The "Cancer-Causing Convenience" All Women Should Avoid
This is something that most people would rarely ever consider, but according to researchers, women who are on birth control pills may inadvertently be misled to select less compatible long-term partners than women who aren't on the Pill… Whether or not this is of any real concern to most is debatable, but contraceptive pills may also wreak havoc in your life in more direct ways...
It's a fairly well-known fact that odor plays an important role when selecting a partner. This includes the scents that you cannot consciously detect, such as pheromones. (A few years ago, researchers discovered that a specific olfactory nerve, dubbed "Nerve O," appears to be the route through which pheromones are processed. Nerve "O" has endings in your nasal cavity, but the fibers go directly to the sexual regions of your brain. Because Nerve O bypasses your olfactory cortex, it does not register a conscious smell, but rather identifies chemical sexual cues.)
Humans, like animals, also have major histocompatibility complex-associated (MHC) odor preferences that influence their choice of mates. Researchers have discovered that women, in general, prefer the body odor of men with dissimilar MHC. It is believed that this may be part of a natural selection process to prevent and control genetic inbreeding. When partners have similar MHC, their chances of successfully reproducing are diminished.
However, when a woman is on the Pill, her odor preferences change. The Pill essentially mimics pregnancy, and when a woman is pregnant, she tends to prefer the scent of men with similar MHC as her own—perhaps as a biological cue to now seek out and bond with supportive family members as opposed to potential mates.
What this means is that when you're taking a hormonal contraceptive, you interfere with your biology and risk producing a hormonal imbalance that might make you more attracted to men with similar chemical makeup. If you were on the pill when you met your mate, you might, therefore, feel less attracted to him when you stop taking it—or worse, you may have greater trouble getting pregnant. Needless to say, either of these scenarios could cause problems within the relationship...
However, there's another issue that may be of even greater importance, and that is the health effects that birth control pills have on the female body.
Cancer: Women who take birth control pills increase their risk of cervical and breast cancers, and possibly liver cancer as well.
Thinner bones: Women who take birth control pills have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than women who have never used oral contraceptives.
Heart disease: Long-term use of birth control pills may increase plaque artery buildups in your body that may raise your risk of heart disease.
Fatal blood clots: All birth control pills increase your risk of blood clots and subsequent stroke. And if your prescription contains the synthetic hormone desogestrel, your risk of fatal blood clots nearly doubles!
Impaired muscle gains: A recent study found that oral contraceptive use impairs muscle gains from resistance exercise training in women.
Long-term sexual dysfunction: The Pill may interfere with a protein that keeps testosterone unavailable, leading to long-term sexual dysfunction including decreased desire and arousal.
Weight gain and mood changes
Yeast overgrowth and infection
Safer Options Exist—Top Eight Natural Birth Control Methods
•Male condoms: Condoms have a 98 percent effectiveness rate when used correctly. A water-based lubricant will increase the effectiveness; do not use an oil-based lubricant, however, as they break the latex.
•Female condoms: These thin, soft polyurethane pouches fitted inside the vagina before sex are 95 percent effective. Female condoms are less likely to tear than male condoms.
•Diaphragm: Diaphragms, which must be fitted by a doctor, act as a barrier to sperm. When used correctly with spermicidal jellies, they are 92 to 98 percent effective.
•Cervical cap: This heavy rubber cap fits tightly against the cervix and can be left in place for 48 hours. Like the diaphragm, a doctor must fit the cap. Proper fitting enhances the effectiveness above 91 percent.
•Cervical sponges: The sponge, made of polyurethane foam, is moistened with water and inserted into the vagina prior to sex. It works as a barrier between sperm and the cervix, both trapping and absorbing sperm and releasing a spermicide to kill them. It can be left in for up to 24 hours at a time. When used correctly, the sponge is about 89-91 percent effective.
Aside from these barrier methods, there are also natural family planning (NFP) tools that a woman can use to track her ovulation. Many women feel empowered by NFP because it allows them to get in touch with their fertility cycle.
Some of the most popular NFP methods include:
•Calendar Method: Abstention from sex during the week the woman is ovulating. This technique works best when a woman's menstrual cycle is very regular. However, it may not work very well for couples who use it as the sole means of contraception, as its success rate is only around 75 percent. You can boost its effectiveness by combining it with the temperature and mucus methods described below.
•The Temperature Method: This is a way to pinpoint the day of ovulation so that sex can be avoided for a few days before and after. It involves taking your basal body temperature (your temperature upon first waking) each morning with an accurate "basal" thermometer, and noting the rise in temperature that occurs after ovulation.
Beware that illness or lack of sleep can change your body temperature and make this method unreliable by itself, but when it is combined with the mucus method, it can be an accurate way of assessing fertility. The two methods combined can have a success rate as high as 98 percent.
•The Mucus Method: This involves tracking changes in the amount and texture of vaginal discharge, which reflect rising levels of estrogen in your body. For the first few days after your period, there is often no discharge, but there will be a cloudy, tacky mucus as estrogen starts to rise. When the discharge starts to increase in volume and becomes clear and stringy, ovulation is near. A return to the tacky, cloudy mucus or no discharge means that ovulation has passed.