The Birth Control Pill, Menopause and the History of Estrogen Regulation

  1. “The longer a woman stays on hormones, the more each cell in her body is poisoned. Does poison sound like too strong a word? A woman must decide for herself. As the years pass, her sugar metabolism may test out like a diabetic’s.” Drs. Barbara and Gideon Seaman
  2. “If my daughters had wanted to go on the Pill, I might have cried. Now, if my grand-daughters should choose it, I guess I can live with that. But even as the Pill gets safer, some troubling questions remain. The jury, in my opinion, is still out on the relationship of the Pill to breast cancer, infertility and high blood pressure, and we are only beginning to learn about some of its toxic interactions with other common drugs, like some antidepressants.
    Then too there are always uncertainties about newer products, like the third-generation progestins (desogestrel is one example), which may be raising the risk of blood clots, according to reports from Europe and New Zealand. Even at the very lowest doses, any hormonal contraceptive is, in some sense, tampering with nature, and is bound to cause some … dislocations.
    I still frequently think about those women of an earlier generation who took the first Pill – unaware of their part in a still unfolding experiment – and died for love. I also think about the Tuskegee experiment on black men with syphilis, for which President Clinton apologied. Perhaps the families of those who died from Enovid deserve the same.” Barbara Seaman, The Pill and I: 40 Years On, the Relationship Remains Wary
  3. “Seaman, author of the 1969 book “The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill,” will be forever remembered as the person who raised the alarm about potentially fatal side effects of estrogen used in the widely prescribed contraceptive pill, dangers only acknowledged by the federal government three decades later.
    When the Senate convened hearings on the matter, a group from DC Women’s Liberation interrupted and demonstrated with “impolite” questions like why men didn’t take a contraceptive pill and why no women had been asked to testify to the Senate committee.” Louise Bernikow, Barbara Seaman Raised Alarms, Answered Every Call
  4. “I felt that the situation should have been clear, because of the previous decades of research, and I used that as the context for arguing that the reason for age-related infertility was the same as for estrogen-induced infertility or stress-related infertility, namely, the inability to deliver oxygen to the embryo. I thought of the developing embryo as a sensitive indicator of processes that occur throughout the body during aging and stress, and that the destruction of the embryo by the excessive estrogen of the birth control pill was closely analogous to the progressive loss of function that occus in so many tissues during normal aging.” Raymond Peat, PhD, Aging, estrogen, and progesterone
  5. “Another effect of estrogen is to inhibit a proteolytic enzyme in the blood, which normally dissolves clots. This is why birth control pills can cause blood clotting, strokes, and other circulatory problems.” Raymond Peat, PhD
  6. “Most women do not get excited about the monthly visit from “Aunt Flo.” In fact, most wish they did not have it and many actually take medication to stop it! What this tells me is how very little women know about their monthly cycle.
    The monthly menstrual cycle is a magnificently orchestrated event designed for the purpose of new life. Within a woman’ s 24-36 day cycle there are many fluctuations within the hormonal patterns that occur. Fluctuations in hormones can present symptoms such as tender breast, lower abdominal cramping, light spotting, hunger, lack of concentration, depression, bloating and anxiety.
    Understanding hormonal fluctuations can help in identifying and making sense of how you can feel so good one day and so awful the next! There is an explanation for how you feel and understanding your body gives you the opportunity to learn how to support yourself and minimize the effects your monthly cycle can have on you!” EastWest Healing, Female Reproductive System – Menstrual Cycle, Part 1
  7. “My Mother use to say to me, “every woman in our family has severe menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding, it is normal.” Of course I went on believing this and at the age if 15 was introduced to birth control. In that day and age BCP were used to “treat” cramping, heavy bleeding and acne. I don’t know about you but sign me up!
    Now this is just a fraction of the equation. Over the last 40 years there have been HUGE changes in the environment and lifestyles. Our food is dirty, our water is dirty, our air is polluted, we work more, spend more, have more debt, don’t sleep, never rest and are always playing catch up!
    Nowadays, to some degree, we can say we are witnessing the results of a 40-year study in which the effects of birth control along with other environmental factors are proving detrimental.” EastWest Healing, Female Reproductive System – Hormones and Regulation, Part 2
  8. “Hormonal birth control can cause a lot of problems, but a nearly 40% increase in breast cancer rates should cause everyone to take pause. Researchers have long known the dangers of synthetic estrogens and progestins. It’s time for physicians and the public to clue in too.” On the Back of a Tiger
  9. In a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Ojvind Lidegaard from the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues found a 20% higher risk of developing breast cancer among women currently or recently using hormonal contraceptives. The longer women used contraceptives, the higher their risk; it increased from about 9% for women using it for less than a year to 38% for those using them for 10 years or more. Alice Park, Hormonal Birth Control Is Linked to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
  10. Am J Psychiatry. 2018 Apr 1;175(4):336-342. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17060616. Epub 2017 Nov 17.
    Association of Hormonal Contraception With Suicide Attempts and Suicides.
    Skovlund CW1, Mørch LS1, Kessing LV1, Lange T1, Lidegaard Ø1.
    Author information
    The purpose of this study was to assess the relative risk of suicide attempt and suicide in users of hormonal contraception.
  11. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1990 Jul;163(1 Pt 2):382-7.
    Effects of oral contraceptives on carbohydrate and lipid metabolisms in a healthy population: the Telecom study.
    Simon D1, Senan C, Garnier P, Saint-Paul M, Garat E, Thibult N, Papoz L.
    Author information
    In a cross-sectional study that aimed to identify risk factors for diabetes, 1290 consecutive, healthy, nonpregnant women of child-bearing age were examined in a center for preventive medicine. An in-depth interview about menses, use of oral contraceptives, and menopause was performed. Plasma glucose at fasting and 2 hours after a 75 gm glucose load, glycated hemoglobin A1c, fasting plasma insulin, total plasma cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured. Compared with nonusers taking no progestogens, oral contraceptive users (n = 431; 33.4%) were younger (p less than 0.001) and leaner (p less than 0.001). After adjustment for age and body mass index, oral contraceptive users had higher 2-hour plasma glucose (p less than 0.001), higher fasting plasma insulin (p less than 0.01), and higher triglycerides levels (p less than 0.01). Fasting plasma glucose, glycated hemoglobin A1c, and total cholesterol did not significantly differ between the two groups. In relation to dosage and types of steroid components, few differences have been found between high-dose and low-dose oral contraceptives or according to the estrogen-progestogen balance of the preparations. Use of oral contraceptives appears to induce an increase of insulin-resistance markers, which have recently been cited as risk factors for ischemic vascular diseases. These markers should be carefully monitored in oral contraceptive users.
  12. J Hypertens. 1998 Mar;16(3):357-68.
    A study of the interactive effects of oral contraceptive use and dietary fat intake on blood pressure, cardiovascular reactivity and glucose tolerance in normotensive women.
    Straznicky NE1, Barrington VE, Branley P, Louis WJ.
    Author information
    To investigate the interactive effects of oral contraceptive pill use and dietary fat intake on cardiovascular haemodynamics and metabolic parameters in young normotensive women.
  13. Am J Epidemiol. 1981 Aug;114(2):209-17.
    Breast cancer incidence in women with a history of progesterone deficiency.
    Cowan LD, Gordis L, Tonascia JA, Jones GS.
    In order to investigate the nature of the association of involuntarily delayed 1st birth and breast cancer risk, 1083 white women who had been evaluated and treated for in fertility from 1945-65 were followed prospectively through April 1978 to ascertain their breast cancer incidence. These women were categorized as to the cause of infertility into 2 groups, those with endogenous progesterone deficiency (PD) and those with nonhormonal causes (NH). Women in the PD group had 5.4 times the risk of premenopausal breast cancer as compared to women in the NH group. This excess risk could not be explained by differences between the 2 groups in age at menarche or age at menopause, history of oral contraceptive use, history of benign breast dieases, or age at 1st birth. Women in the PD group also experienced a 10-fold increase in deaths from all malignant neoplasm compared to the NH group. The incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer did not differ significantly between the 2 groups.
  14. Cancer Res August 1, 2014 74; 4078
    Recent Oral Contraceptive Use by Formulation and Breast Cancer Risk among Women 20 to 49 Years of Age
    Elisabeth F. Beaber, Diana S.M. Buist, William E. Barlow, Kathleen E. Malone, Susan D. Reed, and Christopher I. Li
    Previous studies of oral contraceptives and breast cancer indicate that recent use slightly increases risk, but most studies relied on self-reported use and did not examine contemporary oral contraceptive formulations. This nested case–control study was among female enrollees in a large U.S. integrated health care delivery system. Cases were 1,102 women ages 20 to 49 years diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from 1990 to 2009. Controls were randomly sampled from enrollment records (n = 21,952) and matched to cases on age, year, enrollment length, and medical chart availability. Detailed oral contraceptive use information was ascertained from electronic pharmacy records and analyzed using conditional logistic regression, ORs, and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Recent oral contraceptive use (within the prior year) was associated with an increased breast cancer risk (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.3–1.9) relative to never or former OC use. The association was stronger for estrogen receptor–positive (ER+; OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3–2.1) than estrogen receptor–negative (ER−) disease (OR, 1.2, 95% CI, 0.8–1.8), although not statistically significantly different (P = 0.15). Recent use of oral contraceptives involving high-dose estrogen (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.1–6.2), ethynodiol diacetate (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.4–4.7), or triphasic dosing with an average of 0.75 mg of norethindrone (OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.9–5.1; Pheterogeneity compared with using other oral contraceptives = 0.004) was associated with particularly elevated risks, whereas other types, including low-dose estrogen oral contraceptives, were not (OR, 1.0; 95% CI, 0.6–1.7). Our results suggest that recent use of contemporary oral contraceptives is associated with an increased breast cancer risk, which may vary by formulation. If confirmed, consideration of the breast cancer risk associated with different oral contraceptive types could impact discussions weighing recognized health benefits and potential risks. Cancer Res; 74(15); 4078–89. ©2014 AACR.
Vintage Birth Control
Image: Vintage Birth Control Illustration
Pablo Picasso Girl Before A Mirror
Image: Pablo Picasso, “Girl Before A Mirror”

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