The Pros and Cons of Oral Contraception
------ By Kristen Davis
------ By Kristen Davis
The debate over the safety of oral contraceptives continues today, with groups voicing their strong opinions on both sides. While proponents of this contraceptive option are quick to point out the surge in college-bound women after its introduction, opponents counter with disturbing physical side effects of the drug, like increased risk of cardiovascular disease. One Yaz lawsuit even involved a victim who developed blood clots in her lungs after taking these pills. Nevertheless, oral contraceptives have become a profitable branch of the pharmaceutical industry, with over 12 million users in the United States alone. It remains clear there is strong motivation for these companies to continue selling this product.
Some leading manufacturers, like Bayer HealthCare, annually create multimillion dollar advertising campaigns to keep their products among the top sellers. However, with such strong profit potential, manufacturers might be increasingly less willing to provide factual information regarding their products. The FDA recently requested Bayer remove misleading advertisements in which the drug giant advertised their products as treatments for several other health conditions, like acne and depression, which the agency found were unproven.
However, misconceptions about these products might lead to dangerous consequences. Poorly-informed young women might become confused by all the promises of these manufacturers, mistakenly believing the drugs treat or prevent other conditions as well, like sexually transmitted disease. Falsely believed to be protected, users of this product might engage in unprotected sex when they might otherwise have used a condom.
Nevertheless, the most disturbing consequence of these drugs remains the substantial side effects. The hormonal ingredients in these pills can lead to the disruption of several physiological aspects in women, including libido and emotional state. Although evidence linking newer pills, which contain lower hormone doses, with long-term effects like infertility and breast cancer remains contentious, the recent number of lawsuits against manufacturers does highlight some of the serious physical results of this product. Users of these pills have seen relatively mild side effects, like migraines and vomiting, as well as serious consequences including heart attack and stroke, which have proven fatal.
Still, generally promising trends in teen pregnancy throughout much of the last decade show some positive results are possibly linked with this product’s use. This contraceptive provides women with a level of control over their reproductive cycle they would otherwise never have. After the pill’s introduction, women did not have to sacrifice physical intimacy in order to succeed financially. Today, proponents of oral contraception point to the economic and social gains women made when they were not inhibited by unplanned pregnancy. These pills allowed women to delay motherhood and make economic gains that were previously unattainable.
In addition, the pill remains a very convenient and cost effective manner of preventing pregnancy. Most prescriptions cost only $15 to $50 a month. Planned Parenthood clinics even offer the pills at a discounted rate for women unable to pay the full cost. Besides their easy availability, they remain one of the most effective forms of contraception available. When taken as directed, these drugs are up to 99.9% effective. In addition, when combined with the use of a condom, these pills are an effective preventative measure against both pregnancy and disease.
While medical practitioners are quick to point out that the majority of users do not experience any serious side effects of these contraceptives, the recent rash of lawsuits against manufacturers act as a reminder that dangerous side effects can occur. Obviously, natural methods of pregnancy prevention that do not include the intake of foreign chemicals, including fertility awareness, remain the healthiest way to prevent pregnancy. However, because not all women are willing to invest the time and effort into this method, oral contraception will undoubtedly remain a popular option in the prevention of pregnancy. Nevertheless, it’s up to individuals to decide whether this potential health hazard is justified by its effectiveness.