White Coat Underground

The Pill and altmed idiocy

We’re now fifty years into the history of oral contraceptive pills, and we’ve learned an enormous amount. We’ve learned about various therapeutic uses of the Pill and unanticipated risks. We’ve learned to adjust the amount of medication to a lower effective dose. We’ve given women the opportunity to very effectively control their own fertility in a safe, private, and effective manner. But we haven’t ended the controversy.

Leaving aside idiotic moralist rantings about the Pill, the alternative medicine movement has treated it harshly. The decision to use or avoid any intervention involves a balance of risks and benefits. Science helps quantify many of the risks and benefits, but a certain component will always be subjective. I can’t demand that a patient choose to take a certain dose of morphine for cancer pain because the patient has to decide what level of pain and side effects are acceptable. Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) have few but real risks: they can increase the risks of significant blood clots, especially in smokers and women over 35. At the same time, it decreases the risk of certain cancers.

What OCPs do is give women the ability to control whether or not heterosexual intercourse is likely to lead to pregnancy, without having to ask their partner “permission”. Another blogger has brought up one of the gaps in recent stories about the Pill—the fact that contraception has a history that extends much further back than fifty years, and is not just about technology. The history of contraception is also the history of misogyny, control, and womens’ health (but I’ll have to pick up a copy of the book she referred to because my ignorance of the topic is vast).

The alternative medicine movement has a punitive character to its approach. In addition to making up scientifically impossible interventions (such as homeopathy), they disregard inconvenient facts. Yes, many type II diabetics would benefit from changes in diet and exercise habits, but does their failure to make these changes mean we shouldn’t treat them with the best available medical therapy. But reading the altmed literature, you’d think that there is no appropriate time to use science-based medical therapy for anything.

When hunting the altmed world for bone-crushing stupidity, it’s always good to stop at Joe Mercola’s site. His latest screed about the Pill is so blindingly idiotic my eyes are still burning. In his battle against this particular pharmaceutical that he cannot profit from, Mercola exaggerates the known risks of OCPs while explicitly denying the real benefits. In addition to falsely stating the level of risk of the Pill, Mercola (intentionally or otherwise) misses the whole point of OCPs and of medicine in general. The first quote about the Pill that Mercola seems to love is:

It was the first medicine ever designed to be taken regularly by people who were not sick.

There is nothing about this statement that isn’t wrong. Pharmaceuticals, both scientifically proven and otherwise, have been used for millennia for people who are sick, well, and anything in between. People consume kilo after kilo of vitamin supplements daily (many advocated by Mercola) despite the absence of illness and lack of benefit. And what is sick? People take tylenol for headaches. When you have a headache, are you “sick”?

Medications that alter physiology can be used to achieve many different ends, and it is the desirability of these ends and the risks and benefits of achieving them which makes a drug effective or ineffective. Whether it’s taken regularly, and whether or not you’re “sick” is a foolish distractor.

The second idiotic quote contains one phrase which isn’t wrong.:

In my opinion this is a tragedy, as the Pills’ major benefit – convenience — is largely outweighed by serious health risks.

If you said that the correct part was “in my opinion” you got it right. It is not up to Mercola to decide what the Pill’s major benefit is or to decide if the risks outweigh these benefits. I’m pretty certain that Mercola has not had to worry about controlling his fertility. If he wants, he can spread his little duckies all over the globe and never have to worry about getting pregnant. I’m sure the Pill seems convenient to him, but for a woman interested in controlling her own fertility, convenience might be only one factor she considers. And if convenience is important to her, and the minimal risks don’t concern her, then it isn’t up to Mercola or anyone else to tell her what is acceptable.

The one thing Mercola does right is recommend the use of latex condoms, although he doesn’t really stress the other reason for their importance—the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

Folks like Mercola like to decry the paternalistic attitudes of those of us who practice science-based medicine, but statements like this tell the real story:

Because the risks are so high, and other safer options exist, nearly all patients who visit my Natural Health Center are asked to stop hormonal contraceptives like birth control pills as soon as possible.

In his own words, Mercola says that his advice is based on his own biases, and not on the science and the needs and desires of his patients. This is paternalistic, condescending, and wrong.

Comments

  1. #1 madder
    May 17, 2010

    On the other hand, perhaps some of his readers will actually think for a moment: each of them probably knows several women who use OCPs without problems and with substantial improvement in life (e.g. mitigated bleeding, reduced or absent cramping, etc).

    Any of those readers who think (well, it’s possible, anyway) will realize that Mercola’s advice isn’t worth much.

  2. #2 PalMD
    May 17, 2010

    Well, maybe the glass is half-full, but from my perspective, it’s half-full of feces. I do love an optimist though.

  3. #3 anna
    May 17, 2010

    There’s another good book about the history of contraception, including the mind-bending details of the Dalkon Shield fiasco: “Devices and Desires”, By Andrea Tone.

  4. #4 PalMD
    May 17, 2010

    I’m not sure what that comment meant, but i’ll take it as positive feedback.

    Thanks, come again!

  5. #5 maxh
    May 17, 2010

    Unless you are a woman, who has to experience monthly periods then you can STFU about the pill. Yes, it is about convienience and avoiding pregnancy but it is all a very effective treatment for heavy bleeding and severe peiod pain. And until you’ve experienced heavy bleeding for days on end or cramps so painful you faint at work despite taking painkillers then you have NO SAY over whether or not the pill is right for a woman.

  6. #6 Bob
    May 17, 2010

    The best thing about birth control pill are the foil packages the pills come in – they add extra texture to my tinfoil hat!

    You should be nicer to Joe Mercola – he’s still mad he lost the Shorty Award to A GIRL!

  7. #7 justme
    May 17, 2010

    Mercola got one other thing right in the second statement you quoted:
    Damn right it’s convenient not to be pregnant all the time! Damn right it’s convenient to not end up with more children than my husband and I want or can afford to provide for! Damn right it’s convenient I don’t have to worry about a high-risk delivery since my only child was born via emergency C-section! Best of all, damn right it’s convenient not to have hideous cramping and bloating every cycle to the point I am nonfunctional!

    Any doctor (real or posing) who suggested I go off oral contraception would be treated to VERY unladylike language.

  8. #8 Susan Ferguson
    May 17, 2010

    The pill saved my life, quite literally. I was suffering from heavy periods throughout my 30’s that got increasingly worse as I got older, to the point where 2 to 3 days a month I was so sick I was vomiting and doubled over with cramps. I was losing so much blood that I had completely sapped my energy levels, because I couldn’t be as active as I was, I started gaining weight, I went from 110 pounds to 160 within a year. I was recommended to a specialist who suggested I get a hysterectomy, I know a few women who went this route, including my sister, but it wasn’t for me. After some trial and error with different medications (Including an IUD that cost me almost 400 dollars and was so horrible I had it removed after 3 months) I settled on the “mini pill”. After 6 months, my periods stabilized and I haven’t had a cramp since. 2 years later I lost all the weight I gained and my energy levels are back up. I had never gone on the pill before because I had heard all the hype about it affecting hormones etc.. When I turned 40, I figured my hormones were already buggered anyway, so what have I got to lose? The benefits far, far, far outweighed the risks for me. I did do some research on “alternative” therapies but quite frankly they seemed kind of bogus to me. Any “man” who had never suffered through period cramps and then tries to tell me that the pill is evil can bite my creamy white ass as far as I concerned.

  9. #9 kb
    May 17, 2010

    The original birth control pills were derived from yams in Mexico. Doesn’t that make them perfectly safe?

    And I don’t know about PalMD’s opinion on HRT, but Mercola’s all for it:
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/04/the-estrogen-dilemma.aspx

    Oooh! I know! Let’s make women totally reliant on men’s ability to not be too inconvenienced by barrier methods, and then give them the very hormones proven to do more harm. Maybe the extra years spent childbearing will negate the increased risks for breast cancer caused by the HRT.

  10. #10 khan
    May 17, 2010

    I loved BCP.

    Are they still denying them to women over 30?

  11. #11 Rogue Epidemiologist
    May 17, 2010

    Count me in with the OCP fanclub!

    Hormonal birth control may have been the first medicine given to folks who weren’t sick (although I’m a bit doubtful of this claim — gonna review the lit for counterexamples), but I was put on the stuff because I was sick.

    I was bleeding to the point of anemia, so I was Rx’d birth control while I was a (completely celibate) teenager. The difference was like night and day!!! Shorter, predictable periods and less acne! The stuff was a miracle to me.

    I won’t go so far as to tell a man he can’t comment on hormonal birth control, but I will gladly extol the benefits I have experienced while using it. w00t!

  12. #12 Rogue Epidemiologist
    May 17, 2010

    @#13 khan

    No, you can get The Pill if you are 30+, but you will be ocunseled a little more strongly about contraindications and risks.

  13. #13 PalMD
    May 17, 2010

    Talk about drinking the Kool Aid (yes, I know…”Flav-R-Aid”)

  14. You said it, PAL:

    reading the altmed literature, you’d think that there is no appropriate time to use science-based medical therapy for anything.

    Moe Jercola also recommends that women “embrace natural family planning”. It reminds me of that old joke

    Q: What do you call people who use the rhythm method of birth control?
    A: Parents!

    I am just old enough to have become sexually mature before (a) the pill (b)Roe v. Wade. As Justme and maxh have said, women use OCPs for reasons other than (or in addition to) contraception.

    Personally, the early 1970s versions of OCPs solved some menstrual issues but made some other health issues worse. Eventually I found that I tolerated IUDs quite well. The Dalkon Shield may have gotten a bum rap, as later studies showed that the increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease may have had less to do with an IUD than with multiple sexual partners. However, it may be true that the Dalkon shield was less effective in preventing pregnancy than advertised.

    Dr. Jonathan P., I am sorry for your loss. But equating the risk from HRT with the risk from OCP (especially vs. pregnancy) is, well, baseless.

    And as Pal wrote:

    Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) have few but real risks: they can increase the risks of significant blood clots, especially in smokers and women over 35. At the same time, it decreases the risk of certain cancers.

    it is the desirability of these ends and the risks and benefits of achieving them which makes a drug effective or ineffective.

    Everything has risks — even staying in bed.

  15. #15 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    May 17, 2010

    I certainly hope Joe Mercola keeps tight control over his fertility. One of him is too many.

    Hey Gizmo! What herbs should a woman take to not get pregnant? What? There’s no safe and effective herbal equivalent of OCP? Color me shocked.

    Do you know the difference between natural and artificial almond flavor? Right, one has trace amounts of cyanide in it. Surprise, it’s the “natural” flavoring. Wheee! It’s all natural, it must be good. Foxglove salad for everyone!

  16. #16 kb
    May 17, 2010

    “chose convenience for cancers down the road”

    HELL YES I WILL CHOOSE CONVENIENCE FOR CANCER. I recoil at babies. Watching “I didn’t know I was pregnant” gives me nightmares. Neither me nor my partner is at a point in our careers where it would be anything but a derailment. It would certainly strain our relationship. I would rather be dead at 50 than miserable, unfulfilled, divorced, and poor, watching my daughters’ aspirations be destroyed in the same way mine were, at 60.

  17. #17 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    May 17, 2010

    Hey Gizmo, if I stand on a street corner with a sign that says “It’s going to rain today.” I’d be right fairly often. If Joe Mercola says all pharmaceuticals are bad, then he’ll be right every once in a while. Even a broken (analog) clock is right twice a day. You are spouting meaningless nonsense. If you forget all the times he’s been wrong, it’s called confirmation bias.

    What did Mercola say about Swine Flu?

  18. #18 Historiann
    May 17, 2010

    Hi PalMD–thanks for the link and for stopping over at my place. I would like to second anna’s recommendation of Andrea Tone’s Devices and Deisres (2001) for anyone interested in the history of contraception in America.

  19. #19 Otto
    May 17, 2010

    “Talk about drinking the Kool Aid (yes, I know…’Flav-R-Aid’)”

    Actually, both Flavor Aid and Kool-Aid are visible in the foot locker shown early on in “The Life and Death of Peoples Temple” when Jim Jones is showing off the food stores. I don’t think the Jonestown Project at SDSU has advanced an opinion whether Kool-Aid is off the hook in the ultimate mayhem.

  20. #20 PalMD
    May 17, 2010

    OK, time out. Certain types of sockpuppetry are way too stupid to let pass.

    “Juliet” is “Health Gizmo” is “Dr Jonathan P” for those who are following from the sidelines.

  21. #21 kb
    May 17, 2010

    Juliet:

    A few generations ago, people did not live as long.

  22. #22 Liz D
    May 17, 2010

    PalMD:

    A triple-whammy sock-puppet?

    What did you do to get so lucky!

  23. #23 Otto
    May 17, 2010

    “Health Gizmo” has also pretended, for unfathomable reasons, to be Mercola in the past: http://tinyurl.com/yaft6yz

  24. #24 Nathan Myers
    May 17, 2010

    Pal: You read a very different altmed literature than I do. This is literally correct: I identify wackos quickly and avoid them, but you seek them out. That would be fine if your purpose is to make fun of wackos, but then you generalize from the worst to the whole.

    It is not true that the “alternative medicine movement has a punitive character to its approach“. Rather, certain wackos you locate have. Similarly, in “reading the altmed literature, you’d think that there is no appropriate time to use science-based medical therapy for anything“, that would be the case if you preferentially read wackos. Since I avoid wackos, I never get that at all.

    Sane people who have problems for which their physicians can offer nothing satisfactory do not seek out wackos, they seek sensible solutions to try. That is not to say there are not people who will prefer wackos, but those people will always find them, whatever you say or do.

    Does the validity of your judgments really need to depend on false generalizations?

  25. #25 PalMD
    May 17, 2010

    Inappropriate generalizations are always a danger. However, I’ve been doing this for a very, very long time, and I think I’ve got this down.

  26. #26 G
    May 17, 2010

    Well, hey. HRT is *very* natural. Premarin is derived from mare urine. Obviously the natural source of the drug makes it safe.

    …do the “natural” crowd have any idea how many medications are adapted from, inspired by, or even still ARE made from “natural” sources of one kind or another?

    As for other types of hormone meds, I wouldn’t be walking most days without my contraception meds. Any random stranger who thinks it’s their business what to tell me is right for me can go jump off a cliff. I can do my own reading, thankyouverymuch, and I can consult my own doctors. And I can very easily compare the pros and cons myself.

    Seems like every woman I know has menstrual issues. Hormonal meds of one kind or another have been a huge help to all of us, I think, and not just for that “convenience” of which the ignorant man speaks.

  27. #27 PalMD
    May 17, 2010

    If you’re concerned I’d “out” you, you prob shouldn’t have commented, but I don’t generally do that. Because of the outrageous and disingenuous sockpuppetry, and the hilariosity, I posted some limited info.

    It may or may not have been a bad idea on my part.

  28. #28 critter
    May 17, 2010

    If the establishment hadn’t refused me BCP at 30 I might not have needed an abortion at age 41.

    I’d rather died at a young age than than be forced to give birth.

  29. #29 CanadianChick
    May 17, 2010

    By definition, aren’t vitamins drugs? I mean, theyvare chemical substances intended to cure, mitigate or prevent disease, right?

    A Tylenol taken occasionally for headache is far less dangerous to the body than the frequntly “prescribed” dosages of vitamins – a single vitamin c tablet of 1000mg per day (a dosage frequently touted as being ideal) can lead to kidney damage in a surprisingly short time. Take the amounts recommended by the alt-health quacks and I pity your poor renal system…

    I for one really miss OCP. I was on it fir 17 years and not only did I not get pregnant (which would be bad for my health), I had the lightest most easy to deal with periods ever. No PMS, no cramps, no pain or ebarrassment. After an incident involving gazillions of tiny pulmonary emboli, they took me off OCP and I’ve been miserable for several days each month, right down to having to miss work, something that had never happened due to my period before.

    Now I’m facing the knowledge that at 41, menopause is looming and I won’t gave the option even, of a short course of HRT, something that brought a lot of women a lot of relief.

  30. #30 Donna B.
    May 17, 2010

    No mention of the use of BCP by women who want to get pregnant but have trouble conceiving? I could be wrong, but I think that 6 months on the pill is one of the first things tried by some couples having trouble conceiving.

    The pill made me sick and caused heavier than normal (for me) periods. But I’m old and that was in the early 70s. There are better formulations now. There are still women who don’t do well on the pill, but frankly I think they are outnumbered by those who have no problems or function better while taking it.

    Overall the pill has been a great thing for women. And men.

  31. #31 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    May 17, 2010

    I guess the sockpuppet, in addition to being childlishly insulting, can only speak and not listen since it has not responded to any of my queries or barbs. Perhaps it will at least insult me.

    I can only guess that the sockpuppet’s obsession with size of body parts is a matter of projection or perhaps of insufficient projection.

  32. #32 24fps
    May 18, 2010

    Oral contraceptives didn’t work well for me – well, they did the job vis preventing pregnancy, but I had some problems with depression and mood swings while on them. That was more than a decade ago, though, so I hope they’ve improved them, and I did like the convenience of them, but the uncontrollable weeping scared me to death – I’d never experienced anything like it.

    I know a lot of other women they have been total lifesavers for, though. Ultimately, you assess the pros and cons and make a decision. Nothing is without risk.

  33. #33 Molly, NYC
    May 18, 2010

    Actually, “Juliet’s” sock-puppetry was apparent when she called American women “fat and lazy.” A few American men hate American women that much (along with every other woman on the planet), but American women with that much blanket contempt for their own sex tend to live in state-run institutions.

  34. I can only speak for myself, but going on the Shot (Depo Provera) has been an absolute life saver. I’m a depressive, prone to mood swings, and highly sensitive to hormonal changes — my periods were, in short, HELL. Not only on me, but on everyone around me.

    Now, on the Depo, my moods are stable, and the bonus is: no bleeding and no babies! I love it!

  35. #35 Susan Ferguson
    May 18, 2010

    “I am a woman and have had terrible cramps and even have a fibroid tumor.

    I know it’s easy for women to take diet pills or the pill for that matter instead of CHANGING THEIR DIET!”

    Hey Juliet, I run, hike, and bike ride. I eat very healthy, lots of organic vegetables and before my bleeding problems got so serious that I couldn’t live like a normal person, I was healthy and slim. My problems had nothing to do with my lifestyle, just my screwed up biology. I went on the pill and got healthy and slim again. I can’t say birth control pills are for everyone we’re all different, but they sure worked for me.

  36. #36 Dianne
    May 18, 2010

    HELL YES I WILL CHOOSE CONVENIENCE FOR CANCER.

    Aren’t you lucky then that you don’t have to? OCP are associated with a minor increase in breast cancer but they are also associated with a larger decrease in ovarian cancer. In fact, they’re sometimes used for preventing ovarian cancer in high risk women. And between breast and ovarian cancer, breast has a much better long term survival.

  37. #37 kb
    May 18, 2010

    Dianne:

    Hooray!

  38. #38 rob
    May 18, 2010

    i have never taken the pill, or any oral contraceptive for that matter, and i have never gotten pregnant. what’s the big deal. i don’t know why women get so uppity about the pil and sexual freedom and reproductive rights and stuff.

    oh wait. i’m a man.

    nevermind.

    p.s. does anyone know why we keep pouring money into canker research?

  39. #39 OleanderTea
    May 18, 2010

    Mercola gets to make a judgement about the Pill being “healthy” or not when he grows a uterus and gets to decide if he’ll risk having a child every single time he has intercourse.

    Until then, he needs to STFU.

  40. #40 maxh
    May 18, 2010

    Juliet/HealthGizmo/Whoever

    Yeah our ancestors dealt with periods by not having them. By my age (26) a woman living 200 years ago will have probably had a few children so with that and the breast feeding her periods (and therefore cramps and pain) would have stopped. Then menopause and then death.

    Well shoot me if I don’t fancy children, and taking handfuls of painkillers once a month was giving me ulcers, so yeah, the pill is an ideal solution. Sure it doesn’t work for anyone but it does for many, many women. And to scare people out of taking the pill is irresponsible and incredibly condescending. I know the risks, who the hell are you to preach to me about my own bodily autonomy?!

  41. #41 stripey_cat
    May 18, 2010

    As a fit, athletic, healthy-eating teenager, I had the period-pain so bad I fainted, the incapacitating mood-swings, the blood-loss anaemia symtoms, all the stuff other people have mentioned – I used to lose up to a week a month to period-related ill-health. The pill offers a lot more than just “convenience”: effective contraception (still the best there is) *and* (not for everyone) reduction in serious symptoms? Sign me up, even at a tiny increase in cancer risk and the blood-clots thing. By the way, has anyone done a meaningful study of the risks of multiple pregnancies for general health outcomes?

  42. #42 Caro
    May 18, 2010

    Heh, fibroids caused by bad diet? Now I’ve heard that one too :P

    Pal, thanks for this post. Makes me happy that someone (someone not female, even!) recognises our right to reproductive freedom. Besides, you point out the faults of Mercola so eloquently, and that does make me happy :)

    While I’m here I’ll add myself to the list of women who have been helped a lot by the Pill. It wasn’t about reproduction control in the first place, though that is very important to me now. No pregnancies for me, plx! The pill’s stopped me bleeding like a stuck pig and never knowing when it would happen. Waking up in a small pool of blood is not very fun at all, though a part of me would like this “Dr.” Mercola to try it once to see how it is. It’s probably also saved me from either mild opioid dependence or NSAID-induced stomach ulcers – or both, because those cramps were hellish. Now they’re only um, well, heckish (:P) and I bleed a lot less. Yay hormonal contraceptives :D

  43. #43 Swampy
    May 18, 2010

    I find it interesting that a lot of the commenters in support of the pill are quick to point out that they used it for reasons other than contraception, as if that were a bad thing, as if they should feel the need to justify their motives!

    I proudly admit to taking the pill from 18-23, with worse acne, mood swings, reduced libido, and some cardiovascular risk (high blood pressure). At the time, all those things were far less risky to my well being than having an unplanned pregnancy.

  44. #44 madder
    May 18, 2010

    @Swampy:

    I don’t think the others here are so much justifying their motives as pointing out that Mercola’s basic premise is incorrect… again. OCPs are a convenient form of contraception, but that is far from their only use. Any risk/benefit analysis that leaves out benefits is pointless serves only to advance prior ideology, which makes it the opposite of science.

  45. #45 malia
    May 18, 2010

    I second Rogue Epidemiologist’s (14) experience completely – the Pill *IS* used when people are sick. I had 21 day long periods, severe anemia that could not be mitigated by iron pills (which had their own unpleasant side effects), and cramps that would pull me out of school for 2 days a month. The risk/benefit analysis of going on the pill as another (also celibate) 15 year old was a no brainer for my parents and me.

  46. #46 khan
    May 18, 2010

    I used BCP for being able to have sex without getting knocked-up. The lighter periods with less cramps was a welcome side effect.

  47. In my anecdotal experience, the types of women who might actually follow Mercola’s advice have already placed oral contraceptives in their personal litanies of “evil products of Big Pharma.” What really bothers me about this is the insidious nature of Mercola’s misogyny.

    Women are fully capable of making their own informed reproductive decisions in consultation with their doctors. We are actually smart enough to weigh the risk/benefit of any given method of contraception. I propose that we collectively boycott sexual relationships with all men who think they have a right to undermine our reproductive health.

  48. #48 Chris
    May 19, 2010

    Anthropologist Underground:

    I propose that we collectively boycott sexual relationships with all men who think they have a right to undermine our reproductive health.

    After our third child I gave hubby two choices in birth control methods:

    1) Vasectomy for him
    2) Abstinence

    He chose the first method.

    My problems with BCP were that they were too effective. Unlike many of the women above I only had periods every six to twelve weeks or so while on the pill. The BCP stretched that out to between eight to twelve weeks, and made me totally uninterested in sex. Which caused a bit of stress in the first four to five years of marriage.

    I am probably one of the very few women you would meet where the diaphragm was preferred over the pill. Sigh.

    I had my last child when I was 36 years old, and went into menopause about five years later. I actually stopped having regular periods just after turning forty. I did have one when I was in my mid-forties, which freaked me out (vaginal bleeding! after multiple years!)… so I went to my doctor who told my periods were now really very very long (“period” is defined in this context as length of time between menstruation).

    I’ve had occasional hot flashes, but not so much that has been too annoying. Other than the brief time on BCP, I have not had any hormonal therapy.

    Though, from my history, it looks like I didn’t have that many hormones to replace. I do have substantial cleavage, absolutely no facial hair, a history of fairly long times between menstrual periods and three fairly easily conceived children (and just so you can hate me as much as my sister who went through over thirty hours of labor does… the birth labors were no more that six hours long). I am just one of the many multitudes of variations in the human population.

    Ignoring the variations in a population (along with deciding what is best for those of us who have two X-chromosomes) is another reason that Mercola is an idiot and should be ignored.

    Aside: How I remember what the letter of the sex-chromosome is by thinking about my common reaction to the actions of my sons, my hubby and many of those like Mercola… the reaction is “Why?”. Which sounds such like “Y.”

    “Why” is what I use when I am cleaning the wall behind the toilet of the boys’ bathroom (the one daughter refuses to use!)… or when one decided to park himself outside that same bathroom when it was flooding to keep his cat out of it (instead of calling me, the plumber mom!). When one told me he was going to the prom in less than ten days, I replied we needed to order his tux the next day he asked “Why?” (that prom Saturday, while picking up the tux on day of the prom with all the other young men in his high school class, several who I had met in preschool… a kid from another high school walked in wanted to rent a tux for his prom the next day!). “Why” is also the internal response I have when hubby comes home from Costco with a large quantity of fruit or fish I need to process before putting it in the freezer (what is worse is that he hates salmon, but for multiple years he would bring home a large fresh salmon fillet in the spring!).

    Next Saturday I will be celebrating thirty years of marriage.

    I know lots about “why’s.” “Juliet”, “Health Gizmo”, and “Dr Jonathan P” produced enough “why’s” to believe that he/she (like Mercola) have both an X and Y chromosome.

    (Sorry PalMD, you are wonderful, but I am sure Mrs. L will agree with me in some respects. She must have some “why’s” about you! :-) )

  49. #49 Calli Arcale
    May 19, 2010

    I’ve always had pretty normal periods; very regular, mild to moderate cramping that usually doesn’t require analgesics; mild moodiness. But I went on the Pill anyway, because I only want two children, but want to be able to discontinue it in case I change my mind. My husband and I are much happier with it than with condoms, and we appreciate the fact that it is rapidly reversible, unlike a surgical sterilization.

    From Mercola’s perspective, I suppose avoiding extra pregnancies is a “convenience”, but only if one has never been pregnant nor raised a child can they be so flippant about it. It is nothing to take lightly, and no one should be forced into it. Controlling our own fertility has allowed us to actually have our own lives, because we do not need to plan for the likelihood of becoming a mother at any time. (Yes, a woman can avoid pregnancy by avoiding sex. However, this is less practical than it seems, especially if she has any interest whatsoever in marriage.)

    BTW, I’m 34, still on the Pill, and have experienced no adverse effects. I am lucky to have very good blood pressure, and I do not smoke, so I am in a very low-risk category. I take the Pill exclusively to prevent pregnancy. It is not the only method I could have used, but it is actually cost-effective and has the bonus of making my periods even more regular. It does not appear to have had any affect on my moods and attention, which is somewhat unfortunate as my doctor was hoping it would. (I have been diagnosed with chronic depression and ADD.) But as my moods and attention are manageable at present, that doesn’t trouble me.

  50. #50 PalMD
    May 19, 2010

    Why? Do you have citations to back up your assertions, juliet?

  51. #51 Rogue Epidemiologist
    May 19, 2010

    sockpuppet sayeth:

    You think the women of China all take the pill? (Granted they can only have one kid over there) But for centuries they stayed thin and fit and have such low cancer rates because they eat better than the fat lazy American women who’d rather take pills, eat like crap and look half as healthy as their mother when she was their age.

    Did you have to bring the Chinese into this, jackass? I’m ethnic Chinese. I’m captain of a soccer team. I take the Pill. I’m healthy, pretty, and controlling my uterus as I see fit.

    As for not having cancer in China, I don’t know where you got such a preposterous idea. The Chinese died of cancer often, that is when they weren’t dying of infectious diseases. The Chinese have some of the highest rates of stomach, esophageal, liver and cervical cancers in the world. Back in the day, this was hard to notice against the backdrop of death by tb or cholera.

    … and PAL, all this talk of long term hormone dosing, and no one has brought up bio-identical hormone replacemnnt woo???

  52. #52 katydid13
    May 19, 2010

    I’m 35 and have had no problems getting a prescription for OCPs, although I did recently switch to NuvaRing. I did get a lecture on not starting to smoke, which I thought was kind of funny since I’ve never been a smoker. Also, I was a teenager in KY in when you could still smoke at school. If I didn’t start then, why would I start now?

  53. #53 Nick
    May 20, 2010

    Sure sounds like Health Gizmo is a shrill for big condom! You believe the condom companies or porn starts brainwashed by them? Yeah right. Using condoms for years is going to make your ass much more apt to not to go to heaven.

  54. #54 Calli Arcale
    May 20, 2010

    Low risk my ass! You believe the drug companies or doctors brainwashed by them? Yeah right. Taking synthetic hormones for years is going to make your ass much more apt to get cancer.

    Try the natural sponge if you don’t like condoms. I’m all for less kids with the rest of you but for the love of God don’t take synthetic drugs when there are other ways! (Besides condoms)

    I believe *science*, not drug companies. I’ll listen to my doctor’s advice, but ultimately it’s the science I look at. And for oral birth control, we have a lot of science on what things affect the risk factors.

    I prefer condoms to the sponge, and in fact used them the entire time I was breastfeeding. (I am *not* one of those women who stops menstruating while nursing, so I was not about to test and see if I wasn’t ovulating.) If I’m going to use a barrier method, I’ll use one that makes itself useful and contains the mess afterwards. Also, condoms are usually lubricated, and as a woman, I do appreciate that.

    (Also, condoms are the absolute best protection against STDs, so I strongly recommend them. I used condoms exclusively for birth control from August 2003)

    Synthetic hormones behave in much the same way as natural ones — that is, they all have same effects relative to cancer. Yes, that’s right — even the hormones produced by my own body influence my cancer risk. (This is why women’s cancer risk varies depending on her childbearing status, age of menarche, and age of menopause.) There is no state of zero risk on God’s green earth; the best one can do is manage risk.

    BTW: natural sponge? Why not an artificial one? I don’t think a delicate and possibly endangered marine invertebrate needs to give its life just so I can have sex without getting pregnant.

  55. #55 PalMD
    May 20, 2010

    Real Woman/Juliet/Health Gizmo/Dr Jonathan P/Joan: If you’re going to continue with sock puppetry, you’re going to have to learn to vary your style, and more important, learn to spoof IP’s. It’s not that hard. But given how clearly idiotic you are, maybe you’re not up to it.

  56. #56 Chris
    May 21, 2010

    Only an idiot would not be able to find PalMd’s identity, especially since he gives a link to the other blog where he posts the same articles.

    You must all be the same sockpuppet as before. You really don’t care about women’s health, do you? You kind of missed the comments from women where the pill actually helped? It is all about your own agenda (“natural” sponge? Really? Do you actually dive for it yourself?).

  57. #57 PalMD
    May 21, 2010

    If someone wants to engage in that much abusive sockpuppetry, especially humorless abusive sockpuppetry, they can do it elsewhere. All comments from your IP are now consigned to the spam bin.

  58. #58 BeccaTheCyborg
    May 21, 2010

    Woe betide anyone who tries to take away my birth control pills. My tubes are tied (26, nulliparous, lucky), but without the pill, I bleed nearly to the point of hemorrhage without stopping. And I’m then in constant severe pain. So anyone who opposes my managing that can kindly go perform something anatomically impossible.

  59. #59 Dr.Jimena Arnold MD
    May 27, 2010

    As an MD I do want to point out there are other alternatives for women suffering from terrible cramps or excess bleeding. There are several MD’s like myself who work with patients at finding alternatives to taking drugs for the rest of their lives (or until menopause) I just want to let you know there are other doctors who do know of successful alternatives that have no increased risks of cancer (or other associated risks)

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