Friday, May 05, 2006

Hey baby, let's go to Vegas! The odds of becoming *pregnant* while on *Birth* Control

After exhaustive research on the subject I found a government website that compiled all forms of birth control used within the U.S. and how they work. I have deleted information about STDs, AIDs, increase opportunity for various cancers, side effects, etc. as I am focusing primarily on the effects of the methodology of birth control; however I have added nothing to the text except what is written in blue font. I have inserted italics and bold type to emphasis my point.

From women's health .gov :"Bear in mind that NO method of birth control prevents pregnancy all of the time. Birth control methods can fail, but you can greatly increase a method’s success rate by using it correctly all of the time. The only way to be sure you never get pregnant is to not have sex (abstinence).

Continuous Abstinence – This means not having sexual intercourse (of any kind) at any time. It is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy. This method is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy. (0 chances for a fertile egg)

Periodic Abstinence or Fertility Awareness Methods – A woman who has a regular menstrual cycle has about seven or more fertile days or days when she is able to get pregnant, each month. Periodic abstinence means you do not have sex on the days that you may be fertile. These fertile days are approximately 5 days before ovulation, the day of ovulation, and one or more days after ovulation. Fertility awareness means that you can be abstinent or have sex but you use a “barrier” method of birth control to keep sperm from getting to the egg. Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps, used together with spermicides, which kill sperm. These methods are 75 to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. (.1 to 25% chance of having a fertile egg)

Keep in mind that to practice these methods, you need to learn about your menstrual cycle (or how often you get your period). To learn about your cycle, keep a written record of when you get your period, what it is like (heavy or light blood flow), and how you feel (sore breasts, cramps). You also check your cervical mucus and take your basal body temperature daily, and record these in a chart. This is how you learn to predict, or tell, which days you are fertile or “unsafe.” You can ask your doctor or nurse for more information on how to record and understand this information.

The Male Condom – Condoms are called barrier methods of birth control because they put up a block, or barrier, which keeps the sperm from reaching the egg. Male condoms are 84 to 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. (2-16% chance for a fertile egg)

Oral Contraceptives – Also called “the pill,” contains the hormones estrogen and progestin and is available in different hormone dosages. A pill is taken daily to block the release of eggs from the ovaries. The pill is 95 to 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. Some antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of the pill in some women. Talk to your doctor or nurse about a back-up method of birth control if she or he prescribes antibiotics. (.1 -5% chance for a fertile egg)

Most oral contraceptives are swallowed in a pill form. One brand, called Ovcon 35, can either be swallowed or chewed. If it is chewed, you must drink a full glass of liquid immediately after to make sure you get the full dose of medication. There are also extended cycle pills, brand name Seasonale, which have 12 weeks of pills that contain hormones (active) and 1 week of pills that don’t contain hormones (inactive). While taking Seasonale, women only have their period 4 times a year when they are taking the inactive pills. There are many different types of oral contraceptives available, and it is important to talk to your doctor or nurse about which one is best for you. You will need a prescription for oral contraceptives.

The Mini-Pill – Unlike the pill, the mini-pill only has one hormone, progestin, instead of both estrogen and progestin. Taken daily, the mini-pill thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. It also prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus (womb). Mini-pills are 92 to 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly. The mini-pill needs to be taken at the same time each day. A back-up method of birth control is needed if you take the pill more than three hours late. Some antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of the pill in some women. Talk to your doctor or nurse about a back-up method of birth control if she or he prescribes antibiotics. You will need to visit you doctor for a prescription and to make sure you are not having problems. (.1-8% chance for a fertile egg)

Copper T IUD (Intrauterine Device) – An IUD is a small device that is shaped in the form of a “T.” Your health care provider places it inside the uterus. The arms of the Copper T IUD contain some copper, which stops fertilization by preventing sperm from making their way up through the uterus into the fallopian tubes. If fertilization does occur, the IUD would prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus. The Copper T IUD can stay in your uterus for up to 12 years. This IUD is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor to have it inserted and to make sure you are not having any problems. Not all doctors insert IUDs so check first before making your appointment. (1% chance for a fertile egg, and as a side note and purely antidotal side bar, I know personally of two children born who survived the IUD; i.e. 1% is greater than it seems.)

Progestasert IUD (Intrauterine Device) –This IUD is a small plastic T- shaped device that is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It contains the hormone progesterone, the same hormone produced by a woman’s ovaries during the monthly menstrual cycle. The progesterone causes the cervical mucus to thicken so sperm cannot reach the egg, and it changes the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg cannot successfully implant. The Progestasert IUD can stay in your uterus for one year. This IUD is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor to have it inserted and to make sure you are not having any problems. Not all doctors insert IUDs so check first before making your appointment. (2% chance for a fertile egg)

Intrauterine System or IUS (Mirena) – The IUS is a small T-shaped device like the IUD and is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. Each day, it releases a small amount of a hormone similar to progesterone called levonorgestrel that causes the cervical mucus to thicken so sperm cannot reach the egg. The IUS stays in your uterus for up to five years The IUS is 99% effective. The Food and Drug Administration approved this method in December 2000. You will need to visit your doctor to have it inserted and to make sure you are not having any problems. Not all doctors insert the IUS so check first before making your appointment. (1%chance of a fertile egg)

The Female Condom – Worn by the woman, this barrier method keeps sperm from getting into her body. Female condoms are 79 to 95% effective at preventing pregnancy. There is only one kind of female condom, called Reality, and it can be purchased at a drug store. (5-21% chance for a fertile egg)

Depo-Provera – With this method women get injections, or shots, of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every 3 months. It is 97% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor for the shots and to make sure you are not having any problems. (3% chance for a fertile egg)

Diaphragm, Cervical Cap or Shield – These are barrier methods of birth control, where the sperm are blocked from entering the cervix and reaching the egg. The diaphragm is shaped like a shallow latex cup. The cervical cap is a thimble-shaped latex cup. The cervical shield is a silicone cup that has a one-way valve that creates suction and helps it fit against the cervix. The diaphragm and cervical cap come in different sizes and you need a doctor to “fit” you for one. The cervical shield comes in one size and you will not need a fitting. Before sexual intercourse, you use them with spermicide (to block or kill sperm) and place them up inside your vagina to cover your cervix (the opening to your womb). You can buy spermicide gel or foam at a drug store. Some women can be sensitive to an ingredient called nonoxynol-9 and need to use spermicides that do not contain it. The diaphragm is 84 to 94% effective at preventing pregnancy. The cervical cap is 84 to 91% effective at preventing pregnancy for women who have not had a child and 68 to 74% for women who have had a child. The cervical shield is 85% effective at preventing pregnancy. Barrier methods must be left in place for 6 to 8 hours after intercourse to prevent pregnancy and removed by 24 hours for the diaphragm and 48 for cap and shield. You will need to visit your doctor for a proper fitting for the diaphragm or cervical cap and a prescription for the cervical shield. (6-16%, 9-16%, 26-32%, 15% chance for a fertile egg, respective numbers)

Contraceptive Sponge - This is a barrier method of birth control that was re-approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005. It is a soft, disk shaped device, with a loop for removal. It is made out of polyurethane foam and contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Before intercourse, you wet the sponge and place it, loop side down, up inside your vagina to cover the cervix. The sponge is 84 to 91% effective at preventing pregnancy in women who have not had a child and 68 to 80% for women who have had a child. The sponge is effective for more than one act of intercourse for up 24 hours. It needs to be left in for at least six hours after intercourse to prevent pregnancy and must be removed within 30 hours after it is inserted. Women who are sensitive to the spermicide nonoxynol-9 should not use this birth control method. (9-16%, 20-32% chance for a fertile egg, respective numbers)

The Patch (Ortho Evra) –This is a skin patch worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body. It releases the hormones progestin and estrogen into the bloodstream. You put on a new patch once a week for three weeks, and then do not wear a patch during the fourth week in order to have a menstrual period. The patch is 98 to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but appears to be less effective in women who weigh more than 198 pounds. You will need to visit your doctor for a prescription and to make sure you are not having problems. (1-2% chance for a fertile egg)

The Hormonal Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (NuvaRing) – The NuvaRing is a ring that releases the hormones progestin and estrogen. You squeeze the ring between your thumb and index finger and insert it into your vagina. You wear the ring for three weeks, take it out for the week that you have your period, and then put in a new ring. The ring is 98 to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor for a prescription and to make sure you are not having problems. This birth control method is not recommended while breastfeeding because the hormone estrogen may decrease breast milk production. (1-2% chance for a fertile egg)

Surgical Sterilization (Tubal Ligation or Vasectomy) – These surgical methods are meant for people who want a permanent method of birth control. In other words, they never want to have a child or they do not want more children. Tubal ligation or “tying tubes” is done on the woman to stop eggs from going down to her uterus where they can be fertilized. The man has a vasectomy to keep sperm from going to his penis, so his ejaculate never has any sperm in it. They are 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. ( .1% chance for a fertile egg)

Nonsurgical Sterilization (Essure Permanent Birth Control System) – This is the first non-surgical method of sterilizing women. A thin tube is used to thread a tiny spring-like device through the vagina and uterus into each fallopian tube. Flexible coils temporarily anchor it inside the fallopian tube. A Dacron-like mesh material embedded in the coils irritates the fallopian tubes’ lining to cause scar tissue to grow and eventually permanently plug the tubes. It can take about three months for the scar tissue to grow, so it is important to use another form of birth control during this time. Then you will have to return to your doctor for a test to see if scar tissue has fully blocked your tubes. - After 3 years of follow-up studies, Essure has been shown to be 99.8 % effective in preventing pregnancy. ( .2% chance for a fertile egg)

Emergency Contraception – This is NOT a regular method of birth control and should never be used as one. Emergency contraception, or emergency birth control, is used to keep a woman from getting pregnant when she has had unprotected vaginal intercourse. “Unprotected” can mean that no method of birth control was used. It can also mean that a birth control method was used but did not work – like a condom breaking. Or, a woman may have forgotten to take her birth control pills, or may have been abused or forced to have sex when she did not want to. Emergency contraception consists of taking two doses of hormonal pills taken 12 hours apart and started within three days after having unprotected sex. These are sometimes wrongly called the “morning after pill.” The pills are 75 to 89% effective at preventing pregnancy. Another type of emergency contraception is having the Copper T IUD put into your uterus within seven days of unprotected sex. This method is 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. You will need to visit your doctor for either a prescription for the pills or for the insertion of the IUD, and to make sure you are not having problems." (11-25%, .1% chance for a fertile egg, respective numbers)

With information, one can conclude that no method is guaranteed to prevent pregnancy, (form a fertile egg), except abstinance. All the other forms have some risk of pregnancy, however minute.

The things we need to ask ourselves are, when a fertile egg does occur while on these methods, what happens next? What happens to that egg? Does it make it to birth or is it aborted?

Also, these percentages are the numbers deducted from the fertile eggs that were eventually considered a viable pregnancy. There are some fertile eggs that, although alive, formed, growing, and headed towards a uterus to implant, never make it, and are therefore never counted as a fertile egg. These are "lost". How does a fertile egg -conceived in spite of contriceptives -become lost before it can be counted even as viable? Do women know they can be aborting these fertile eggs and not even know it?

In order to answer these questions we need to know how these birth controls work...in even further detail. Something the drug companies used to inform us about, now we need to dig to find out. Next post we'll try to find some answers.

add to sk*rt

2 comments:

Alena said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alena

http://ovarianpain.net

S'mee said...

Thanks Alena! Wow, I am impressed you are reading the older stuff! : ) Glad to have you on board!