Women, Men and Birth Control

Women, Men and Birth Control

There is a definite positive economic component to birth control.

Sometimes I read something and I just know that the man writing the letter either hates women or sees all women as a threat. What else could be operating–if not bold ignorance.

So this in the Letters to the Editor, LA Times. ...taking birth control is a choice made by women who do not want to become pregnant. That is their prerogative, but it should not be the financial responsibility of taxpayers or employers. In those rare cases where pregnancy can be life-threatening, private or employer insurance, or even Medicaid, should of course cover it.

Some say that birth control for women and treatments for erectile dysfunction in men should be looked at equally. Not so. One is a medical condition, and the other is a choice. Bob, Laguna, CA.

To pick apart some of this:

  • instead of stating that women simply do not want to become pregnant (and I could write for hours about men who are totally unable to understand our sex’s physical and psychic responsibility as well as physical vulnerability that many men will never understand) the writer should instead realize that birth control is a means for women to POSTPONE pregnancy–for whatever reason they deem necessary;
  • practicing birth control negates his next line about financial responsibility to employers. The woman who plans for a child by taking birth control does so precisely to become economically and socially able to give birth and care for a child. Employers of women should encourage birth control that can aid the woman in learning her job–thus being able to prepare her employer and fellow workers for the time when she will be on maternity leave (if in fact that is offered to her, which it should be.)
  • Then the guy writes: in those rare cases where pregnancy can be life-threatening...I know this was a letter to an editor and thus brief. But he has no idea what he is talking about. If your only knowledge of a pregnancy is a wife, friend or co-worker and you really aren’t interested, then you can’t begin to understand all the conditions that can make a pregnancy life-threatening NOT ONLY FOR THE WOMAN BUT FOR HER CHILD. Thus: Maternal morbidity includes physical and psychologic conditions that result from or are aggravated by pregnancy and have an adverse effect on a woman’s health. The most severe complications of pregnancy, generally referred to as severe maternal morbidity (SMM), affect more than 50,000 women in the United States every year. Based on recent trends, this burden has been steadily increasing.

I’ll take a breath for a moment. I am a big advocate of birth control. I see it as a gift to women who can now control their ability to have children–can now plan for a family that they are able to support and care for. Regardless, life isn’t perfect. Some women discover they are unable to get pregnant after using birth control. Is there a relationship: “With a few notable exceptions, immediately after you stop using birth control, your fertility will go right back to what it was destined to be,” says Paul Blumenthal, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins. There are exceptions.

Some women, me included, find it takes months to get pregnant. And for others, this is definitely not the case. Today, some women who postpone motherhood are freezing their eggs to ward off changes that might affect their individual fertility.

Maybe the writer sees birth control as a means of having sex without responsibility. But as a nurse, I can attest that their is always responsibility connected to HAVING SEX. There is the possibility of social diseases that currently are on an increase. Condoms as a form of birth control help fight the passage of some venereal disease but certainly NOT ALL. And there’s the psychological responsibility of sex–sadness, abandonment, guilt to name a few. Contraception cannot address those issues, but it certainly can provide a time period of adjustment before an infant is introduced into the mix.

Then this guy writes:

  • Some say that birth control for women and treatments for erectile dysfunction in men should be looked at equally. Not so. One is a medical condition, and the other is a choice.

DAMN!! WRONG WRONG WRONG. First off, here is a link to the many medical conditions that doctors treat by prescribing birth control pills. (This editorial letter writer never uses the word PILL, but basically he must be referring to either the pill or the IUD. The pill can be costly and requires a monthly script. Some women cannot take the pill. Though a diaphragm is relatively inexpensive, in real life use it is only 88% effective. IUDS can be very expensive, but are said to be 99% effective.)

ERECTILE DISFUNCTION VS BIRTH CONTROL

The letter writer says ED is a medical condition. He’s right. It is.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, as many as 52 percent of men experience erectile dysfunction, with it affecting 40 percent of men age 40, and 70 percent of men age 70. Men who have heart disease, diabetes and are taking certain medications have higher risks of experiencing erectile dysfunction. (Jun 11, 2013)

But the real kicker? He says that birth control is a choice. No. Birth control is often needed to address issues related to feminine health. Once again, here are a few: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Endometriosis, Amenorrhea, Menstrual Cramps, PMS, and Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. If a woman has other medical conditions that indicate becoming pregnant would be adverse to her overall health, birth control could save her life. You can read about post-partum contraception here.

FINAL THOUGHTS 

Maybe the writer of this editorial letter had just had it with women–after all we are making news and we should be!! I do hope this guy doesn’t have a daughter who needs birth control. Ignorance can often be the beginning of a mistake that spirals out of control and hurts a young life. Women and girls deserve the right to plan their lives and their families. Birth control has allowed that. It helps women stay solvent economically and can prevent abortion — if the birth control works and if in fact that was something the writer didn’t want to mention. I just saw a government ad that said contraception leads to abortion. LIES.

Information is power, but only if it is the right information. And hey that means evidence-based and research-based–words I will continue to use freely despite what anyone says.

PS If we’re talking the cost of Birth Control, consider this: eight to nine thousand for a vaginal delivery and a C-section is higher.

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ACOG ASK ME.Program for Plan B.

Rush Limbaugh and the radical right cannot have it both ways when it comes to women and reproductive rights.

I don’t like abortion.  Yet I do support Roe vs Wade because abortion will not go away if the law changes, and doctors cannot care for their patients and woman are forced again toback alley abortions, infections and death. (As a fellow friend and physician always says: how is this going to go—RvW goes away and there are teams of police arresting doctors across the country??  Insane.)

I support Planned Parenthood which is NOT an abortion mill.  Its main purpose is to assist all women in family planning—that means birth control.  I am a very strong supporter of contraception.  I was blessed with three children, but I used OC (oral contraception) to make sure that in the years that I was fertile, my husband and I didn’t have eight or nine children.  I know my physical and our monetary limitations.  Three was just the right number.  I consider myself very fortunate to all my life have had good healthcare and the ability to use birth control when I needed it.

Many members of the radical right don’t even approve of contraception (All women are to be saints and to bear large numbers of children and give give give; they might not have a life of their own; their health might be damaged; they might die young or turn to alcohol and drugs to get through the days.  Too bad.  They are women and women are to have babies.) 

Many members of the radical right don’t approve or more correctly don’t understand what PLAN B is.  Pharmacists on the radical right have refused to fill scripts for Plan B when a patient presents them and needs them.

PLAN B IS NOT an abortifactant.  It does not stop a pregnancy that has already begun.

It stops a pregnancy from beginning.  It is a very large dose of hormones like the birth control pill.

Radical ideas often don’t allow wiggle room; no questions are asked.  Ignorance is bliss.

I even encountered a pharmacist who believed that PLAN B was an abortifactant.  Do your homework, Buddy, before you go embarrassing a stressed out woman at the counter and refusing to fill her script.  Or change jobs.  You shouldn’t be working in the healthcare field if you don’t want to deliver care.

In May of 2006, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) created the Ask me program.  Read more about it below.  

ACOG Steps Up Efforts to Get Emergency Contraception to Women

 From its Annual Clinical Meeting today, top leaders of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)-the preeminent authority on women’s health-launched a new national campaign, Ask me., aimed at educating women about emergency contraception (EC) and encouraging them to get an advance prescription from their ob-gyn. ACOG developed this campaign to help eliminate the logistical and political barriers that currently exist and make EC largely inaccessible to women.

At a news conference, ACOG President Michael T. Mennuti, MD, ACOG President Elect Douglas W. Laube, MD, MEd, ACOG Immediate Past President Vivian M. Dickerson, MD, and Iffath A. Hoskins, MD, representing ACOG’s Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women, spoke of the critical need for all women of reproductive age to have unimpeded access to emergency contraception, an essential treatment method for protecting and safeguarding their reproductive health. It’s been estimated that greater access to EC could cut unintended pregnancy and abortion rates in half.

“With the Ask me. campaign, ACOG is stepping up our efforts to address this country’s high rate of unintended pregnancy. Nearly half (49%) of the more than 6 million pregnancies that occur each year are unplanned,” Dr. Mennuti said. “Family planning is an important issue for our specialty, and EC is an excellent contraceptive option for millions of women who want to prevent an unintended pregnancy.”

Emergency contraception, also called the morning-after pill, is a higher dosage of the same hormones found in ordinary birth control pills. It is highly effective in reducing a woman’s chance of pregnancy after a contraceptive failure or unprotected sex. This can include rape. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, EC prevents up to 89% of pregnancies; it is most effective if taken within 24 hours.

According to ACOG, over half (53%) of the women who have unplanned pregnancies are using some method of contraception. “Accidents happen. No form of contraception offers women 100% protection,” noted Dr. Mennuti. “By getting women to ask about emergency contraception and by ob-gyns giving them an advance prescription for it, we hope to make EC a forethought, not an afterthought. We want women to be prepared-well before a contraceptive failure or unprotected sex occurs. Afterward may be too late.”

The theme of the Ask me. campaign is “Accidents happen. Morning afters can be tough.” Campaign materials include posters for physician examination and waiting rooms and the Ask me. button-a key element designed to promote dialogue between the patient and her ob-gyn about emergency contraception. 

Dr. Laube explained that currently EC is not available without a prescription, except in a handful of states (AK, CA, HI, ME, MA, NH, NM, VT, and WA). Because of the prescription requirement, many women have difficulty getting EC within the 72-hour efficacy window. “Even with a prescription, women can be denied EC because some pharmacists refuse to dispense it,” he added.

In 2005, at least six states expanded access to emergency contraception. However, more than a dozen states tried to enact laws that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for EC and other drugs that they say are against their beliefs-so-called “conscience clause” or “refusal” legislation. “Emergency contraception is a hot topic at the state level, and women’s health is once again in the middle of this tug of war,” Dr. Laube said.

In May 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration rejected the application from Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to make Plan B®, the only dedicated emergency contraception product on the market, available without a prescription on the basis of insufficient data related to safety. Though now acknowledging that women age 17 and older can safely use Plan B® as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug, the FDA nonetheless has introduced new excuses to continue its delay in making a decision.

“The scientific evidence and medical consensus supporting non-prescription sales of emergency contraception is unparalleled in FDA history,” Dr. Dickerson said. She reiterated ACOG’s support for making EC available directly to women over the counter. “The FDA’s failure to act amounts to a quintessential shell game, in which women are the losers. Not granting national OTC status to Plan B® goes against their mission of promoting public health and welfare. EC’s safety and efficacy are backed by decades of research and are not debatable,” she added. “As champions of women’s health, ACOG endorses non-prescription sales of emergency contraception.”

Studies also show that women are more likely to use EC if they have it readily available. It is estimated that making EC widely available OTC has the potential to prevent at least half of unintended pregnancies in the US (or about 3 million pregnancies annually) and reduce the number of abortions in the US by 50%.

“This is ACOG’s way of standing up for our patients,” noted Dr. Hoskins. “One of our goals is to make awareness of EC so widespread that it’s no longer a best-kept secret in medicine. We’re hopeful that the Ask me. campaign will accomplish that. This would have a profound impact on women’s health.”

Another aspect of the new ACOG initiative is to educate women about what emergency contraception is and how it works. Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy. It is, however, often confused with medical abortion. Emergency contraception and the abortion pill RU-486 are not the same thing. EC works before a pregnancy is established, not afterward. If a woman is already pregnant, EC will not work, nor will it terminate her pregnancy.

“Through the Ask me. campaign, we’re optimistic that our specialty’s proactive approach-by promoting advance prescriptions for EC-will improve wider access and greater usage of EC,” stated Dr. Mennuti. He added, “Unplanned pregnancy is a major public health issue in the US. As ob-gyns, it’s our mission to advocate for, protect, and advance women’s health, and that’s really what this campaign is about.