Birth Control Essay, Research Paper
Methods of Birth Control
Birth control pills are an oral contraceptive for women. They are monophasic, biphasic, or triphasic. Each type contains estrogen and progestin in differing amounts. Monophasic birth
control pills maintain the same levels of estrogen and progestin throughout the course, while biphasic pills keep the estrogen level the same while increasing the progestin levels for the last
11 days of the pack, and triphasic pills are designed to mimic the natural menstrual cycle by varying both hormones throughout the pack. Basically the progesterone in birth control pills has
an antifertility effect, and also suppresses ovulation at higher levels.
Birth control pills first appeared in the 1950s after it was discovered that progesterone blocked ovulation. The first birth control pills contained more than 20% more estrogen and more
than 10% more progesterone than pills today. This significant reduction has decreased the adverse side effects of the drugs greatly.
Currently the birth control pill has the highest efficacy rate, with a 99.9% effectiveness rate for combination regimens and a 99.5% effectiveness rate for progestin only regimens in clinical
trials. It is extremely important to take the pills on a regular basis and at a regular time of day (say after dinner or with breakfast every day) as effectiveness drops with improper usage.
The birth control pill cannot be used as a “morning after pill” without the advice and monitoring of a physician.
Common side effects of birth control pills are nausea; vomiting; cramps; bloating; breakthrough bleeding (light bleeding at the start of the regimen); spotting (light bleeding at times);
change in menstrual flow (most commonly lighter flow than one is used to); breast changes such as increased tenderness, enlargement, secretion; change in weight, depression, intolerance
to contact lenses. Women who suffer from migraine headaches may experience an increase in migraine occurance.
It is important to always, always mention to any doctor you are visiting the type of birth control pills you are on, since they do interact badly with certain other drugs. Antibiotics may reduce
the effectiveness of birth control pills, as can drugs such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, and rifampin. Birth control pills can also increase the risk of toxicity of drugs such as BZDs, beta
blockers, caffeine, some steroids, and tricyclic antidepressants. Just because your birth control pills may be designed to mimic your natural menstrual cycle doesn’t mean they are a totally
natural solution that won’t effect any other medications you are taking.
There are many different formulations of birth control pills, and different forms of progesterone and estrogen with different effects. If you are experiencing unpleasant side effects, such as
fatigue, headaches, or mood swings, you may want to consult your doctor and try a different type of pill. Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to help you determine whether your
symptoms are related to progesterone or estrogen. This is important, because while for most people estrogen related side effects, such as nausea, will usually diminish or stop within a few
months, progesterone related side effects such as depression and diminished sex drive tend to only get worse over time. These side effects can usually be remedied by simply changin formulas, though. No serious side effects of overdosage have been so far reported. Most likely an overdose of birth control pills will result in nausea and vomiting, and possibly withdrawal bleeding. It is not recommended that women who smoke take birth control pills, as the combination can increase their risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is putting a spotlight on emergency birth control. Many women have never been told that standard birth control pills are effective in preventing pregnancy when high doses are taken within 72 hours after intercourse. Instructions for emergency doses are widely disseminated in several European countries, where the practice is common. But oral contraceptive manufacturers have not included such information on the labels of their products in the United States.
Use of so-called “morning-after pills” in the United States has been more confined to rape crisis centers gynecologists recommend emergency birth control when condoms break or when other birth control methods are interrupted, but many physicians are unfamiliar with effective doses of birth control pills for use in preventing conception.
The FDA recently sparked broader discussion of the topic when the agency’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory committee concluded unanimously on June 28, 1996, that emergency dose regimens are 75 percent effective, with little health risk. The committee studied six products containing both estrogen and progestin: Ovral, Lo/Orval, Nordette, Triphasil, Levlen and Tri-Levlen. Although not considereda final approval, the action raised awareness of the regimen.
The strong dose of hormones used in emergency birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. The mechanism is not completely known. The number of pills taken varies according to the strength of the pills. In general, it consists of two doses:
The first dose–taken within 72 hours after intercourse–is normally two to four pills. The second dose is normally the same as the first, taken 12 hours after the first dose. Women who are considering the use of birth control pills in excess of the prescribed dose should call their gynecologist. A follow-up visit in three weeks should be scheduled for a confirmatory pregnancy test and information on contraception. Most doctors agree that emergency birth control is for just that–emergencies. It is not regarded as an alternative to regular oral contraception or barrier conception. Barrier contraception, such as the use of condoms, offers the added benefit of lowering the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of emergency doses of birth control pills. Other potential side effects are headaches, breast tenderness and dizziness. In rare cases, blood clotting may occur in the legs or lungs. Because birth control pills may cause birth defects in established pregnancies, emergency doses should not be taken later than 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.
It has been shown that Tiphasic birth control pills may increase a woman’s sexual desires far more than the more conventional ones that do not vary the dose of progesterone throughout the menstrual cycle. Most birth control pills contain both major female hormones. Of these, most do not vary the concentration of progesterone throughout the month. However, the triphasic type of birth control pill has three different pills with three different concentrations of progesterone. Examples of triphasic pills include Orthonovum 7/7/7 and Triphasil-21. Triphasic pills probably increase a woman’s sexuality because, compared to the standard birth control pills, they significantly delay the suppression of masculinizing hormones normally produced after an egg is released, so women on the triphasic birth control pills have higher blood levels of masculinizing hormones, and therefore feel more sexual. Indeed, a study in the May issue of Psychosomatic medicine shows that giving the male hormone, testosterone, to women markedly increases their sexual vaginal sexual responses.
Birth control pills prevent pregnancy by preventing an egg from being released from the ovaries into the uterus. Of all contraceptive methods, they are the most effective with a failure rate equalled only by tubal ligation in women and vasectomy in men. However, birth control pills offer no barrier protection against venereal diseases, so women who take them should find other means to prevent infection. They should not be used by women with a history of clotting, arteriosclerotic heart disease, cancer of the breast or uterus, jaundice, possible liver disease, abnormal vaginal bleeding or pregnancy.
People are afraid of birth control and what it can do to them and their families. Much like the movement of racism in the United States, it is a fear from a lack of knowledge that is driving a nation. Avoidance and restrictions are not an answer. Education and understanding are needed if we are going to survive this epidemic.