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3 Really good reasons to reconsider the birth control pill

Birth Control Pills
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At least three big studies have identified major health risks from hormonal contraception in the last year.

It hasn’t been a good year for the birth control pill.

Recently, a group of Danish doctors confirmed that even newer “improved” versions of hormonal contraceptives on the market raise breast cancer risk slightly. And now, an alarming new study by the same researchers found that women who used artificial means of contraception (the pill, patch, vaginal ring, and IUD) may be at an elevated risk for suicide. Out of the nearly half a million women studied over the course of 8.3 years, the women who used (or recently discontinued using) birth control were three times as likely to commit suicide as non- or never users of hormonal birth control.

When taken together with the results of a yet another study published last year by the same researchers, which found a link between birth control use and risk of depression, evidence of dire effects on the mental and emotional health of millions of women and girls across the globe is mounting. This is especially true for teenage girls, who were found to have an even higher risk of suicide and depression than the adult women in both studies. “Doctors should be more reluctant to prescribe hormonal contraception to young girls unless there are medical reasons to do so,” the Danish research team concluded.

And yet, in seemingly the same breath, the doctors are not discouraging women from using these drugs. Writing for Time.com, Alice Park notes that the researchers urged “that women who are currently using contraceptives successfully should not stop using them.”

It’s hard to believe that in 2017, women are still being encouraged to accept elevated risks for depression, suicide, and breast cancer (not to mention a whole host of other unpleasant and dangerous side effects) in the name of family planning and despite such clear outcomes from large-scale studies. After all, a study investigating a male version of artificial birth control was reportedly cut short when just one of the men studied developed severe depression, and just one attempted suicide. It’s important to remember, too, that hormonal birth control actually stops a healthy woman’s body from doing something it is naturally supposed to do — namely, cycling. I can’t think of any other example in medicine where we actively stop a healthy function of the body, let alone do so at such great risk to the patient.

What many of these doctors and research studies fail to mention is that there are several effective, fertility-awareness based methods of family planning available that carry no risks to the health of women (or men). Furthermore, these methods come with the bonus of putting women and girls in better touch with their bodies, and help knowledgeable physicians diagnose and treat their infertility, menstrual irregularities, and reproductive system issues in ways that actually address the root cause of those problems – which is something that artificial means of birth control cannot do.

So, if you’re a woman reading this who’s fed up with the distorted reality that there are no good options for you, think again – and reach out to other women, like myself, who successfully use natural methods at no cost to our health.

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