By Hwaa Irfan
- “I do wish to emphasize that on safety grounds the diaphragm is clearly the best contraceptive”.
– Djerassi, the inventor of the Pill in the publication “The Politics of Contraceptives”
In nature, the human body’s inability to conceive of child is prevented by one of the following conditions:
• Extreme hunger/anorexia due to low body fat which is exampled by young sports women who obsess on keeping their weight down to a minimum level
• Psychological stress
• Born sterile
• Physiological disorder
At the beginning of the journey towards objectification of our bodies as objects of pleasure, middle class women at the turn of the 20th century sought to extrapolate their bodies from its normal function in an attempt to take control of their meaningless lives. The poor were the means by which such women activists as Marie Stopes and Margaret Sanger were to exercise, impose and advance systemic birth control at the beginning of the 20th century. Years later, the logic of one Arab Muslim woman to renowned and controversial feminist, Germaine Greer has turned out to be true:
“A woman who uses the pill is afraid she will bear a sterile child: from her mother’s milk comes the baby’s blood and from his blood originated his semen. And in his blood will remain the chemical made for the prevention of pregnancy. Boys and girls alike, the Pill will make them sterile. And sterility is considered by us a punishment of God”
This was the case with the high oestrogen contraceptive DES (diethylstilboestrol), for the sons and daughters born of women who took DES, had impaired fertility. As many as 5 – 7 million women in California took DES, and of those only 45% of these women were able to have children.
According to Dr. Mercola, the Economist wrote:
“The birth control pill, which the FDA approved 50 years ago, was the first medicine designed to be taken by people who were not sick. In 1999, it was called the most important scientific advance of the 20th century”
Carl Djerassi, the inventor of the Pill in the early 1950s acclaimed:
“… it is the only patent for a drug listed in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington”
The body in full health has all that it needs to sustain itself outside of the necessary “foods” for sustenance and maintenance, and outside of external forces which may undermine the functioning of the body as a part of nature’s law. The hormonal system of the body plays a fundamental role as “gofers” of the body transporting any necessary chemical deposits to their target points. When we add artificial hormones to what we already have for whatever reason, we upset the workings of the body’s own hormones.
Progesterone was chosen in the early 20th century because even then, the carcinogenic properties of estrogen although miscalculated, had been recognized. But what are the overall implications when the entire endocrine system is disrupted?
A case presented to the British High Court of 100+ women, involved Organon Laboratories, Schering Healthcare and Wyeth. Filed under the Consumer Protection Act, the argument was that ‘the pill’ is unsafe and further research should have been carried out before the third generation pill was introduced in the early ‘80s. Representing lawyer Martyn Day informed the media:
“We now know that these third generation pills double the risk of women for developing dangerous blood clots.”
Naturally, the manufacturers argue that the third generation pill is safe and that the legal action is unfounded.
Most mainstream pro-contraceptive studies will admit to, but play down the risk of contracting cancer from taking the Pill over a long period of time. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, a wing of W.H.O., have found otherwise from evaluation of extensive long term research of scientific evidence. One of the side effects of the Pill is liver cancer, which under normal circumstances is a rare disease. which is quite logical as the liver the is the organ through which our blood is cleansed via a process of detoxification . The IARC came to the conclusion that the combined oestrogen-progesterone Pill, and the progesterone-oestrogen combination applied in menopausal therapy are carcinogens in the human body. In 2007 the National Cancer Institute, US, found that:
• Over 5500 women died from liver cancer as a result of using the Pill
• 3600 women died from cervical cancer as a result of using the Pill
• 40,000 died from breast cancer as a result of taking the Pill
In 2003, the U.S., National Cancer Institute, NCI found that in the case of breast cancer amongst young women, the adolescent anatomy is vulnerable to carcinogens like the Pill, because they have not experienced 9 months of pregnancy.
Justice Sandra Day O-Connor had the following damning statement to give on the Pill:
“It is because our entire culture is organized around contraception and its twisted sister abortion?
“For two decades, people have organized intimate relationships… in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail…”
Dr. Mercola reminds us of what we expect of the body when we take the Pill:
• Preventing your ovaries from releasing eggs
• Thickening your cervical mucus to help block sperm from fertilizing an egg
• Thinning the lining of your uterus, which would make it difficult for an egg to implant, should it become fertilized
In other words we are expecting the body to behave unnaturally. The risks women open themselves up to are:
• Fatal blood clots
• Thinner bones
• Impaired muscle gains
• Long-term sexual dysfunction
• Heart disease
• Early menopause
• Reduced fertility in the male and female children of women who take the Pill long term.
After the 1995 pill scare, British women’s use of the pill had dropped sharply and so did the incidence of venous thromboembolism among oral contraceptive users. The clotting of blood mainly in the calves causes red, swollen and painful legs. The blood clot travels in the bloodstream resulting in what is known as venous thromboembolism. A clot can lodge in the lungs causing pulmonary embolism resulting in breathlessness, sharp pains in the chest and possible collapse.
Venous thromboembolism can also occur as a result of pregnancy, which is the argument used by the British Health Ministry and others to placate the issue. In response to the scare, the Ministry of Health issued a press statement and sent letters to general practitioners and pharmacists highlighting the ‘possible increased’ risk of venous thromboembolism due to low dose oral contraceptives.
These contraceptives contain synthetic desogestrel or gestodene –third- generation oral contraceptives. Women were to be made aware of the risks yet at the same time to be advised that there was no need to change from ‘existing choices’.
This response was based on five studies made in December ’95 – January ’96. All those studies had confirmed that third-generation oral contraceptives double the risk of venous thromboembolism. The European medicine regulators and The Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products concluded that women on the third-generation combined oral contraceptives Femodene, Femoden ED, Femodette, Marvelon, Mercilon, Minulet, Triadene and Tri-Minulet are only at a slightly higher risk of developing venous thromboembolism than those who used second generation pills, progestagen and levonorgestrel. The U.K authorities concluded their delegations on the issue in 1999 and supplied information for leaflets placed in pill packets. They emphasized no need for women to discontinue the pill. The Department of Health also supported this and emphasized, “THAT THERE IS NO RISK.”
A further refined analysis confirmed that third-generation contraceptives containing progestagen, desogestrel or gestodene are linked to the higher risk of venous thromboembolism. The study also confirmed a risk with second-generation levonorgestrel. Using the British General Practice Research Database, women aged 15-39 who had received pill prescriptions from January ’93 – December ’99 were identified. This study included the period leading up to the pill-scare and the period immediately after. Before the scare, 63% of oral contraceptives used were third-generation. After the scare, it had dropped to 18%. In the study, 106 women had developed venous thromboembolism. Of these, 42 used levonorgestrel and 63 used third-generation contraceptives. During both periods, the incidence of venous thromboembolism was higher for women who used the third-generation pill (equating to 37-41 cases per 100,000) relative to second-generation levonorgestrel (equating to 20-23 per 100,000). This was reflected in the significant corresponding fall in cases after 1995 along with the decreased level of users. The risk factors identified in the World Health Organization’s collaborative study on cardiovascular disease and steroid hormone contraceptives included:
a) body weight over 25kg/m²
b) a history of hypertension in pregnancy
c) a history of varicose veins and c) the presence of rheumatic heart disease.
However, venous thromboembolism only represents the most evident aspect of contraceptive use.
Aging Effects of the Pill
Feminist Germaine Greer had argued against the widespread distribution of oral contraceptives in developing countries by foreign benefactors. Whether in developed or developing nations, the problem still applies.
“While it is still painfully obvious that our youngest women need contraceptive protection, it seems hardly less obvious that sex steroids are the wrong protection. We cannot afford to trivialize a medication as mysterious and powerful as the contraceptive steroid. If some delayed consequence of its action should make its appearance sometime in the next 20 or 30 years we want to have some chance of tracking down those of our children who are at risk.”
An expert in this field, Professor Erik Odeblad of the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Umea in Sweden has been studying the cervix for over 40 years. He discovered the different types and properties of the cervical secretions including G, L, and S-Mucus in the late ‘50s and the P-Mucus in the late ‘80s. The P-Mucus causes the wet-sensation that a woman feels on her peak fertility day. The mucus-producing cells atrophy as a result of contraceptives therefore reducing fertility.
Under healthy circumstances, pregnancy counteracts the normal aging process and rejuvenates the cervix. The cervix of a 33-year old woman becomes that of a 20-year old. Long-term use of the pill reverses this effect and the cervix of a 33-year old woman becomes that of a 45-year old. The cervical canal becomes narrower. The third-generation gestodene pill has a similar effect. Lower dose progestagens are in fact more powerful and persist longer in the body. Like all oral contraceptives, the lower dose pills’ primary purpose is to sterilize by inhibiting the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, critical to human endocrine function. The secondary function is to stimulate G-Mucus secretory cells. This creates a contraceptive barrier to the sperm.
Normally, G-Mucus secretion takes place in the stomach and the duodenum. Responsible for the production of gastrin in the stomach, G-Mucus stimulates the release of gastric hydrochloric acid and pepsin for digestion.
Progestagen, whether combined or alone as in the mini-pill, has the same action as the ‘morning after pill’, preventing implantation of the embryo, leaving it nowhere to go if conception occurs resulting in abortion. Contraceptives affect mucus production, and the producing cells as a result atrophy, changing the biochemistry of the cervix and reducing fertility.
There are also very strong signs that men could also be affected. A study carried out by the British Environment Agency examined 10 lowland rivers over a five-year period. As a result of estrogen in urine from the contraceptive pill passing through the sewage works, they found 50% of male fish had developed eggs in their testes and many cases had developed female reproductive ducts. This has been linked to the human population’s dramatic fall in sperm count.
Desire, passion, lust may seem to be the only source of pleasure, but is it sustainable emotionally, psychologically, physiologically, and spiritually – might this price on one’s liberty be a bit too high? If you experience the immediate effect of the following after taking the Pill, stop taking the Pill and re-evaluate your life.
• Migraines and nausea
• Weight gain and mood changes
• Irregular bleeding or spotting
• Breast tenderness
• Yeast overgrowth and infection
Today, there are many women who may say “So what it is my life”, but it is not just your life! The dilemma in the individualistic push towards liberty and freedom, and towards the antithesis of what and who we are may be summed up as follows:
“The individual woman must make what she can of the remote chance of catastrophe to herself and her children if she takes the Pill, and then she must address herself to the much more relevant problem of how she feels while taking it. The commonest effect of steroid munching is depression, from mild to clinical. Depression is one symptom which utterly destroys the quality of life (and with it, sex) so it would appear that the 30% of Pill takers who are depressed should throw away their pills and abstain periodically instead.
The fact that they do not usually throw away their pills is further evidence of the malaise which underlies much oral contraceptive practice. For far too many women the oral contraceptive is just another version of the line of least resistance. They do not make love when they feel like it, and cannot exert any influence on the frequency of sexual relations or the form they take. For them oral contraception does not open any vistas of new freedom, but simply removes one of the inconveniences of their enforced receptivity.
“For other women, the threat of unwanted pregnancy is so paralyzing that it destroys their sexual pleasure even when they are not depressed; throwing away the Pill would only work for them if they were sure that other techniques of birth control were both available and equally effective” – G. Greer
Islam has prepared us for what we cannot foresee and is not against the prevention of conception but is against infanticide. If politics doesn’t get in the way of the British women’s legal claim, one prays that more honest and long-term research is carried out. Look not to the instant benefits but to the consequences on the long-term health of women and their offspring. In many cases, the pattern of disease is set into motion by the changing external and internal environment. The cervix, one of the most complex organs of the body, can be damaged by exposure to toxic substances including the synthetic hormones of the pill. If there are women who want to make that choice, allow that choice to be an informed one.
The belief that free wanton sex seems all too normal, as the animal passions have been let loose and roam rampant. In fact, everything from politics to what one buys in the supermarket is sold through women’s bodies as vehicles of the obtainable. The result is dysfunctional and broken families left to build a society, where love, compassion, and bonding unfolds itself in the psychological disorders of many who wish for love, compassion and the bonding that only a healthy family can nurture.
Endometriosis was once known as the “career woman’s disease” because these women were at greater risk of contracting endometriosis. It has since be found that endometriosis occurs in women who have a greater number of menstrual cycles. i.e. the delay of childbirth. Endometriosis is a hormone dependent disease due to the high circulation of oestrogen which would be ameliorated by pregnancy.
It is time women listened to their own voices. Not the voice of the mainstream media that promotes women who cover themselves as being “afraid of their sexuality”, in order that amorphous “they” may free up women’s sexuality for their profit (both illegal and legal). Not the voices of the women who want more women in public positions, not the voices of the state who worry about worker bees for state production, or the voices of men who have lost all sense of responsibility. Not the voices of both men and women who want women to do as men do, but to listen to the voices from their own inner voice which will always center them in their own beingness.
This is an updated version of the article The in Reproductive Management” written in 2002.
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