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Birth Control: Barring More Than Sperm

Filed Under: Women's Health at 1:44 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Birth Control PillsOral contraceptives are the magic pills.  Taken once a day, they effectively (98-99 percent of the time) prevent conception and, more often than not, turn your life-halting period into an easily manageable flow. Some even go so far as to limit menstrual bleeding to four times a year. What isn’t there to love in that? It’s no wonder 12 million American women and 80 million worldwide rely on birth control pills for contraception. However, in ensuring that a life does not arise prematurely, are these women risking their own?

It depends. The pill has been proven to lessen the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian and endometrial cancer, anemia and ectopic pregnancy.  But it’s also been shown to raise blood pressure and cholesterol, and increase your chances of developing blood clots and breast or cervical cancer. And the longer you stay on it, the longer your lists of worries becomes.  The overall likelihood of cancer moots the lower risk of ovarian and endometrial after eight years, and new evidence suggests that birth control pills will clog your arteries after 10.  A study of more then 1,000 women found that taking an oral contraceptive, for an extended period of time, heightened the chance of clogged arteries by 20 to 30 percent, which, in turn, raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. Should you, then, stop taking the pill?

By no means, is that what I, or this evidence, am suggesting. The pill is a convenient and reliable way to prevent conception. However, you should be aware of the risks. Once you are, you can take the steps necessary to counteract them. You can stop smoking, drinking, lazing about inactively, eating poorly and doing all of the other things that add to the likelihood of developing cancer, cardiovascular concerns and diseases in general. You can also consider creating a timeline. Figure out how long you want to stay on the pill. If there is a convenient time for you to stop, you should.

The pill is a method of preventing conception. It’s meant to alleviate some of your life’s concerns. Make sure it doesn’t also alleviate your health.

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