since the movement of sperm cells up the canal is reduced.” END QUOTE.
In case you’d like to view the Carlo Adelio Galimberti picture accompanying the concluding words, please re-visit the cited earlier post. The concluding words were and still would be: While the story of Laodamia and Protesilao is touching, I merely want to ask that girls, ladies and their physicians do not moon the messenger.
Vaclav Havel would smile at the image of “mooning” Laodamia. I smile at the thought of his riding the children’s scooter (kolobezka) along Saint Peter’s heavenly corridors (looking for Olga? Since Pani Dagmar remained down there?). He reportedly did that scooter-running in the “labyrinthine” corridors of Prague Castle…
And now, go and check out the 2012 post “The fallacy of ovulation calculators, calendars and circulating-hormone detectors” at http://biozhena.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-fallacy-of-ovulation-calculators-calendars-and-circulating-hormone-detectors/