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Is It Time for Women to Question the Birth Control Pill?

Birth control pills put women at twice the risk of stroke, that is outweighed by the benefits of the pill

3 min read
Is It Time for Women to Question the Birth Control Pill?
Hindi Female

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A small but growing number of doctors world-wide are beginning to question the widespread prescription of hormonal birth control.

They are raising what may be one of the most taboo questions a feminist can ask these days: What if ‘the pill’ isn’t really all that good for all women? Especially when it comes to long-term use of the pill.

A new report suggests that while women taking birth control pills, even the newer, low-dose forms, are at higher risk of stroke, a risk that outweighs the contraceptive benefits of the pills.

Most women worry about gaining weight on the birth control pill, but fail to see there’s a laundry list of “warnings” on the label. One tells you there are blood clot risks! Yes, read it closely. Blood clots can cause strokes, lung embolisms, coma, and even death.


Side Effects You Never Heard About

The low-dose birth control pill, taken by millions of women, contains less estrogen than the pill introduced 40 years ago and are thought to be safer. Still, that is four times more estrogen than produced naturally by a woman’s body. (Photo: iStock)

The study published in the Medical Daily, found that some oral contraceptives which contain a mix of estrogen and progesterone can double a woman’s risk of having a heart attack and stroke.

That’s not all: a 2013 University of California study found that birth control pills can rob you of your eyesight! The scientists studied 3000 women over the age of 40 and found that just three years of taking oral contraceptives doubled women’s chances of getting glaucoma - an incurable condition that is a leading cause of blindness. And no, this ain’t like the time they told you that menstruation would make you blind!

Birth control pills shut down a woman’s natural menstrual cycle by halting ovulation, which prevents pregnancy from happening. In reality, while being on hormonal birth control, women aren’t actually getting a “real” menstrual cycle at all. And those with irregular periods who enjoy the regularity of chums without cramps and PMS - do not be mistaken, the pill does not “solve” your irregularity, it simply puts a band-aid on it.

In this current study which establishes the link between strokes and oral contraceptives, it was found that the severity of the risk relies on other health factors. So women who have:

Uncontrolled high blood pressure
Heart disease
Any blood-clotting disorder
Circulation problems
Heavy vaginal bleeding
Liver disease
Severe migraine or
who smoke and are over the age of 35 years should break-up with their pills.


Know Your Options

These studies are not a glaring indictment of the pill, though it adds to the laundry list of dangers we already knew existed. So in every situation, a woman and her doctor must weigh the risks against the benefits. (Photo: iStock)

Liver embolisms, clots which damage part of the liver permanently, is another side effect of the pills. It kills more than a lakh women annually, often within 30 to 60 minutes after the symptoms start. If your doctor prescribes birth control pills like candy, it is important to discuss any potential risk factors before going for it. Family history, blood tests, and simply talking, are all crucial parts of a decision. The bottom line: When in doubt, ask.

And know your options. Condoms, non-hormonal IUD, and injectables are very effective measures without the extra dose of estrogen. Of course, if you don’t have another method lined up, don’t trash your pills just yet. Weigh the risks of the pill against an unwanted pregnancy, which itself carries significant risks.

But it’s time for doctors and feminists to open up the conversation about hormonal birth control. Feminism is about the freedom to make choices; and those choices have to include the right to question whether the pill is really our best option.

(Photo: iStock - altered by The Quint)

As for me, I’m casting my vote in favour of fast-forwarding the research for a birth control method that places the burden on men. Yeah, they’ve had it easy for a very long time!

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