Being in my late twenties, it wasn’t uncommon for women in my mother’s generation to be seen smoking cigarettes while pregnant. In fact I know of quite a few women who have embarrassingly admitted that ‘they didn’t know.’ The thought of a pregnant woman lighting up these days sends shivers down your spine. Now knowing what we do about the effects of smoking on the unborn baby, woman today are socially persuaded to refrain from smoking – thank goodness. It’s sad because ‘back then’ (which wasn’t that long ago) women simply were not educated about the risks they were sharing with their babies. Had they known, their actions would’ve been different, as we see from the far majority of pregnant women today, who are making a conscious effort to refrain from smoking during pregnancy.
I think I may have stumbled upon a scary truth about a common practice today that twenty years from now, women may look back on and say they just ‘didn’t know,’ just like the whole cigarette thing. It has to do with the use of oral contraceptives. Just in observing trends around me I have noticed a plethora of pink ribbons and the number of stories from friends, family and acquaintances about women being diagnosed with breast cancer and many other types of cervical cancer. It’s everywhere. I am no doctor, but I am someone who can make connections based on data and statistics, which I would like to share with you. According to the National Cancer Institute, since the 1970’s the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer has been gradually rising each year. It’s interesting to think about the fact that it was in the 1960’s when oral contraceptives first became available to American women. With some quick research I found that most women diagnosed with side effects to oral contraceptives had been using them for five to ten years or more. So even though they became legal in the 1960’s, it’s taken until the 1970’s to start really seeing some of the side effects.
After googling information on oral contraceptives, I was shocked to find so many medical journals and articles about the connections of these commonly prescribed drugs, to deadly side effects. The list is huge, everything from numerous types of cancer to heart attacks and strokes. Does the common woman know this? Has her doctor or pharmacist taken the time to tell her? Has she taken the time to ask and research for herself? I found the statistic that today about 100 million women worldwide use oral contraceptives. What does this mean for these 100 million women 20-30 years from now?
I admit that I have been pretty naive in this subject and although the pill was a consideration I feel blessed that Jason and I were led to NFP (Natural Family Planning), not to be confused with the “rhythm method.” It is a safe, effective, healthy, and as Jason was shocked to find out, very scientific method for family planning. We have been happily practicing NFP for over five years.
I am just very nervous for the women of today. Drug companies, commercials, and our trusted doctors do not necessarily tell us and some don’t even know about all of the harmful effects these synthetic hormones have on womens’ bodies. Like I said, I am not a doctor, but I just hope and pray that women are asking the questions that will keep them informed about the effects these drugs have on their bodies and the possible side effects to their future children.
Kim, delighted to hear of someone who uses NFP! My parents taught it for years (and practiced it, but it wasn’t around yet when they had my brother and me). Once thing many people don’t realize is that it’s a great way to *get* pregnant! Tracking your signs/fertility is on the first things people struggling to become pregnant start doing!
But anyway, unfortunately for some of us women, we have to take the pill to reduce menstrual symptoms. Mine wiped me out 2-3 days a week, not as bad as some people as I could still make it to work, but I was in quite a fog at times. (Like one time, I told the secretary the photo copier wasn’t working again. 10 minutes later I finally realized that I’d kept putting the document in upside down. Not just once. I did it 2 or 3 times!) I know most women don’t do it for this reason, but unfortunately, some of us do. :(