Depo Provera: The side effects of the injectable hormonal contraceptive Depo Provera are so unpleasant that in a Colorado study of 5,000 women’s continuation rates, J. Westfall et al. found that only 23% of women continued to receive quarterly Depo shots for a full year. Nearly half quit after one injection. The main reason they gave for quitting Depo was “difficulty tolerating side effects.” A few of the undesirable side effects are the following: loss of bone mineral density, blood clots, breast cancer, ectopic pregnancy, depression, irritability, mood swings, unpredictable bleeding and excessive weight gain.
How and why does this happen? “The Boom and Bust Phenomenon” was described by Guttmacher researchers Heather Boonstra et al. They explained that pharmaceutical companies receive FDA approval on the basis of small scale studies (which don’t reveal the full extent of potential hazards). The drug company then markets the heck out of the latest/best-ever contraceptive, making billions as quickly as possible. By this time, with users in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, it becomes obvious that, in addition to the almost universal, very unpleasant side effects, the contraceptive also produces relatively rare but life-threatening and even fatal side effects. When there’s a critical mass of liability claims from injured women and the families of deceased women, the drug manufacturer settles as quietly as possible for a fraction of its net revenues. A risk of death or permanent injury of one in 1,000 seems very small. But if 100 million women worldwide are using the contraceptive, this business model will mean that 100,000 women may suffer death or serious injury from the contraceptive. A Boom or Bust business model may make sense financially, but morally, it is reprehensible.
So much for the vaunted health benefits for women!
Susan E. Willsis spirituality editor for Aleteia.