[Leslie Carol Botha: Laura Wershler has written an excellent commentary on a disturbing new trend in birth control. When women stop becoming mindful about their bodies and their menstrual cycles and start ‘masking’ them with long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), they are also affecting their overall health, and the health of their offspring. We need to be aware that these synthetic hormones not only stay in our bodies but, they are also passed on to our children – one of the reasons why girls are going into puberty at an earlier and earlier age.]
Society for Menstrual Cycle Research
Coming Off The Pill: Considering “forget-about-it” birth control?
May 30th, 2012
by Laura Wershler
If you quit the pill would you replace it with forget-about-it or mindful birth control?
How you feel about your body, your menstrual cycle and your sexual relationship(s) will influence your choice. Another consideration might be your attitude towards an unintended pregnancy.
On the Coming off the Pill (COTP) MIND MAP GUIDE I proposed in an earlier post in this Coming Off The Pill series, mindful methods dominate the Birth Control branch: condom, spermicide, diaphragm, fertility awareness and copper IUD. Only the latter could be considered forget-about-it birth control. Have it put in, then forget about it.
What got me thinking about this dichotomy is the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. More than 7500 participants were free to choose, with all costs covered, from a range of contraceptives. (Diaphragms and fertility awareness training were not included.) Contraceptive failure rates over the course of the study were compared for the methods offered. The key result?
“Women who used birth-control pills, the patch or vaginal ring were 20 times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than those who used longer-acting forms such as an intrauterine device (IUD) or implant.”
The difference in effectiveness was even more profound for women under 21 who used the pill, patch or ring. Their risk for unintended pregnancy with these methods, versus long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), was almost twice as high as for older women.
The reason for the higher failure rates is human error. Women, and especially women under 21 it seems, don’t always remember to take their pills, change their patches, or check to ensure their rings haven’t fallen out. These methods require a certain degree of mindfulness. The reason that LARCs are more effective, according to senior author Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, is “because women can forget about them after clinicians put the devices in place.”