Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Form of Birth Control May Seem Convenient, but is it Worth the Risks?

Although this can be a sensitive topic to some, and I know there are people who don't feel comfortable addressing it; it needs to be discussed. This topic is birth control. Even though I know there are many men reading this blog, I feel as if this subject should be addressed. I have recently dealt with various issues concerning different types of birth controls. Each brand and method has their own risks, just as any other type of drug or medicine. The problem with birth control is that many girls are too afraid to ask questions. Anyone taking a prescription needs to be aware of the side effects and this is no exception.


While being home over vacation, I recently met with my doctor to discuss trying new forms of birth control. Being an extremely busy student, I want a form of birth control that I don’t have to worry about remembering to take every day. One of her first suggestions was Depo Provera, a shot that women receive once every twelve weeks. My first concerns were the side effects, in which she told me that about 60% of women do notice sufficient weight gain. My reaction, “no thank you!” But besides being vain, I also opted out on this form of birth control for other reasons; it just was not right for me.

As I was surfing Science Daily, I ran across the article “Hormone in Birth Control Shot Linked to Memory Loss.” Naturally, I became intrigued and wanted to know more. The Depo Provera shot contains an active hormone called medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA), which is not found in other forms of birth control such as the pill. This hormone already has a history of effecting bone density, but now it appears that it does indeed effect memory loss as well. An experiment performed last year with different groups of rats showed that at any point in their lifetime were cognitively impaired, compared to rats who had not received the hormone. MPA is also used for post-menopausal women, so that is why some women don’t start taking it until later in life. Even worse, it was also confirmed that when MPA was no longer in the subject’s system even months later, it still was showing effects on the brain.


This article was written November 1, 2011. Although it is a few months old, this is a very up and coming discovery in women’s health. I write to not only the ladies, but to you gentlemen too! Be aware of what you are putting in your body. Granted, no one knew until recently that Depo Provera had these memory loss effects. But that does not change the fact that it is still important to ask questions! Never just assume that because your doctor recommends it, that the drug is perfect for you. I have experienced health issues due to taking wrong forms of medication, and I listened to my body and made the change. Worst comes to worst, you’re embarrassed and blush for a few minutes during your doctors appointment. In the long term, those few minutes could save you years on your brain and body.


Taylor Pirog (2)

14 comments:

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    2. This blog should be posted on bulletin board in doctor offices. I am in shock that the medical field is allowing this medicine to be produced if it causes that much harm to a woman's body when they can easily use another form of birth control. Doctors should at least know all the major side effects of drugs they are recommending. I agree with the main point that everybody needs to ask questions, no matter how embarrassing they are if it is about putting unfamiliar substances into your body.

      Posted by Jen Silva

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  3. This is such an interesting and relevant topic! Many of my friends have been testing out different types of birth control and we find it's very helpful to talk to each other about our different experiences. I also agree with your statement that it's important to ask questions. Sure it might be embarrassing to ask your doctor certain things but that's what they're there for! Many of the people in this class want to be doctors and I'm sure when they are they would be very disappointed if their patients did not voice their concerns. Overall, birth control can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss but with the various harmful side effects such as lowered fertility, hormonal imbalances, and as you said memory loss it is very important to voice concerns. Excellent topic choice!

    Posted By Erica Bonnell

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  4. fascinating post. I totally agree that we should ask questions and be properly informed about the side effects. Especially now when we have the choice of so many different types of medication just to treat an illness. Also, it is a good idea to do some research on a medicine before buying it. Sometimes doctors leave out information either because they honestly forgot, or sometimes they do so because the companies supplying the medicine are paying the doctors to push their products.

    -Hermann Kam

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  5. You make a good point. It seems these days everyone wants to put the question of birth control to rest, when clearly much more needs to be done. The side effects for some of the drugs they are putting out these days are horrific. I just saw a TV commercial warning the family of those who take certain types of birth control for that very reason. These products need more testing and preparation.

    posted by Dorian Pillari

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  6. My question is: why is this drug still on the market if it has such negative side effects? The memory loss issue is a recent find, but researchers have known for years that this particular birth control causes rapid bone loss.
    I feel like there are a lot of physiological things that scientists don’t know about birth control, and there are a lot of health risks that consumers are unaware of.

    Posted by Erica Fitzpatrick

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    1. As it has been said below in other responses, there are health risks with any drug. There can be side effects even with some of the most common antibiotics. Although, some side effects vary by person while this study seemed to effect everyone who used it. The problem is, this is the only birth control in this form. It is still being consumed and people still do prefer its simplicity. In the grand scheme of things, there are many drugs with worse side effects. The problem that I have with Depo Provera is that this side effect as of now, is still pretty much hidden from the public. But as far as them taking it off the market, I don't see that happening.

      posted by Taylor Pirog

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  7. This is a very interesting yet disturbing post that I am sure most people are not aware of. There has been great controversy lately about forms of birth conrtol causing blood clots and many other issues, which should be addressed. I was recently worried about taking a form of birth control because of recent known side effects yet when asking my doctor of my concerns and researching the issue further, I found the increased likely hood of negative side effects to be of little concern. Yet, it is important to be careful, do research and to ask questions to ensure the medication you are outting in your body is right for you.

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  8. Unfortunately, many prescription drugs have some heavy consequences, but sometimes those consequences are outweighed by a drug's benefits. Have you ever watched a commercial for arthritis medication or Cystic Fibrosis, and been appalled by the list of possible side affects and wondered why on earth would someone take the medication? Especially when death is listed as a possible 'side affect'? Choosing the right birth control can be challenging, and it is all too often that doctors really don't discuss what a woman's options mean and leave a woman to her own devices to make a choice. Many birth controls are used to treat other medical conditions, such as acne or poly-cystic ovaries (PCOS) or birth control can be contraindicated by diseases such as lupus and certain thyroid conditions.

    Many women also don't understand or aren't made fully aware that some birth controls are either estrogen or estrogen-progesterone combinations, and some options are hormone free, such as certain IUD's.

    My suggestion if you're concerned about birth control, hormonal side affects but want protection without having to remember to take a pill is to read about IUD's and ring type methods, such as the NuvaRing.

    It is important to remember, however, that prescription drugs carry side affects, but the majority of users do not experience symptoms or at least not serious side affects. The only problem is, you just don't know if you're going to be that 1 in 100, 1 in 1000 or 1 in a million that does have a serious aversion.

    Karen-Maria Melendez

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  9. Coming from a gentleman's point of view I do feel that this is a topic that everyone should be aware of. Pharmaceutical companies are coming out with newer and newer drugs each year. These go through a very long testing process but in some cases we really don't know the harmful side effects unfortunately until many years down the road. This just goes to show you be careful of what you put into your body and do some heads up research before hand.

    Posted by Nicco Ciccolini

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  10. Making sure you understand the side-effects is absolutely vital. When I was younger I went to a dermatologist to see about my bad acne and they prescribed me Accutane. I normally consider myself a fairly level person but once on the drug I would scream, cry, and laugh all within a half hour period on a routine basis. I then learned online that many people had the same experience and that mood swings and depression were common side effects of the drug. I realized that I didn't want nice skin THAT badly and ended up not taking it anymore. I should have looked up the drug beforehand but now my lesson is learned: always make sure you understand the side-effects.

    Mike Selden

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