Posts Tagged ‘the Pill’

Seven billion people – after half a century with the Pill

November 14, 2011

More than a week before the numerologically so exciting (!!) date of November 11 this year of AD 2011, the population of the world officially reached the count of 7 billion – and this should not go unnoticed in a blog that is about women’s health and human reproduction management. Why, by the time the 11-11-11 day came about, more than 2.5 million more babies were born around the world.

Eyeball the “infographic” data below here, accepting that the image contains one of the small European languages. You can handle this because it is a graphic representation of the world and its population. The data is based on a United Nations Report about the State of the World Population. I did not find anything like this infographic when I googled for said UN report, and the bigger languages of Europe were presumably preoccupied by other concerns (like the economy, and the associated politics, stupid…).

So, we refer to this source with all those un-English letters with diacritical marks [RB, Lidové noviny. From: ]. It’s the numbers and symbols that matter, including the relative sizes of the circles. And note also that the blue circles represent the size of the respective continents’ populations in 2010 versus the red projected population sizes in the year 2050.

By 2050, only Europe’s population will have decreased (projected by 19 million), while all the other continents’ populations will have continued to grow. North America’s population, by the way, is projected to grow only due to immigration, otherwise it would be dropping, too. At least the USA’s would.

World population

World population

12 years times 365 days/year = 4,380 days

Population growth = 1,000,000,000 people / 4,380 days =  228,310.5 people born per day  (2,511,415.5 babies in 11 days = 1 billion divided by 4,380 days in 12 years times 11 days)

Check out the arithmetic of the global population growth in recent days, if you like. It is based on the birth rate of 1 billion births per 12 years. That is indicated in the bottom part of the infographic, showing the worldwide number of people in increasing billions against the years at which the given billion count was reached up to now, and is projected to be reached in the future [rok means year and pocet obyvatel means number of people]. It’s noticeable that the UN-projected future growth rate slows down: see how 16, 29, 27 years between additional billion increments are projected for the next 3 one-billion increments.

I won’t go into the (serious) economic and political consequences of these numbers. Rather, I ask you to note that the current birth rate (1 billion per 12 years) has held steady for the last 3 or 4 one-billion increases in world population. Over most of the last half a century, world population grew in steps of one billion per 12 years.

We see that reaching the first billion of humans took more than 18 centuries (including BC). The second billion then took 123 years and the third 33 years, both these surely influenced by the two world wars. After that, the Pill notwithstanding, almost quarter of a million new people have been and are born globally every day (1B / 4,380 days of 12 years = 228,310.5 births per day).

Evidently, the introduction of the oral contraceptive pills and related contraceptives has NOT quite stopped the global population explosion. But then, what about the United Nations-projected drop in the population of Europe (which is a continent where the Pill is surely available)?

Well, I propose to share with you some data from Google Ngram Viewer, about the statistics on the recent historical occurrence of certain topics (such as contraception) in all books published in English, the data obtained via .

Briefly, when you enter phrases into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, it displays a graph showing how much those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books (here English-language books) over the selected years (here 1900 to 2008).

And an important point, also cited from there.

Question: Many more books are published in modern years. Doesn’t this skew the results?

Answer: It would if we didn’t normalize by the number of books published in each year.

Here is an example of the occurrence of three phrases (topics) in English-language books over the century from 1900 till 2008, the latest year available. The topics are: pregnancy complications, difficult birth, and birth complications.

Ngram 1: pregnancy complications, difficult birth, birth complications

Ngram 1: pregnancy complications, difficult birth, birth complications

The N numbers (or the number of phrase occurrences relative to all books) for the three topics are on the same scale as indicated on the vertical axis, and the graph shows that the number of books on difficult birth (red curve) rose steadily over the century – but the books on pregnancy complications (blue curve) and birth complications (green curve) shot up after 1960. These N numbers eventually level off and/or begin to decline after the year 2000. (As though everything has been written up, nothing new to publish?)

There were many more books written about birth control over the same period of 108 years. We can detect this in the N count on the vertical axis, which here has only 3 leading zeros as opposed to the 5 leading zeros at the maximum level in the previous graph (a hundred times as many books, even in 2008, after the decline from the mid-1970s). The initial rise from 1910 to 1930 must have been not on chemical contraception but (mostly) on the then happening calendar method of Ogino and Knaus, i.e. the later discarded so-called “Vatican Roulette”. That approach to birth control did not work – it could not work – so Margaret Sanger took it on herself (and on her wealthy-widow friend, Katharine McCormick) to cause the “magic bullet” of a pill to be developed. Some magic!

Ngram 2: birth control

Ngram 2: birth control

One more Ngram Viewer graph, since they say that three is a charm! The following graph compares the number of books on infertility (blue) with the number of books on contraception (red), and it is on the same scale as the birth control graph above (with only slightly lower maximum level, 0.00035% here vs. 0.00045% above).

Ngram 3: infertility and contraception

Ngram 3: infertility and contraception

Three may be a charm, but I will show you one more, so that you (or your friendly gynecologist) will not accuse me of trying to show that chemical contraception has caused infertility (the infertility epidemic). I have merely shared Google’s Ngram Viewer statistics on books written on given topics. Discourses written on contraception preceded those on infertility by at least 10 years, and the number of infertility books was still rising when contraceptive books were already declining in numbers in the 1980s.

Here then is one more Ngram comparing N numbers of books on behavior problems (blue), mental problems (red), and books on birthing (green curve).

Ngram 4: behavior problems, mental problems, birthing

Ngram 4: behavior problems, mental problems, birthing

You see that there are four leading zeros in the scale on the vertical axis, so the order of magnitude of the graphed N numbers is between the two orders of magnitude discussed above (it’s an order of magnitude below infertility and contraception). All three of the numbers in this Ngram rise around 1970, behavior problems books before, birthing books after.

Why did the numbers of books on birthing rise so sharply some 15 years after 1960? I don’t know that there is such a thing as invalid questions. The curves for mental health and birth are correlated, rising around 1970, too (not shown here).

Chemical contraception has not worked to reverse the global population explosive growth although it appears to have reduced the extent of the explosion.

But at what cost? Do look at the last Ngram, below, which compares the number of books on birth control (blue), sexually transmitted diseases (red), STD (green), VD (yellow), and STDs (dark blue). It is on the same scale as the birth control graph above (the second in the series). The green spike after 1960 is STD in singular, as opposed to sexually transmitted diseases (red) and STDs (dark blue), which you see rising slowly after 1980, paralleled by the higher green curve in those years, which starts going up even earlier.

This can be rationalized by the fact that earlier on there was merely one STD (or two), called VD in Britain and in Europe (yellow curve), where the rise occurred somewhat later than in the U.S., along with the slight delay in the “sexual revolution” and its consequences or rather the concerns about those consequences. The broad green, red and dark blue hills of elevated N readings before year 2000 reflect the multitude of STDs today, which numbers did not exist before the sexual revolution. The singular VD has morphed into the plural STDs and sexually transmitted diseases.

Ngram 5: birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, STD, VD, STDs

Ngram 5: birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, STD, VD, STDs

I leave the “now what” maybe for another time, but a follower of this blog will have an idea.

As of this writing, to cite the three bioZhena’s Weblog Top Posts (the past week):

Trying to conceive, #ttc, or the frustration of sub-fertility & infertility in 2010/2011          40 views

Saint Nicholas Day, his legend, and our modern day’s prematurity, EDD calculation, gestational age, problem with LMP          33 views

Critique of birth control efficacies in NFP as published by Marquette University researchers          21 views


About atrophy, reproductive aging, and how it’s really not nice to fool Mother Nature – or with

June 27, 2010

I have taken it upon myself to popularize Prof. Erik Odeblad’s classic findings about the biophysics of the tissues and secretions of cervix uteri, and how they translate into reproductive physiology and hence to reproductive medicine – at home and in the doctor’s office.

Emeritus Professsor Erik Odeblad

  Emeritus Professor Erik Odeblad    “The cervix is a precision organ as complex as the eye”

My ulterior motive is that I want to be understood when harking back to the British commercial’s exclamation that warned about too arrogant an attitude towards Mother Nature. Or, maybe I aim at the wisdom of the saying (“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”) to be appreciated particularly within the given field of endeavor and/or endeavour – that is, reproductive management. Even if it were only in a segment of it.

In the Alphabet of bioZhena (which is no Alphabet of Ben Sira, though we model on it somewhat), , there is an entry about Atrophy and what it does to a woman as years go by, how “atrophy of mucosal surfaces takes place, accompanied by several problems.”

Jan Amos Komenský (Comenius) Says Farewell to...

Jan Amos Komenský (Comenius) Says Farewell to…

In this blog post I focus on aging – and thus atrophy – of the cervix, leaving aside the inevitable corresponding phenomena in other parts of the reproductive system.

The focus on the cervix is due to bioZhena’s focus on the cervix… which in our scheme of things is the supreme monitor of the complex reproductive goings on that Mother Nature designed in order to cope with all that complexity. After you’ve read the Alphabet article on atrophy, you might scroll down to the entry there about the cervix, which will take you also through cervical cancer and cervical mucus, besides a couple of other things cervical. That will or would be a nice preparation for, or introduction to, what follows.

Prof. Erik Odeblad's sketches from 13 February 2008

Two sketches by Emeritus Professor Erik Odeblad to illustrate his saying, “The cervix is a precision organ as complex as the eye”. Click (right-click) on the image to see the details. And read on about the details. The fine structure of the cervical canal wall, schematized on the right, is based on examination of mucus samples obtained with a suction syringe from the various parts of the cervical canal of human volunteers for physico-chemical examination.

When, at the inception of the project, we decided to focus on the given part of the anatomy, Erik Odeblad’s work logically and inevitably became a part of the background. He used the NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) technique of physical chemistry to perform the complicated investigation of cervical mucus, and he produced the classical evidence for the difference between the “fertile” mucus macromolecules that allow the passage of the sperm, and the “infertile” cross-linked glycoprotein molecular network that does not. (To this day I remember his usage of “undulations”…)

In fact, this early information, which involved the thiol-disulfide (sulphydryl-disulphide) redox couples in the glycoprotein macromolecule, had much to do with our early hypothesis of the mechanism of our measurements. Never mind that his work was in the context of the subjective self-examination used in NFP, which did not work for the female member of the team! Had it worked for her, there would probably not be any Ovulona™ for monitoring folliculogenesis in vivo (FIV™ – which has utility well beyond fertility status determination)!

With atrophy being the general biological aspect of aging (and with the initially very large number of ova or eggs in the young female’s ovaries decreasing as she matures and ages), the cervix similarly “undergoes a natural process of development and aging. The surface area of the cervix that is given over to the mucus secreting glands [“crypts”] gradually diminishes with age.”

Odeblad defines three types of the (endo)cervical glands, which he (and others too e.g. Embryology.CH and Eurocytology.EU since at least the 1970s) calls the “crypts”:

  • S crypts produce S mucus, which forms string-like channels and provides transport (“swimming lanes”) for sperm cells. (“Produces a wet, lubricative sensation at the vulva.” That’s for the NFP sympto-thermal method use, the Billings method and/or the Creighton Model NaProEducation Technology method, the classical NFP or FAM – the latter, Fertility Awareness Method, publicized by Ms. Toni Weschler’s 2002 book Taking Charge of Your Fertility .)
  • L crypts produce L mucus, which eliminates low-quality sperm and provides a structure to support what he calls the S and the P mucus. P is a reference to the so-called Peak mucus of NFP or FAM.
  • G crypts produce G mucus, which is “an impenetrable gestagenic mucus formed in the lowest cervical crypts. Prevents sperm entry to the cervix and is part of the immune system which protects the woman’s reproductive system from infection.” A remark from gestagen (jěs’tə-jən, -jěn’) n. A substance, such as a steroid hormone, that affects the uterus in a manner similar to progesterone. And a remark from a scientific commentator: This G mucus is characterized by the oxidized state of the mentioned redox couples, causing cross-linking in the glycoprotein mucin, which prevents microbes including sperm from entering. Visualize this as closed -S—S- gates (as opposed to the open gate form -SH   HS- of the “reduced” state of the redox couples; “reduced” meaning “electronated and hydrogenated”, the opposite of “oxidized”).


There are three fundamental principles at work.

1. Natural baseline aging, and this is fundamental – a more or less linear decrease in the number of all three kinds of these glands or crypts, at somewhat different rates: S the fastest, L somewhat slower, G slower still.

2. Slow-down of the aging atrophy by pregnancy.

3. Acceleration of the aging atrophy by the Pill [and/or by other endocrine-active compounds, EACs – this is a logical extrapolation, speculative, but must be assumed].

Now, then.

1. Natural baseline aging, fundamental – a more or less linear decrease in the number of all three kinds of these glands or crypts:

“The number of S crypts decreases from teen age. They are first replaced by L crypts starting at the base of the cervix. Later G crypts replace the L crypts.”

Thus, from Odeblad’s graph [rate reckoned from 15 yrs old to 40 yrs old]:

S crypt baseline decrease or diminution (or atrophy) rate:

50% / 25 years = 2% per year.

At 50 years old, S crypts are at some 10%.

Profile crypts baseline never pregnant never on the Pill

Profile of cervical crypts of a baseline woman – never pregnant & never on the Pill

Representative profile of cervical crypts

(percentage of cervix occupied by active crypts)

for a woman who goes through life without pregnancy or use of the Pill.

This is a baseline profile.

Here is Erik Odeblad’s schematic of the crypts on the surface of the cervical canal:

Cervix of a 20 year old virgin

Carefully mapped lateral wall of the cervix of a 20 year old virgin           (reported by Emeritus Professor Erik Odeblad, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Umeå, S-90187, Umeå, Sweden)

This is Professor Odeblad’s artist’s impression of cervical mucus secretions:

Mucus secretions

Schematics of cervical mucus secretions

Key to colors:

Blue         = S mucus

Yellow     = L mucus

Red          = G mucus

Green      = P mucus of which there are several sub-types

Pink         = Z granules

Professor Odeblad’s explanatory notes:

Z granules – the enzyme in the Z granules combines with the P mucus to create a liquefying effect.

P mucus – there are a number of sub-types of this mucus, the most relevant for fertility are P2 and P6. P2 could be present as early as the beginning of the fertile phase possibly having a role in liquefying the G mucus. P6 is mostly confined to the upper part of the cervix, occurring close to the Peak of fertility, and having a role in conveying sperm. It creates a very wet and lubricative sensation at the vulva.

F mucus – comes from the cells scattered throughout the length of the cervical canal and has no known special function.

For a recent evidence of four different morphological mucus types, namely L, S, P and G, see “Morphological characterization of different human cervical mucus types using light and scanning electron microscopy” by M. Menárguez, L.M. Pastor and E. Odeblad, Human Reproduction, Vol. 18, No. 9, 1782-1789, September 2003 –

Citation: “The distribution of crypt zones in the cervix depends on age, number of pregnancies and use of contraception. In a non-pregnant woman, aged 25–30years and not having used contraception, the cervix averages 22 mm in length and 6 mm in diameter at ovulation. The crypt distribution starting from below and moving upwards is as follows: the G crypts dominate in the lowest 4–5 mm; then there is a zone of L crypts occupying the next 9–10 mm; this is followed by the S zone, for 5–6 mm; and the highest 3–4 mm contains the P crypts.”

When you read the paper, you detect that he has a very special knack for sampling the respective mucus types from the said crypts. Hat off! Work with human experimental subjects is no stroll in the park, to put this mildly.

2. Slow-down of atrophy aging by pregnancy:

Profile crypts 4x pregnant

Profile of cervical crypts of a 4x pregnant woman

Representative profile of cervical crypts

(percentage of cervix occupied by active crypts)

for a woman who goes through life with four pregnancies and no use of the Pill.

Pregnancy – S crypt diminution rate from Odeblad’s graph

[4 pregnancies, no Pill, rate reckoned from 15 yrs old to 40 yrs old]:

30% / 25 years = 1.2% per year.

At 50 years old, S crypts are at some 20%.

3. Acceleration of atrophy aging by the Pill [and/or by other endocrine-active compounds, EACs – a logical extrapolation]

Profile of cervical crypts of a woman on the Pill

Representative profile of cervical crypts

(percentage of cervix occupied by active crypts)

for a woman who goes through life without pregnancy and uses the Pill for 10 years

Pill – S crypt diminution rate from Odeblad’s graph

[no pregnancy, Pill for 10 years (18 to 28 yrs old), rate reckoned from 15 yrs old to 40 yrs old]:

60% / 25 years = 2.4% per year.

At 50 years old, S crypts are at some 5%.

This includes the slow down of the diminution gradient during the last 12 years of no Pill.

Compare this with diminution/atrophy rate during the 10 years on the Pill:

65% – 25% = 40% / 10 years = 4% per year.

This is double the baseline rate of cervical atrophy.

It’s more than 3 times higher than the pregnancy-slowed atrophy rate.

Three concluding remarks by Prof. Odeblad:

“Regression when taking the Pill is different for estrogen-dependent crypts (L and S) and progesterone-dependent crypts (G) which may in part overdevelop.”

“The study of the effects of contraceptive pills on the cervix is a difficult task. A considerable amount of work is required for each patient and the time required spans many years, up to 10 years or more. Many women also want to change to other pills or to other methods of contraception, or perhaps now want to become pregnant. It also happens that some pills are withdrawn from the market. To these difficulties are added the normal age changes in the cervix and the dynamic processes which are of constant occurrence. 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.” (“Some Notes on the Cervical Crypts”, Dr E. Odeblad, Bulletin of the Ovulation Method Research and Reference Centre of Australia, Vol 24 No 2 June 1997, p31)

Citations and graphics reproduced from .

“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 oestrogens, 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.” He also wrote: “After 3 to 15 months of contraceptive pill use, there is a greater loss of the S crypt cells than can be replaced … A pregnancy rejuvenates the cervix by 2-3 years, but for each year the Pill is taken, the cervix ages by an extra year.” Web reference: .

Comment on implications for treatments of certain symptoms

For example, the suggested method [Weschler, Toni (2002). Taking Charge of Your Fertility (Revised ed.). New York: HarperCollins. p. 52] of thinning cervical mucus to help achieve pregnancy by taking the OTC expectorant drug guaifenesin, which is thought to act by increasing the volume and reducing the viscosity of secretions.

The drug is also used to treat the symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea [severe uterine pain during menstruation ] where another treatment of choice is combined oral contraceptives [COCs]. Such treatments are administered to adolescents as well as to mature women because dysmenorrhea is a very common and serious problem (25% of women and up to 90% of adolescents ).

In both cases, the expectorant and the contraceptives are administered without knowledge of their mechanism of action in the given problem. Focus is on treating symptoms, not the underlying causes. The patient is the detector of any effect. How does the expectorant drug use correlate with the secretions of the different types of cervical mucus on the one hand, and with the folliculogenesis cyclic profile on the other? Is there any connection? If not, what does the drug do to the different crypts? And what the COCs do to them?

Is the expectorant so selective that it might do the right thing? Reduce type G? Enhance type S mucus? Does oxidation of the guaifenesin help reduce the cross-linked mucin type G in the cervical canal? As simple and pretty as that? (Even prettier if guaifenesin were not to be an EAC, an endocrine-active compound … which inactivity does not look likely – .)

Would it not be nice to have a rationale for how the small guaifenesin molecule can have a good effect on both sub-fertility/infertility and dysmenorrhea?

Could it be that guaifenesin works bioelectrochemically in the same oxidation-reduction (redox) manner on the enzyme cyclooxygenase in the prostaglandin cascade, which is a cascade of redox reactions – producing an anti-inflammatory effect that translates as suppression of pain? (On a personal note, why not capitalize here at least conceptually on our ancient Wellcome Research Labs work, even before receiving – presumably – the first pension money from Glaxo Smith Kline?)

It’s easier to contemplate in general the effect of the contraceptive drug, which will presumably depend on the contents of the estrogenic and gestagenic components (modeling on Odeblad’s findings)…

Is there a connection between pain, cervix and ovaries, ovarian reserves? Maybe an abnormal depletion of, via ovarian cysts? Will the number of follicular waves and/or other features in the Ovulona cyclic profile – and correlated with ultrasound and MRI – show any such abnormality? Might the Ovulona be useful for diagnosis here, convenient, simple (inexpensive)? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Is cyclooxygenase inhibition detected by the cervix, does it show in the cyclic profile? Does said prostaglandin synthesis inhibition alter the number of follicular waves – while reducing the pain?

Answers to questions like these are needed. Keep in mind that ovulation is an inflammatory process, and since we detect it in the cyclic profile, it is reasonable to pose the above prostaglandin theory questions about the COX-2 (cyclooxygenase) inhibition.

Summarizing Odeblad’s results and the take-home message:

Baseline outcome of cervical S crypts aging: S crypts down to 20% at 40 years of age. Here you have the reason why mature age leads to sub-fertility and to infertility.

Atrophy slow-down effect of 4 pregnancies: S crypts down to 40% at 40 years of age. Here you see Mother Nature’s design in action. Pregnancy slows down the inherent rate of cervical aging (atrophy, deterioration). Naturally, this is not to argue for 4 pregnancies per lifetime – it’s merely how the effect was made measurable.

Atrophy acceleration effect of 10 years on the Pill: S crypts down to 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. The Pill is an archetypal anthropogenic Endocrine-Active Compound [man-made EAC], and it was brought up in the previous post how there are very many of these EACs, all insulting the female body and health, some – like chemical contraceptives – by design.

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.



And now, go and check out the 2012 post “The fallacy of ovulation calculators, calendars and circulating-hormone detectors” at

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