Positive and Negative Effects of Hormonal Contraceptives
This paper closely discusses both the positives and negatives of the use of hormonal contraceptives. The question of its benefits versus risks is even more imperative as it affects far more people than other hot topics like death penalty or euthanasia. We are not talking about a couple of horrific criminals but about 100 million women all across the world who take hormonal contraceptives. As with every drug there are always two sides to it, it is likewise with hormonal birth control pills. There are reasons why they are taken, regarded as benefits or medical conditions, while there are negative side-effects and risks related to their use. Consequently, it needs to be analyzed which outweighs the other and if the benefit is worth its risk. As this is a very individual issue each woman should carefully consider her decision. The question remains how much limited this decision should be by a doctor who is prescribing the pills or even possibly by a higher authority as there are considerable risks.
Hormonal birth control serves primarily, as the name reveals, to prevent a woman from getting pregnant. There are numerous advantages such as prevention of giving birth to an unwanted child, less abortions and less young women having a child when they are not ready yet. However, there are also other serious medical conditions which can be treated with hormonal pills. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is “a hormone imbalance which causes irregular menstrual periods, acne, and excess hair growth” (Center for Young, 2011) where the pills can lower the hormones to regulate menstrual periods. Moreover, both dysmenorrhea (severe menstrual pain), “affecting up to 90% of young women” (ACOG, 2009), menstrual cramps from endometriosis and menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding), leading to anemia, can be improved by hormonal contraceptives. Also amenorrhea, menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome, such as “mood swings, breast soreness, bloating, and acne” (Center for Young, 2011), can be ameliorated by the hormones in the pills. Since all types of hormonal contraceptives contain both estrogen and progesterone, they can improve hirsutism (excess hair growth) and acne as they suppress production of androgen, the male hormone (ACOG, 2009).
There are also additional benefits, let’s say positive side-effects, which are not though the primary reason for taking the pills. As Dr. Reid says they give a woman control over their period and option to avoid it at inconvenient times such as holidays or business trip (Center for Young, 2011). The hormonal pills also influence preservation of bone density, thickness and beauty of hair and improvement of acne (Allais et al, 2009). Finally, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2009) there are studies which showed positive effect on decreasing the risk for developing endometrial and ovarian cancer the longer a woman uses the birth control pill, lasting even 20 years after use halt. The purported “short-term protection against colorectal cancer among current or recent users” (ACOG, 2009) was presented too.
As it was mentioned there are plentiful harmful and unpleasant side-effects too. Among the less serious are headache, nausea, breast tenderness, mood changes and irregular bleeding (Stöppler, n.d.). Interestingly, there has also been a research into pills’ effect on female libido and U.S. scientists showed decreased libido, sexual enjoyment and lubrication during sexual intercourse for hormonal contraceptives users (Sample, 2005). The studies have shown that “women who regularly used the pill had very low levels of testosterone, but four times as much SHBG [a protein binding to testosterone and preventing its effective use by a body] than women who had never been on the pill” (Sample, 2005). Dr. Claudia Panzer, one of the researchers, warned that SHBG seems not to drop...
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