The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

Birth control and women’s health – sidebar

The Texas Freedom Network tonight reprinted a quote from a Texas-based organization that is against access to contraception. Here is the quote:

“I am so sick of people lumping abortion and birth control together and calling it ‘women’s health.’ Neither one of these two things are necessary for women to be healthy. In fact, you can make a pretty solid argument that both of these things are damaging to women’s health, emotionally and physically.” (Kyleen Wright, “Texans for Life Coalition”, Blog post Feb. 7, 2012 [1])

I was horrified and sickened by the claim that ” . . . [birth control is not] necessary for women to be healthy.” I cannot tell you how many women I know whose quality of life and health have increased significantly when on birth control. For instance, many women are plagued by the formation of excruciating cysts on their ovaries. In agreement with the experiences of female friends of mine who have experienced painful cysts, the cause of these growths is as follows:

“Each month during your menstrual cycle, a follicle (where the egg is developing) grows on your ovary. Most months, an egg is released from this follicle (called ovulation). If the follicle fails to break open and release an egg, the fluid stays in the follicle and forms a cyst.This is called a follicular cyst.” (“Ovarian cysts,” A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. [2]

Surgery can deal with existing cysts, but to prevent their  formation one must turn to birth control. The pill, and all its variations,  prevent either the release  or the implantation of the egg in the first place. This heads off the cysts. That’s a great boost for the health of the woman who otherwise would be crippled with monthly pain.

I’ve seen firsthand what follicular cysts can do. They can become so great in number and so large (the size of an eyeball, or larger) that they can leave the victim crawling on the floor, trying to decide whether it’s better to throw up from the pain or get to the emergency room and hope that morphine will take the edge off it for a few hours. That’s a shitty pair of choices.

So for many women, turning to birth control stops the problem and gives them a normal life. If they decide to have children, they just go off the birth control for a few months until they conceive.

Birth control has not only given women power over their reproductive cycle, but in some cases (like follicular cysts) it can lead to better health and a markedly improved quality of life. Endometriosis is another condition that can be treated by using birth control.

So to all you self-righteous ideologues out there, let’s get something straight: get some facts in your head, because right now the only thing firmly planted in your head appears to be your foot. If only having it jammed in your mouth kept you from talking.