I read this article today, and you should too. I’ll give you a moment to scan it, then come back here.
Back? Read it? Good.
I want to start off by saying I am totally in support of birth control. I am not Catholic. I do not see it as an insult or affront against God/nature or whatever. I think a woman should have the power to not conceive. I am totally in favor of these things.
That being said, I found this part of the article particular disturbing:
Research suggests, for example, that women are able to look at a checklist of contraindications and determine if the Pill is safe for them, she said. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure or a history of breast cancer or blood clots may all make birth control pills less safe, she noted.
Grossman agreed with Nanda that any safety issues have largely been addressed.
I have to disagree with both Grossman and Nanda on the safety factor behind the Pill. Why? Because I have a hereditary genetic defect that causes my body to not produce Protein C, a necessary protein that the body uses to control clotting of the blood. Women with this genetic defect, as well as Protein K deficiency, are almost guaranteed to develop blood clots at some point in their lives (normally around their twenties, but sometimes much later, like myself) and the Pill actually accelerates this.
Hell, I developed a pulmonary embolism without having an actual risk factor in my life–I was not on the Pill, I’m not a smoker, nor a heavy drinker, I do not live with a smoker, and I’m not sufficiently overweight enough for it to be any medical concern. Even worse, there is no medical history to indicate I have this condition, no women ever died from a blood clot while being on the Pill in my family, no woman ever died at a young age in my family, and there were no obvious symptoms until the clots were well set in my lungs and I literally could not catch my breath. The doctors I saw were actually shocked I was walking around and not dead from a heart attack or stroke.
Yes, they told me that. My only saving grace was that I am in terrific health overall (aside form my blood plotting against me) and the clots were low in my lungs and had not yet had a chance to impair my heart’s function.
What does all this mean to me, a person with this condition? Simply that the Pill fucking scares me, not because precautions can’t be taken, but because usually they are not. As a young woman you were likely examined by your doctor, given a list of options for contraception, and were asked a few simple medical questions about your family history, habits and lifestyle. Your doctor likely explained some of the risk factors, but even so, if you had had my condition, you never would have known without a specific blood test to check for the protein counts in your blood (which doctors don’t usually order up until they suspect something’s gone horribly wrong).
I’m not saying don’t go on the Pill. I’m not saying don’t instruct your daughter or granddaughter to go on the Pill if they’re becoming sexually active. What I’m saying is, be aware that these little factors like protein deficiencies exist, and if you or a friend, loved one, or, god help you, your child, is opting to take the Pill, please explain to her about the risk of protein deficiencies and beg her to speak to her doctor about it before she begins taking the Pill. You might even suggest she take a protein test, and to look into other, safer, options of contraception, like the IUD.
Don’t expect your doctor to have all the magic answers. Don’t assume the Pill is safe just because no one you ever knew or were related to ever had an issue. Do the research, look into other options, and take precautions.
It could save your life. Or your daughter’s.