The pill: worth the risk?

United Kingdom
University of York’s website

February 23, 2010

The pill is the most popular form of contraception in the UK and, if used correctly, is 99% effective. 28% of women aged 16-49 use it. It comprises of artificial sex hormones related to oestrogen and progesterone (sometimes progesterone alone; the mini pill). The pill completely changes the behaviour of a woman’s cycle, suppressing fluctuations and stopping ovulation entirely.

Typically, girls are told the pill is the best form of contraception. But recently GPs have noticed a rise in women requesting other types of contraception.
“The pill made me crazy, I became really irrational and paranoid. It also put a huge strain on my relationship. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t worth it,” says Meredith*.

Weight gain and skin problems are often the primary concerns of women considering the pill.

However, if you read the small print on the drug websites or the leaflets provided with pill packets, there is a plethora of alarming warnings concerning vomiting, jaundice, migraines, fatigue, urinary tract infections, cystitis, eczema, acne, mouth ulcers and varicose veins. We tend not to read the miniscule writing on medical pamphlets and if we do, we tend to think, “it won’t happen to me”.

While the NHS website admits there may be “minor side effects including mood swings, breast tenderness and headaches”, there are many more to add to this list, including an increased risk of breast cancer.

In July 2005, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the pill as “carcinogenic to humans”, placed in the same category as tobacco and asbestos leading to increasing numbers of women seeking an alternative method.



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.