A women’s choice

CORRINE HARRIS | Evergreen columnist

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In an age when the word ‘hormone’ sends masses of people into panic, the movement away from steroidal or hormone-based birth control is gaining momentum, especially as researchers claim that oral contraceptives are correlated with increased risk for multiple sclerosis. 

Unfortunately, that momentum will be moving females everywhere toward a greater percentage of accidental pregnancies. 

The modern woman is faced with many dilemmas when considering contraceptive methods, including exposure to naturally-occurring hormones, a supposed correlation with MS, and the risk of an unplanned or unwanted child. However, the choice of birth control is completely up to each individual woman.   

Most birth control methods are based on the biological action of steroid hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. 

Progestins, which are natural or synthetic materials with progesterone-like actions, and estrogens are used in birth controls to prevent pregnancy. This is accomplished mainly through the prevention of ovulation. 

Additionally, the two female hormones change the lining of the uterus, making it unfavorable to sustaining pregnancy and alter the composition of mucus at the cervix, or the opening of the uterus, to prevent male sperm from entering, according to the MedlinePlus article.  

The anti-hormone crusaders of the world should remember that birth control utilizes the same hormones produced in most females. Hormones make contraception plans like the pill or vaginal rings relatively effective compared to natural family planning methods. 

Nonetheless, many are concerned with the proclaimed theory that birth control hormones go hand in hand with increased risk for MS. A study examining 305 women with MS found that 29 percent of the women had used hormonal contraceptives, according to Bioscience Technology.

The study also claimed that women using hormonal contraceptives were 35 percent more likely to develop MS than women who do not use hormone-based birth control. The research will not be presented to the public until April at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting. 

Correlation is not causation. Until a causative mechanism is found, hormonal birth control should not be condemned for increasing risk of MS, especially since the hormones occur naturally in the female body. 

All birth control does is deliver the hormones in different amounts at times that do not correspond to the natural female reproductive cycle to prevent ovulation and reduce the possibility of becoming pregnant in the wake of sexual intercourse. 

Natural birth control mainly consists of monitoring the menstrual cycle to determine which days out of the cycle it is possible to become pregnant, according to the website womenshealth.gov. Abstinence or a barrier method, like a condom, is utilized on days that a woman can become pregnant. 

However, these methods are not as effective and are more liable to faults, according to the U.K. National Health Service. A condom can break or a woman can misinterpret her fertility cycle. 

Women should use the tools available to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but since a woman’s body is her own domain, she has every right to choose which tools she uses.