Over-the-counter hormonal birth control is now available in California and Oregon. Other states are hoping to follow their lead, and Presidential hopeful, Donald Trump has also declared his support for over-the-counter birth control. Considering that birth control has become synonymous with women’s health, this is not surprising. What seems to be missing from this discussion is the fact that oral contraceptive pills (OCP) are not vitamins or supplements; they are pharmaceuticals which come with long list of side effects and risks, as well as lifestyle and drug interactions.
When a woman obtains her prescriptions through her doctor’s office, the impetus is on the doctor to monitor her health and drug interaction concerns (whether they take this role seriously when it comes to birth control, is discussion for another day). But if OCP’s become available over-the-counter, only the pharmacist will be there to ensure her safety. The pharmacist, unlike the physician, has little idea who this woman is, what other medications she is on, or what lifestyle choices she may be making. Who then, will be left to will inform her or to monitor how these powerful pharmaceuticals (designed to disrupt a naturally, well-functioning endocrine system) are affecting her health.
We’ve previously examined the side effects and risks associated with OCP’s, and won’t address them here today. Rather, let’s look at lifestyle and drug interactions are even more ambiguous to the average pill user. Our unquestioning trust in OCP’s has blinded us to these concerns to the point that women believe these cross checks are irrelevant and unnecessary. On the contrary, information on these interactions is a serious concern for women’s health. If proponents get their way, and OCP’s become available over-the counter, there will be little to no regulation of what pill is taken by what women, and no regard for what her personal health needs are.
Lifestyle Interactions with Oral Contraceptives:
The most well-known lifestyle choice that significantly interacts with OCP’s is smoking tobacco. A wave of research in the late nineties researched the effect of smoking while taking OCPs and found that risk of blood clots, venous thromboembolism and stroke are significantly higher, specifically in women over the age of 35. The fight to make the public aware of the dangers of tobacco use has brought this dangerous interaction to light.
Smoking marijuana may also interact with oral contraceptives, although research is limited considering the very recent legalization of recreational marijuana in certain states. Nevertheless, health care providers are able to theorize that “Marijuana may have effects that counteract estrogen. Taking marijuana along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills.” Furthermore, marijuana has been found to have an adverse effect on the circulatory system by increasing heart rate and blood pressure. These symptoms are compounded when alcohol is used in conjunction with the drug. Combine this with the pill’s known association with a higher risk of blood clots and venous thrombosis, and the risks of this combination are easy to see.
Interactions of alcohol and caffeine use with hormonal contraceptives are limited, but worth noting. Alcohol consumption in women using OCPs has been seen to increase the central nervous system effects and blood levels of the alcohol. In other words, while taking OCP’s it may not take as many drinks for a woman to become tipsy. Oral Contraceptives are also seen to decrease the metabolism of caffeine, causing it to linger in your system longer. This may seem like a benefit to some, but according to the University of Illinois Health Center, the effects of the combination are significant enough to encourage women to know and look for the signs of caffeine overdose.
In addition to lifestyle interactions, a popular formulation of the pill (ethinyl estradoil/levenorgestrel) has 533 drug interactions to keep track of as well. Check out this helpful list compiled by the University of Illinois that takes a closer look at a few of those interactions including corticosteroids, over-the-counter pain killers, anti-seizure medications, anti-depressants and more.
Risks associated with hormonal contraception have been ignored to the point that most women do not believe there are any risks at all. The move to make contraception available over-the-counter will only worsen this information gap. The political term “Women’s Health” again overshadows the much more important health of a woman.
Women deserve better!
You can still manage your fertility and plan your family. #Ditchtherisk of hormonal contraceptives. The Billings Ovulation Method is 99.5% effective, 100% risk free and side-effect free, and enables a woman to easily monitor her overall health. If you are one of the many women who deal with PCOS or Endometriosis, the Billings Ovulation Method will not leave you to suffer the effects! Every Billings chart is a hormonal assay that a trained physician can use to diagnose the underlying cause of your ovarian dysfunction (hint: it is NOT hormone imbalance. Your hormones are only a symptom of the deeper issue that needs to be uncovered for you to get back to true health.) Schedule your free informational session with us today by calling (918) 4010-NFP and learn how Billings can help you achieve Women’s Health that is true, honest, and empowering! #NeverSettle for less.
We have received many responses to our latest article asking about the accuracy of a 6-8 day fertile phase. The questions deserved a thorough response, so a follow up article was in order.
Is there anything of value in life that does not take work and self discipline? Lately, this sentiment has been echoed all over pinterest with pictures of an exercise regimen, captioned with an inspirational thought, like “Work Hard, See Results.” Continue reading
Reprinted with kind permission from The Catholic Weekly, Sydney Australia.
by Sharyn Marchant
April 5, 2009
“It was a movement of faith initially; we felt called to this work,” says Dr Evelyn Billings.
Evelyn, who was born in Melbourne in 1918 and grew up in the Riverina, established the Billings Ovulation Method in 1953 with her husband, the late Dr John Billings.
“The method came about through my husband in the 1950s, when the Pill came into vogue,” she says.
“There was only the rhythm method offered (for natural family planning), but a lot of people weren’t interested in the Pill or other contraceptives, and were anxious to know of an alternative.”
Statement of the Caucus for the Advancement of the Billings Ovulation Method to the General Assembly Special Session – United Nations, June 30 – July 2, 1999
Submitted by: Susan Fryer, World Organization Ovulation Method Billings (WOOMB International)
The Caucus for the Advancement of the Billings Ovulation Method, C.A.B.O.M. thanks the Chairman for the opportunity to give a short statement to the General Assembly. We represent thirteen eco-sot NGO organizations present at the Cairo +5 meetings and speak for 60 affiliates of the World Organization of the Ovulation Method Billings teaching the authentic Billings Method in over 100 countries around the world. Teaching materials are published in 22 languages and carry the WOOMB logo to ensure authenticity.
The method is the most simple, natural and effective way in the world of achieving or avoiding pregnancy. In a 1978 five nation study, conducted by the World Health Organizatiion, it was found that 93% of women can return, after just one conversation with a Billings teacher, with a recognizeable chart of the few possibly fertile days and many infertile days in her cycle. With some further instruction in the keeping of a simple chart and in the application of a few commonsense guidelines she will know on which days an act of intercourse can possibly lead to pregnancy and which one cannot possibly do so, ahead of time. It allows parents to be in total charge of their fertility without the costly complications of the contraceptive /sterilization /abortion package. Continue reading
I have just been doing my daily research on birth control/family planning in the news. I come across all kinds of interesting studies and articles. Today I found one called, “My Big Fat Feminist Pregnancy.” I debating taking the time to read it, but decided to see what this feminist was writing about. It all centers around control: control of one’s body, control of ones decisions, control of one’s fertility, control of one’s career after children… CONTROL. She is not combative about it, but I read it feeling sad for this woman. Sad that she sees the only way of “controlling” fertility is the pill, sad that she fears her beloved career suffering because of her baby. Here are my responses…