Should women consider giving their body breaks from the pill?
[The Sydney Morning Herald, 3/20/19] Weight gain, increased risk of breast and cervical cancer, depression, loss of libido, blood clots, even a more “male” brain: these are some of the stated side-effects women may experience from taking the contraceptive pill, Australia’s most popular contraceptive and seemingly, one of the most misunderstood.
Nish Lawrence, 36, says she was making a post-baby visit to her GP for a script when she first heard the pill could increase her risk of stroke.
The GP asked if she had any side effects (no) or any headaches (yes) when previously on the pill.
“It was then that I realised that, since I stopped taking the pill two years before [my daughter] was born, I hadn’t had a headache,” Ms Lawrence said.
“And when [the doctor] asked me what kind of headache, I told her they were dull and I used to lose my peripheral vision – sometimes even all my vision – with tiny flickering spots. She said it sounded like I was actually experiencing an aura, and then told me that I was at a high risk of having a stroke. Terrifying!”
While oral contraceptives can increase the risk of stroke, a 2019 paper found the risk was only very small among women who do not have other stroke risk factors, which, according to VicHealth, include migraines with visual aura such as flashing lights, blind spots, difficulty focusing on things and smoking.
Another 2018 paper published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke concluded that “data linking stroke and OCP (oral contraceptive pill) use in patients with migraine is limited and conflicting”.
All hormonal contraception contains progestin, a synthetic version of the progesterone produced by the body. Progesterone tells the pituitary gland under the brain not to produce the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH), which are necessary to keep the menstrual cycle going uninterrupted.
Like Ms Lawrence, millions of women take the pill every day. But few give any thought to what taking hormones, one of the fundamental mechanisms for controlling the body, for years can do…..
Read the Full Article at: The Sydney Morning Herald
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