Many women around the world still do not have the resources available to them to limit the number of children they give birth to. In some parts of Africa only about 10% of women are using any form of contraception. Around the world roughly 80 million women have unwanted pregnancies – and end up having unsafe abortions. A large number of these women are not getting access to family planning because of religious and political barriers.
Even in the United States, where teen pregnancies have been declining – the current administration still insists on promoting abstinence as the only way to teach young people to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This is despite a recent published report in the American Journal of Public Health showing that decline is due to increased use of contraceptives, not abstinence.
The data used was derived from interviews with over 2000 women in both 1995 and 2002. It was discovered that in women between 15 and 19 years old pregnancies went down by 34% and that this was primarily due to increased use of contraception such as birth control pills and condoms.
In a study in Obstetrics & Gynecology it was found that many young women – about half! – have never heard of IUD’s. Only 2.1% of women in the US use IUD’s, although they are more popular in other countries. Apparently many young women do not realize that they are safe now or how effective they are. It doesn’t surprise me that many women have not heard of them. And I would guess the problems with some of them in the past still influences some women, if even indirectly. Unless things have changed since I last read about IUD’s, I believe a doctor still has to insert and remove them. I would imagine that would keep many women from wanting to use them, it certainly is a factor for me.
Speaking of IUD’s – use of IUD’s and birth control pills may give some long term protection from endometrial cancer according to a report in the International Journal of Cancer. This study examined over 2000 Chinese women in the Shanghai area. It found that long term use of birth control pills reduced the risk of the cancer by as much as 50%. And IUD’s reduced the risk by 47%. It is not known what may be causing this effect but the progestin in birth control pills may decrease the overgrowth of cells in the endometrium. And IUD’s may help to eliminate abnormal and precancerous endometrial cells and reduce the number of estrogen receptors.
And additional studies on birth control pills indicates that women who have access to a larger supply of pills at a time, rather that just one month at a time are more likely to use them properly. No surprise here – sometimes you just can’t make it to the pharmacy in time. I wonder if this will prompt insurance companies to let us refill our medications in more reasonable time frames? Somehow I doubt it, insurance companies don’t exactly have our needs as a high priority. This study was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology by Dr. Diana Greene Foster and others at the University of California, San Francisco.
And the news I like to hear: according to a study in Contraception continuous use of ‘an oral contraceptive combination of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol (LNG/EE) can safely eliminate menstruation in most women’. I doubt doctors will suddenly be telling us it is ok to stop having periods, but it is a step in the right direction. I have always been interested in this research, it is good to hear of more progress.
Well, that’s all for now – running out of time again!
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