Fertility fear fuelled by the pill


December 1, 2010

POI (primary ovarian ineffectiveness) can cause irregular menstruation cycles, bone loss and, when ignored, infertility, according to an audio segment on National Public Radio (NPR), a nonprofit membership US-based media organisation. Many link stress and diet to skipped periods, as well as unusually light or heavy flows. However, gynecologists may be overlooking a more serious health concern – POI, “the disruption in reproductive hormones that affects one in 100 women by age 40”.

Lawrence M. Nelson, MD, gynecologist and investigator at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Human Development in the United States believes putting women on the pill as a quick fix without conducting a simple blood test that could spot POI, is a mistake that can cause long-term problems and even infertility.

Nelson said: “The menstrual cycle is just seen more as a nuisance by many women. But actually, [when periods are regular] it’s a sign that the ovaries and the whole endocrine system related to reproduction is working the way it should.”

He continued: “Birth control pills don’t cause the condition but they can mask it for years.

“It might be reassuring to women to think, ‘Oh, it looks like things are fine now, because my periods are coming,’ but, in fact, their ovaries aren’t supplying the hormones to make that happen, so it’s masking the fact that their ovaries aren’t working.”

POI is a condition that can come and go. Just because a woman has it doesn’t mean she can’t get pregnant.

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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.