PROS AND CONS OF ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES
“Last year, I gave birth to a set of beautiful identical twins. Well girls of course, you know how troublesome boys could be. My husband, was proud of me and did not leave my side throughout my delivery. It has been a year after the birth of my twins. My husband, persuaded me to see the doctor concerning family planning. We decided to go with birth control pills. I have been taken these pills for a while now. However, I have noticed a recent increase in my feet size and waist size. In addition, I have been experiencing frequent headaches, especially after I take these pills.”
This is a common issue with oral contraceptives, popularly known as “The Pill”. However, aside the demerits of its use, it comes with a lot of advantages for female health in general.
In view of this, what are oral contraceptives?
Oral contraceptives known as birth control pills contain female sex hormones, either a combination of progesterone and estrogen or progesterone alone.
These contraceptive hormones can be taken in other forms such as vaginal insertions, skin patches, skin implants and muscular injections.
However, the most common mode of administration is by the mouth as a pill.
Well, let us learn more about the benefits of oral contraceptives.
Regulates the menstrual cycle:
Birth control pills regulate menstrual cycles especially in women with irregular menstrual periods. Hence, it is most often helpful in women with periods that have an early onset or late onset. It tends to make menstrual periods shorter and lighter.
Reduces the risk of anemia:
Birth control pills normally reduce the amount of blood lost during each period. This prevents the risk of iron deficiency anemia due to the reduced blood loss.
Safe means of contraception:
Throughout the reproductive years of women, birth control pills have proven to be a very safe method of contraception. No research has demonstrated side effects of long-term use. It prevents most severe gynecological conditions such as ovarian cysts, invasive cancers of the ovaries and endometrium.
Prevents ectopic pregnancy:
Since birth control pills suppress ovulation, they effectively prevent ectopic and unintended normal pregnancies. This has saved the lives of many women who were at risk of ectopic pregnancy.
It has no effect on future fertility:
Taking birth control pills would have no effect on the future fertility of a woman. However, it would take two or three months longer to conceive than a woman who doesn’t take the pill.
Interestingly, this drug also comes with its disadvantages which are essential to take note.
This is more likely to develop in women who use oral contraceptives for more than 5 years. Women who take oral contraceptives on a long-term basis, should see their health care practitioner. The health practitioner would recommend some screening tests, such as Papanicolaou (Pap) smear test to identify precancerous changes in the cervix.
Blood clots (Venous thromboembolism):
There is a slightly increased risk of having blood clots develop in the legs of women who use birth control pills. This incidence is even higher with women exposed to factors, such as obesity, old age, frequent air travel and sitting or lying down for prolonged periods.
No protection against Sexually transmitted Infections:
Though birth control pills reduce the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, it does not prevent the wide array of sexually transmitted infections such as genital warts, chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papilloma virus or HIV.
Lastly most women who take oral contraceptives normally have severe headaches related with the development of stroke. Other adverse effects include, nausea, vomiting, depression and decreased libido (sexual drive).