“Most FABMs are as effective as the Pill and are the only methods of family planning that have no medical side effects.” –Alison Contreras, PhD, FCP
The latest health trends tell us we should ditch the artificial and go green. We’re on the lookout for labels that say “natural.” But what about our prescription birth control?
We all know that prescription drugs can have side effects. In most cases we’re given full disclosure by our doctor or pharmacist before taking them, because our safety is important. But how many of us have the full 411 on hormonal birth control? It’s time to take a hard look at the safety of contraceptives.
Let me ask you something. Did you know that birth control comes with a black box warning?
A boxed warning on a drug label is mandated by the FDA to “call attention to serious or life-threatening risks.” That’s right. The little pill that 15% of American women pop daily can endanger your life, and the manufacturers (and the FDA!) know it, even if you don’t.
There’s more. Although you likely won’t learn this from your doctor, you have the right to know that in 2005 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a branch of the World Health Organization), officially classified combined estrogen-progestin oral contraceptives as Group 1 carcinogens. That means these contraceptives “alter the risk of several common cancers in women. They increase a woman’s risk of cervical cancer, breast cancer, and liver cancer.” (source)
Injurious health conditions of all kinds — from migraines, depression, and blood clots, to breast cancer, cervical cancer, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and permanent sterilization — are all proven side effects of hormonal birth control (HBC). That includes the Pill, the patch, the vaginal ring, the shot, and IUDs.
Millions of females of childbearing age are handed a prescription for HBCs every year — and allowed to walk out the door under the illusion that side effects are minimum, if non-existent. I’m not ok with that.
It’s detrimental to women worldwide that most of us are never given the option of informed consent in the doctor’s office. But we are led to believe that hormonal contraceptives are safe — and that they’re the only effective way to prevent pregnancy and solve all our female health problems.
It’s time for a change, y’all. We don’t need artificial birth control and all the disease it brings with it. Because we can take charge of our bodies, our health, and our fertility through fertility awareness. That’s good news.
But wait, my friend — there’s more good news. 🙂
Avoiding adverse side effects isn’t the only reason for going green in the bedroom.
Let’s talk about sex. What’s it for?
When we’re thinking like grown ups, we can all agree — besides being enjoyable, sex is the (original) way that the human species continues. Sex is actually designed for procreation. That means that God created our bodies with mechanisms for reproduction, and when nature takes its course, making love often means making babies, too.
We can say that according to the laws of nature, sex and procreation are inseparable, and conception is the natural result of the sexual act. When we do something to interfere with or prevent this result, we’re going against our very nature, the beautiful blueprint endowed to us by our Creator.
In addition to making babies, we can argue that sex is also meant to be a loving union between spouses. From a Catholic worldview, which is the beautiful vantage point I write and teach from, we can even go so far as to say that God desires for us to be united with our beloved in such a magnificent and total way that it points us to what Heaven will be like. [I know, this seems like a really radical concept – you can read more here.]
When we use contraception, we’re actually inhibiting that total union — we’re withholding from our spouse a part of ourselves, our fertility. This may seem like a small thing, but its result becomes the temptation to use our beloved as a means to an end — our pleasure, without consequences.
So, here’s the good news — we’re really meant for sex au naturel.
Lovemaking that honors the laws of our nature, that holds nothing back, that creates unity between spouses — and ultimately, that leaves the door wide open for the Giver of Life to enter in.
This is a truth that the Catholic Church upholds and teaches as fundamental to our understanding of sex and the dignity of the human person. (I encourage you to learn more here.) But you don’t have to be Catholic to understand it. Just look at our culture, and how rampant sexual immorality has become. It’s not a stretch to say that artificial contraception has a direct link to this disorder.
Listen to Pope Paul VI’s ominous prediction about birth control back in 1968, at the advent of the Pill and the American sexual revolution:
“Let [people] consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. …It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of [contraceptive] practices, may finally lose respect for the woman, and no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae
He was incredibly prescient and his words have all but become our societal norm. But we can and we should change this tide. It starts with a quiet commitment to embrace natural — for the health of our bodies and the health of our marriages.
Is it easy? Nope. Is it fun? Not always. But it’s beautiful. And we were made for this.
For further learning:
- In the Name of the Pill, by Mike Gaskins
- Sweetening the Pill: How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control, by Holly Grigg-Spall
- Should We Stop Taking the Pill? (YouTube)
- The Fifth Vital Sign, by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack
- Sex Au Naturel, by Patrick Coffin
- Theology of the Body for Beginners, by Christopher West
- Humanae Viate, by Pope Paul VI
- Theology of the Body and Natural Family Planning, remarks by Archbishop Samuel Aquila, 2015
- Humanae Vitae Endow Study
- Unprotected, a feature film/documentary
- Time To Admit It: The Church Has Always Been Right On Birth Control