The pill is the perfect deterrent to conceiving a child. Or is it?
In 1960, "the Pill" freed a generation of women from the fear of unwanted pregnancy and allowed for an exploration of sexuality that, up until that point, had been unimaginable.
But what exactly, are millions of women feeding their bodies with, to avoid the chance of ovum fertilization? What are the effects have these women not seen thus far?
Let's weigh out the good, the bad and the ugly:
1. Supresses ovulation. Two types of hormones typically found in oral contraception, estrogen and progestin, keep an egg from completely developing each month; in addition, the Pill makes cervical mucus thicker and more difficult for sperm to get through, while also changing uterine lining enough so that an egg, were it to be released, wouldn't be able to land in the uterus to develop.
2. Lowers the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers
3. Ease symptoms of severe PMS
4. Reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis
5. Improve female pattern hair loss.
6. Treats bulimics.
The Bad & The Ugly
1. Blood-clot risk and stroke has been well-documented, and that risk increases when a woman is smoker, particularly a smoker over age 35.
2. Impairs muscle gains in young women, increases the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.
3. Increases the risk of cervical cancer (the risk returns to normal levels after the woman has been off it for 10 years).
4. The Pill may interfere with a protein that keeps testosterone unavailable for women's physiologic needs, thus causing long-term health problems, including sexual dysfunction.
"It is important for physicians prescribing oral contraceptives to point out to their patients potential sexual side effects, such as decreased desire, arousal, decreased lubrication, and increased sexual pain," wrote Claudia Panzer, an endocrinologist and lead author of a study on testosterone and the pill, published in 2006 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
"It is crucial to recognize the link between sexual dysfunction and the oral contraceptive and not to attribute these complaints solely to psychological causes."
While the Pill is the ideal supplement to many women's sexual life, it still is a risk to the long-term life many are not willing to take.