Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Some Thoughts on Hormonal Contraceptives

The issue of birth control came to the foreground for me when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Basically my ovaries were maturing oocytes but often were unable to release these eggs, resulting in cysts. In response to the first grouping of ova sacks not rupturing my body would mature subsequent groupings that were unsuccessful, utilizing more of the unregenerative number of immature gametes. Following this revelation my prior doctor gave me a limited time to have children and informed me that I would have to rely on fertility medications and possible artificial interventions like IVF and ICSI. That doctor's advisement was to begin taking an oral hormonal contraceptive for 3 months followed by a cycle of Clomid, an ovulation inducing medication.

That doctor's suggestion became an immediate subject with our Priest, who graciously made it known that even though it is an
abortifacient there would not be any moral dilemma with using the contraceptives as long as we were abstaining during the interval I was taking the medication. Abstinence would be a necessary precaution do to the contraceptive's abortive properties. If we were not to abstain while I was ingesting the medication and a child was conceived, the baby would not be received in to the naturally hospitable environment of the uterus, but rather into a hostile, chemically transformed habitat incapable of fostering implantation.

Our priest also warned us that he did not think abstaining for that duration would be conducive to the beginning of a healthy marriage. Even the abstinence required for accurate Natural Family Planning practices is only a few days a month. After the discussion with our Priest I switched from my pro-life doctor to a Catholic ob/gyn and midwife that were family centered, NFP oriented, and did not provide contraception. We felt very strongly that the professionals that would be aiding our family needed to be in complete conformity with church teachings.

For most gynecologists and obstetricians their first course of action for fertility concerns is to prescribe the regiment of hormonal birth control for 3 months to restart the reproductive system, essentially by stopping its function, and follow that time period with a prescription for an ovulation inducing medication like Clomid. This instant response is a result of connections with major pharmaceutical companies and not the need of the misinformed patients who are unaware of there options. Often times, on the occasion that the ovulation inducer does provoke ovulation, a large number of oocytes are expelled producing multiple babies, therefore greater health risks for all parties involved.

In addition to putting yourself and children in danger, there are all the side effects from the contraceptives themselves. These adverse effects, include increased heart disease, breast and ovarian cancer ovarian cysts, and uterine fibroids, are why we will not be using the recommended hormone regiment and now use a Catholic obstetrician/gynecologists and midwife.
On a side note, the use of hormonal contraceptives as an aid for PMS or to regulate cycles still hold the same long term side effects. And further women are given this endowment of pain each month as an opportunity for penance as with child birth. Clomid has side effects of its own, like hot flashes and ovarian hyperstimulation. Another draw back to using Clomid is that the drug inhibits the production of the viable cervical mucus crucial to the survival of sperm within the female reproductive tract. A possible solution to this side effect may be the use of Preseed, the only nonspermicidal personal moisturizer, with a make up similar to that of fertile cervical mucus. There are also many natural and licit measures for PMS, cycle regulation, and conception assistance through the help of the Creighton Method and Dr. Hildgers at the Pope Paul VI Institute.

I have been charting for fertility awareness for a few years now, and that was also the counsel given by my ob/gyn and midwife, to determine when ovulation occurs and at what frequency. It may take longer for us to conceive than those using artificial conception methods but most importantly we will not unknowingly be killing our children, moreover it will serve as a reminder to us that a child is not a right, but in fact gift that deserves to be conceived, as Pope John Paul II expressed, though a natural and marital act of love.

1 comment:

Sheila Kippley said...

For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, I would refer you to Marilyn Shannon's book, Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition, Appendix 1 and 2. This is one way women have found relief. Sheila