Saturday, June 07, 2008

Tilting at progesterone windmills

So many people are jumping on the "Protest the Pill" bandwagon that I have to speak out.

Years ago, it was taken as a given that the Pill's tertiary effect of thinning the endometrium would prevent implantation of a newly-concieved embryo in cases of breakthrough ovulation. But this tertiary effect only happens in cycles in which the Pill successfully prevents ovulation. The doses in modern birth-control pills are so low that the woman's ovary easily overcomes the effects if there is breakthrough ovulation, especially if there is a conception. How else could there be such a high failure rate?

Again, what I've seen and read most recently is that in cases when there is break-through ovulation, the corpus leuteum in the ovary produces enough hormones to offset the impact of the Pill on the uterus. In other words, the Pill almost certainly does not cause early abortions. Which is GOOD news.

"The proponents of the “hostile endometrium theory” argue that OCs are abortifacient based upon the third mechanism of action. The medical literature clearly supports the claim that the uterus becomes thinner and less glandular as a result of the OCs, however, the medical literature comes to this conclusion from non-ovulatory pill cycles. It is assumed that this finding in non-ovulatory pill cycles would prevent implantation of the embryo conceived in an ovulatory pill cycle, but this presumption is false. If a woman on OCs ovulates and conceives, everything changes: through the HCG’s affect on the corpus luteum, and the corpus luteum’s release of high levels of estrogen and progesterone, the uterus is able to nourish its new guest very well."

I'm no great fan of birth control pills. The whole idea is to treat a woman's normally-functioning body as if it's diseased, which I find misogynist and distasteful. And the contraceptive mindset that sex and reproduction are totally unrelated is emotionally, personally, and societally damaging. But it's not something that is causing innocent deaths, unless you count the long-term increase in cervical cancer and other health risks inherent in promiscuous sexual behavior.

I'd rather see the prolife movement go after the deliberate routine destruction of deliberately concieved embryos in IVF clinics than go tilting at progesterone windmills trying to rescue inadvertently created embryos who most likely are in no danger unless the mother chooses to seek an abortion.

Yes, it was the Pill-pushers' own poor research that put out that the Pill was abortifacient rather than merely contraceptive. But they were wrong. We were mistaken when we believed them. Now let's move on.

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