Sunday, August 9, 2009

Natural Family Planning: Part 2: The Pill

It's funny that so many people disregard NFP because they think that it doesn't work. I know a number of women who became pregnant while on the pill (actually I know more women who became pregnant on the pill than I know that use NFP) but I've never heard complaints that the pill doesn't work. Pill manufacturers claim a 1% failure rate. In practice it tends to be between 1.9% and 18% during its first year of use.

If the pill fails people are willing to place the blame on the woman taking it, because there is an automatic assumption that it must be some sort of user error (was she taking antibiotics that made it less effective, or did she take it inconsistently?). If a couple avoiding using NFP fails, it must be because the method is ineffective, or even impossible.

I also find it odd that so many of my friends who are so concerned with buying organic food products, because they wouldn't want to put chemicals or hormones into their bodies, have no problem popping a pill, to change a basic function of their bodies, without giving it much thought.

That's why today's NFP post is dedicated to The Pill (and why you don't want it going into your body).

Here are some basics: The pill generally works in three ways.

First they are designed to suppress ovulation. The pill is supposed to interrupt the hormones that the pituitary gland emits that stimulate an egg to ripen and be released from an ovary. A woman is thus chemically sterile (this is generally not the case with the progestin only pill).

If that doesn't work they are supposed to inhibit implantation. The progestin in both the combination pill and the mini pill cause the uterine lining to become thin and shriveled so the egg can't implant. If an egg is fertilized this causes an abortion.

Lastly the pill impedes sperm migration, by making the mucus in a woman's cervix thicker and more difficult for sperm to travel through.

These are the most common ways that the pill works... Now, for some ugly side effects (or, why I wouldn't put the pill into my body even if I were an atheist):

Heart and Blood Abnormalities- including blog clots, which can block the flow of blood to critical organs and systems. Possible results can include heart attacks, a stroke or brain hemorrhage, a pulmonary embolism, renal artery thrombosis, and blindness. Studies have showed that low dose pill users are twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-pill users (it is projected that the risk would be even higher with the regular dose pill. For smokers on the pill the risk of heart attack is twelve times greater.

Breast Cancer- has also been linked again and again to pill use. A study in Swedish women found that those on the pill were five times more likely to develop breast cancer. It isn't a coincidence that as younger women have begun taking the pill more incidences of breast cancer have been reported in young women.

Cervical Cancer and Cervical Dysplasia- rates increase among women on the pill although it is unclear whether it is the pill or the high risk behavior that is more common with pill users that causes the increase.

Live Tumors in women 15-40 years has also increased as pill use increased, along with a higher occurrence of other types of cancers.

Here are some other side effects from the Couple to Couple League Website:

Headaches, migraines, mental depression (even to the point of suicide and/or suicidal tendencies), a decrease or loss of sexual drive, abdominal cramps, bloating, weight gain or loss, and water retention; nausea and vomiting(in about 10% of users); symptoms of PMS, vaginitis and vaginal infections, changes in vision (temporary or permanent blindness, and an intolerance to contact lenses); gall bladder disease and either temporary or permanent infertility, when discontinuing the Pill, in users with previous menstrual irregularities or who began the drug before full maturity. Several of the symptoms, such as migraine headaches, contraindicate the use of the Pill because of life endangering complications.

These seem like some major risks to take to separate sex from the act of possibly creating a life, maybe because they aren't supposed to be separated. Our culture would like us to believe that popping a pill can solve every, real or imagined, problem. In the case of the pill, more problems are created then could possibly be "solved." And we haven't even looked at the moral aspect of the subject.


  1. Hi there! I found your blog after reading one of your posts on the Catholic Answers forum - I hope you don't mind! I just wanted to say that this was a great post. I wish it could be broadcast from the mountaintops!!!

    God bless you!

    P.S. The matching mommy/daughter dresses are ADORABLE!

  2. I respect folks who use NFP. They bear all the risks associated with it, particularly if they have health problems associated with pregnancy. No one has the right to say they should not use it.

    As far as advocating that others use it, I must say that I have an issue with your observation, no doubt true, that you know more women who have become pregnant on the Pill than when using NFP.

    You can make that observation simply because so many more women use the Pill than NFP. Because of that, statistically speaking, more women using the Pill will get pregnant.

    The Pill is still more effective as birth control than NFP.

  3. Hi Anonymous-

    And yet no baby was ever aborted, accidently or otherwise, by NFP. It happens with the pill.

    Statistically speaking, in practice, they're success rates are very similar.

    Of course I imagine you would contest the success rates claimed by studies all around the world, some down by renowned universities... I'm starting to believe that some people disregard NFP as effective, simply because they want an excuse not to use it. If you're Catholic however, it's an obligation.

    And even if I were not religious, I would have a problem with putting all of those hormones in my body. I remember what it did to me, and quite simply, it's not worth it.

  4. Hi Cathy! I don't mind at all and I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I think that if more women really understood NFP and the risks associated with the Pill, they would definitely be more likely to make the change!


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