A shot in arm to prevent pregnancy

The Times of India

Jyoti Shelar, MUMBAI MIRROR, Jan 15, 2011, 12.50pm IST

Indian doctors give go-ahead to radical new contraceptive method despite complaints from users in London.

A team of senior gynaecologists has given the nod for the large-scale distribution of the first injectable contraceptive in India, certifying it fool-proof, even though at least 550 London women who used the implant in recent weeks had complained that it didn’t stop them from getting pregnant.

The city doctors who conducted trials on the contraceptive have told the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that it is 99.99 percent safe, and that its chances of failure are zero.

No other temporary contraceptive method has received a zero per cent fail rating until now. ICMR is working on introducing the implant in a national programme.

The matchstick-size implant is injected in a woman’s arm, and remains under the surface of the skin. It releases a hormone, Progesterone, at regular intervals, which prevents pregnancy for a span of three years. The injecting process takes only five minutes.

“We did not get a single case where the implant failed. All 200 women in the city led normal lives for three years without any major side effects,” said Dr Rekha Daver, head of the gynaecology department at JJ Hospital. She was among the 15 gynaecologists ICMR had appointed in 2004 to conduct trails across the country on a sample of 3,000 women over a period of six years.

Trial found that the women got back to their regular fertility cycles at the end of the three-year period, or if it was removed earlier. “All of them were able to conceive and those who continued with the pregnancy delivered babies without any abnormalities,” she said. Gynaecologists are hoping that, once available, this contraceptive will bring in a drastic decline in cases of unwanted pregnancies.

Daver did say there were minor side effects – weight gain and irregular periods. “These, however, are common with any other kind of contraceptive because they release hormones,” she added.

But many of women in London, who were dissatisfied after using the contraceptive, complained to British health authorities of scarring and psychological problems, apart from the fact that they had conceived despite the implant.

Daver, however, blamed that on incorrect injection. “The implant needs to be inserted correctly in the sub-dermal level of the arm, between the biceps and the triceps. The process is extremely easy but it has to be done in the right manner,” she said.

She contended that the London failure rate, in any case, did not reflect on how the contraceptive worked on “Indian women”. “If the implant has failed in women abroad, there can be other factors responsible. As far as our research is concerned, it has worked wonderfully.”

Excuse Me? Like there is a difference between women’s endocrine systems and their reactions to synthetic hormones?

The beginning of another medical experiment on women – in a country where there is an inadequate tracking system. Synthetic progesterone is also used for sexual castration on sex offenders.

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PG

Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.