Thursday, May 21, 2009

Male and female contraceptives

Oh my. Sometimes I feel I read too much feministing. It is much too interesting though to spot bias in people who might even believe they are for equality. It is especially telling in posts about male contraceptions. You know when you read posts like that

And I understand that a lot of the male-bashing on this website is reaction against the patriarchy, but it delves our whole community into stereotype and is a primary reason why I visit this site less and less.

it will get extra-biased. Now before I come to one comment in particular, some thoughts about male contraceptives. For men there are just condoms (although feminist like to point out that men can refuse to have sex or have an operation as well, easy to say when you got dozens of easy to use effective contraceptions, which is just using female privilege here but back to the point). The shocking truth according to the following, condoms are really not more effective than withdrawal:

A new commentary, “Better Than Nothing or Savvy Risk-Reduction Practice? The Importance of Withdrawal,” by Rachel K. Jones et al., published in the June 2009 issue of Contraception, highlights that withdrawal is only slightly less effective than the male condom at preventing pregnancy.


The best available estimates indicate that with “perfect use,” 4% of couples relying on withdrawal will become pregnant within a year, compared with 2% of couples relying on the male condom. More realistic estimates suggest that with “typical use,” 18% of couples relying on withdrawal will become pregnant within a year, compared with 17% of those using the male condom. In other words, with either method, more than eight in 10 avoid pregnancy.

A majority of sexually experienced women rely on withdrawal at some point in their life—56%, according to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. (By comparison, 82% have ever used the pill, and 90% the male condom.) However, only 5% of women at risk of unintended pregnancy currently use the method (11% when those who use it in conjunction with another method are included). A smaller study, the Women’s Well-Being and Sexuality Study, found that 21% of younger and more educated women were using withdrawal.


“Hormonal and long-acting contraceptive methods, such as the IUD, are the most effective means of preventing pregnancy,” says lead author Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute.
from here

Keep that in mind. Now some feminist are so deep in vicitm mode, they actually mistake privilege with opression:

one thing i found particularly interesting about the article, it reported that promotion of male birth control was slow because men complained about the side effects - mood changes, fatigue, etc. this one looks promising because it has fewer side effects.

i don't know what the extent of the side effects were, but it's possible that they were taken more seriously because they were men. meanwhile, women using birth control have always been dealing with side effects. just another way society controls women's bodies.

The irony, reverse the situation as in there was a male pill but not a female equivalent. The above would be more close to the truth. Well as some of the posts talk about the serious side effects of the female pill I did some research and it seems to me we are trying to rehash myths again:

The Pill makes you fat
Not necessarily:
When the Pill was first introduced it contained much higher levels of hormones than what is available in the formulations today (100-175 micrograms of oestrogen compared to 20-50 micrograms today). While weight gain was associated with these older high dose pills, the Pill formulations used today do not always result in weight gain. It is estimated that in the first year of use:

* 20-25% of women gain more than 2kg
* 60% of women experience no change or have a weight change within 2kg (both up and down)
* 15-20% of women actually lose more than 2kg weight (6).

The progestogen in the Pill can increase appetite which may result in weight gain. Some women may also experience water retention but this can often be reduced by switching to a lower dose pill. Some brands of the Pill are said to be more effective at reducing the symptoms of water retention.

The Pill makes you infertile
This myth may stem from the fact that women using the Pill as a form of contraception may delay childbearing until their late 30s, a time when their natural fertility has declined. When these women go off the Pill and experience difficulty getting pregnant they think the Pill has made them infertile when, in fact, the problem is age-related. In addition, a woman (or her partner) may have always had a fertility problem but it was never realised before because they were not trying to get pregnant (8). It may take a few months for cycles to return to normal for women who were on the Pill.

The Pill causes cancer
Not necessarily:
The Pill actually provides a protective effect from cancer of the ovaries and cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). Women who take the combined oral contraceptive pill show an increased risk of cervical cancer but a direct causal link has not been established. It has been suggested that women who use the oral contraceptive pill may be less likely to use condoms with new sexual partners and, therefore, can be more at risk of being exposed to the genital human papilloma virus (which is considered to be the main contributing factor to cervical cancer). A 1996 review of data on the Pill's use and breast cancer found there was a small increased risk of breast cancer in Pill users, but this increased risk decreased after stopping use and after 10 years of discontinuation it had disappeared altogether (10).
from here

Nearly 17 million women in the US rely on birth control pills for reliable contraception and other medical benefits. But I wonder how many others would benefit from the Pill if it weren't for several myths in circulation.

# The most prevalent myth is that "Taking the pill makes you fat". Not! Ironically, most women who told me this were teenagers who stopped taking the pill because they heard that and then got pregnant. Pregnancy makes you fat. Eating too much and exercising too little makes you fat. Most low dose Pills have little effect on weight gain, water retention or appetite.

# Another myth: "If I take the pill my face will break out." Not true. Studies have even found that certain formulations of birth control pills can even decrease the severity of preexisting acne.

# The myth that bothers me the most is that the Pill " may increase breast cancer risk". This is not true. An analysis of 54 studies in 25 countries found no increased risk of breast cancer 10 or more years after women stopped taking the pill compared with women who never took it. This is true for women even with a family history of breast cancer.

# Another myth is that "If you've tried one Pill, you've tried them all". Not true. While many birth control pills are similar, there are many different formulations offering different doses, side effects and different benefits.

# Some women mistakenly think that once they stop taking the Pill , they'll have difficulty getting pregnant. This is not true. A woman who stops taking the pill will have no more trouble conceiving than a woman OF THE SAME AGE who did not take them.
from here

[...] A 2000 British review article concluded there is no evidence that modern low-dose pills cause weight gain, but that fear of weight gain contributed to poor compliance in taking the Pill and subsequent unintended pregnancy, especially among adolescents. [...]

Health Benefits

The use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) for five years or more decreases the risk of ovarian cancer in later life by 50%.

Combined oral contraceptive use reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 40% and the risk of endometrial cancer by 50% compared to never users. The risk reduction increases with duration of use, with an 80% reduction in risk for both ovarian and endometrial cancer with use for more than 10 years. The risk reduction for both ovarian and endometrial cancer persists for at least 20 years.

Taking oral contraceptives also reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, and improves conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, and acne.
from Wiki

Can you actually belief this? Having X contraceptives availiable that even help against others diseases, are safe and easy to use, as well as having options on emergency pills, abortion and adoption vs a plastic bag the other gender can pull over their genitals and yet there is still only nagging from the most priviledged group on this planet (when it comes to contraception). Unbelieveable.

Apart from all of this and all this female bickering about the male pill one blog really hit the nail on the head. Sorry ladies, the male birth control pill is not about you

Oh another tidbit I found was that one:

According to data published this year by the National Center for Health Statistics, American men reported that only 65 percent of the children they had fathered over a five-year period were anticipated. Twenty-five percent were “mistimed,” and 9 percent were described as unwanted.

An international survey that included 1,500 American men found last year that nearly half of them would be willing to use some new form of male contraception. (They split on whether they would prefer a daily pill or a longer-term implant.) Only 12 percent said they would never consider it.
from here

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