By Dani Lasher, Vaxxter Contributor
This is a fourth in a series of articles exposing little-known scientific research on how Science and Pharma are destroying health, eliminating parental choice and negatively impacting the family. Find Part One here – Part Two here. – Part Three here.
Pharmaceutical birth control plays a major role in influencing the health of human beings. The lasting effect on childbirth after years of using birth control pills is unknown.
Birth Control is Not About Women’s Rights
Big Pharma capitalized on feminism to give women what they wanted: more choices. Decades later, it’s clear those fabricated choices have undermined women’s rights to informed consent and bodily autonomy. This “choice” paved the way for female disempowerment by removing adequate menstrual and fertility education from schools and even making the topic a societal taboo. Thus, young women are no longer on ways to naturally prevent pregnancy. The development of the birth control pill was a societal dream come true in the 1960 era of feminism. Women were given authority over their bodies, or so they thought.
The birth control pill gave these side effects:
- Breast pain
- Heart attack
- Blood clots and more
Intrauterine devices have become popular, with the copper IUD called Paragard, which positions itself as being “hormone-free.” Pharma tells women the copper ions kill sperm and has no hormonal effect. Herein lies the deception. The copper IUD doesn’t contain hormones, but copper does impact hormones.
Copper upregulates estrogen in the body. A 1973 study in Fertility & Sterility found copper increased estrogen uptake in rats. A 2014 Neurology case report noted increased copper levels alongside estrogen may raise the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
Several other IUDs contain synthetic hormones, such as Mirena, which is associated with some alarming adverse events. Bayer is battling several lawsuits over this device, which has been linked to a brain condition known as pseudotumor cerebri.
A Female Contraception study asserts the copper in the IUD injures and inflames the endometrium. This is actually how all IUDs prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, a process many doctors claim doesn’t occur, misinforming patients who may be against blocking implantation if they believe life starts at fertilization.
It’s Not Just About Women
A 2005 study in Human Reproduction reports 55% of men are supportive of using hormonal methods of birth control. But birth control harms men too. A 2016 study on male birth control published in Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers injected participants with a cocktail of progestin and modified testosterone Intramuscular injections every 8 weeks. Of the 320 participants, 95.9 of 100 users suppressed their sperm count less than or equal to 1 million/mL within 24 weeks. During the efficacy phase of up to 56 weeks, only 4 pregnancies occurred among the partners of the 266 male participants. The most common adverse events were acne, injection site pain, increased libido, and mood disorders.
Urologic surgeon, Dr. Braumbhatt told Health: “We prescribe this drug to men who have low testosterone levels, and we warn our patients that they may experience infertility as a side effect.” The study noted eight participants did not see their fertility resume within the 52-week recovery phase. Five recovered adequate sperm counts within 74 weeks after they stopped the injections. Two declined follow-ups to the study, and one still had not recovered adequate sperm production four years following his last injection.
This particular trial came to a halt when participants started complaining of side effects including:
- Injection site pain
- Muscle pain
- Shifts in libido
- Depression and other mood disorders
Overall, 20 men dropped out early due to side effects. A total of 1,491 adverse events were reported by participants, including injection site pain, muscle pain, increased libido, and acne. One participant also intentionally overdosed on acetaminophen—an adverse event that could be connected.
While women have endured similar side effects to birth control pills for more than sixty years, it appears men may not be willing to put up with similar side effects. Researchers stopped enrolling new participants and ended the study when an independent review board declared a risk-benefit analysis didn’t support its continuation.
Another male birth control pill trial is underway. It contains the same two hormones that the male birth control injection had. A study published earlier this year (2019) in Endocrine Society reported the same side effects reported in the injectable trial but included erectile dysfunction, weight gain, increases of LCL (bad) cholesterol, and decreases of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Sterilization Produces Permanent Side Effects
The US limits men’s right to exercise true informed consent to vasectomy. Physicians don’t always convey the real risks to male patients. A study in Psychosomatic Research reports vasectomy may cause erectile dysfunction. As far back as 1981, a study in Andrology cautioned that more than half of vasectomized men develop autoimmune pathologies.
Contraception published a study in 1980 that demonstrated vasectomized men have reduced prostate activity. A more recent study (2013) in Andrology highlighted the probability of post-vasectomy pain syndrome and the role chronic inflammation may play in its development.
Mental Illness published a case report of a vasectomized man who developed psychological symptoms after vasectomy. Post-Vasectomy Depression is becoming better recognized as more claims continue to surface. More research is needed to understand the potential connection between hormones, the mind, and vasectomy—a surgery that the body may view as trauma.
Sterilization can also negatively impact women. A sterilization device known as Essure was often used as a permanent birth control device. It is composed of two metal coils inserted into the fallopian tubes through a non-surgical office procedure. According to the National Women’s Health Network, the metal coils were designed to cause chronic inflammation, which induces scar tissue to form, which in turn blocks sperm from reaching eggs, preventing conception. Bayer removed Essure from the market in 2018, years after complaints arose that they neglected to inform patients that it contained the allergen, nickel. Many Essure users endure lifelong illness, chronic pain and hysterectomies.
Doctors perform 700,000 tubal ligations annually, often without warning patients the procedure may increase the risk of:
- Depression and anxiety (Contraception, 1996)
- Hormonal imbalance (Reproductive Medicine, 1981)
- Hospitalization for significant menstrual disorders (Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1992)
- Necessary hysterectomy (Epidemiology, 1987)
Don’t let the age of these studies dissuade you; it simply demonstrates that the complication of this surgery has been known for decades. If you have these symptoms, know they are real.
Alternatives to Chemical and Surgical Family Planning
Fertility awareness methods (FAM) are among the strongest options for natural birth control. FAM involves some effort because it is solely the responsibility of women. The problem is that many women track their cycles incorrectly, leading them to believe natural family planning doesn’t work. Fertility awareness requires tracking ovulation, not the dates of the actual period.
The Sympto-thermal method involves keeping track of cervical mucus consistency, cervical position, mid-cycle cramping, and mood. To use this method, couples should receive training from a certified natural family planning instructor. The method is 98% effective with typical use and 99.6% effective with perfect use. Since it only involves accurate tracking, there are no side effects.
If you’re keen on sharing the birth control responsibility, neem oil is becoming increasingly popular as a spermicide. Repeated studies in Contraception, have shown neem oil is 100% effective at killing all sperm in under 20 seconds. Another Contraception study on neem oil the use in rhesus monkeys noted fertility returned for all when the oil was stopped and subsequent pregnancies produced healthy offspring. The neem oil had no impact on menstrual cycles or ovarian function.
A 1992 study by the National Research Council Panel on Neem reported oral use of neem may be plausible, with a 100% reduction in fertility being seen after 11 weeks of daily ingestion of neem leaf extract. Researchers said they needed to assess the safety of oral ingestion, but again, fertility returned without issue after four to six weeks.
Apart from fertility awareness methods and natural spermicides, many couples make use of technology to prevent pregnancy. Several devices exist to take the work out of temping for women, such as the Ava bracelet, which takes your temperature for you while you sleep. The Ovacue is marketed for those trying to conceive, not prevent pregnancy, but many use it for just that. The device uses sensors to interpret changes in electrolytes from saliva and cervical mucus, notifying women five to seven days in advance of ovulation occurring that they are nearing peak fertility, and confirming such afterward. The iFertracker is a device that is worn at night under and collects 20,000 temperature data pinots as you sleep, providing the most accurate reading for ovulation prediction. Barrier methods – using condoms and spermicides – have long been the cornerstones for guarding against unwanted pregnancies.
What is the trade-off of birth control? Chemically-induced pregnancy prevention used by both women and men can come at the cost of serious health impairments. Whether or not to use it remains a choice. Choose wisely.
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Dani Lasher is a writer, motherhood coach, and health advocate living just outside of Washington, DC. While passionate about informed consent and women’s birthing choices, she’s also slightly obsessed with city living and cooking. You can catch up with Dani at her site, BumpMama.