World Population Awareness

Birth Control Choices

February 28, 2015

1997, United Nations Population Fund

"All couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information and means to do so." doclink

February 2000, Chicago Tribune

A century ago, women feared dying in childbirth and yet could do little to control conception. The Comstock laws clamped down on freedom of information by making it a crime to send "obscene" material through the mail, including birth control information and devices. In 1916, Margaret Sanger was arrested for distributing diaphragms. In the 10 days her Brooklyn clinic was open, she fitted 488 women with diaphragms, an indication of women's unmet need to control pregnancy. Legal abortion wasn't even on the agenda. doclink

A Brief History of Contraception

February 18 , 2015, Atlantic Monthly   By: Jackie Lay

The use of contraceptives dates all the way back to 1850 B.C., when women in ancient Egypt used honey, acacia leaves, and lint to block sperm. This two-minute animation traces the history of contraception through the centuries, from sea sponges (500 B.C.), linen sheath condoms (1564), lemon cervical caps (1700), and the "rhythm method" (1920) to modern advancements such as vaginal rings, hormone injections, IUDs, and patches. doclink

Birth Control Choices

Birth Control Methods

July 2014, Bedsider

Visit this interactive website to learn about the various forms of birth control. Which ones are the most effective? Which are hormone free? And other questions are answered. doclink

Forget the Pill, IUD is the New Queen of Birth Control

With an estimated 4 million unintentional pregnancies each year, gynecologists are urging their patients switch from oral contraceptives to an intrauterine device (IUD). Just three years after doctors cast it off as unsuitable, the IUD is reigning supreme.
May 30 , 2014   By: Sarah Kunst

In the United States there 4 million live births each year, and half are estimated to be unplanned or unintended. Of the majority of unplanned births the largest majority come from women in their 20s.

With the questionable efficacy of condoms and the widespread misuse of birth control, an alternative has now been recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Intrauterine devices (IUD). With less than one pregnancy per 100 women in a year, its the most effective birth control method available on the market, yet only 10% of women using birth control are using this form of birth control.

It has been estimated that of the 2 million births in America in 2011 came unexpectedly. According to Dr. Tina Raine-Bennett of the Women's Health Research Institute at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, "20-24-year-olds have highest number of unintended pregnancies across all demographic groups while over one-third of unintended pregnancies end in abortion."

Despite current birth control methods, in 2012 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists got behind the IUD recommending it as the preferred birth control option for all women, even those who haven't yet given birth. Although there are risks, that can be said for any drug or implant. Smaller issues that result from IUDs mirror those of other contraceptives, such as menstrual cramps, spotting, or infection. But more dangerous issues can, in rare cases, arise. One in about 1000 users may experience perforation (the IUD puncturing the uterus wall), while others may experience expulsion (the IUD falling out completely).

Overall there is hope for the device, and studies show women are generally more satisfied with IUDs compared to the pill. doclink

Karen Gaia says: this is really where we ought to be focusing. IUDs are more expensive and many women don't know enough about them. Let's start helping projects that focus on IUDs, making them affordable, and making sure contraceptive counselling includes them.

Galen Patents Chewable Contraceptive Pill

December 26, 2003, Telegraph

Galen Holdings, the Northern Irish pharmaceutical company, has been granted a patent for its chewable contraceptive pill. Spearmint-flavoured, the tablet will be the first ever chewable contraceptive.
It should be available in the US in the spring. The tablet will eventually replace the company's Ovcon tablet but there is no plan to sell it in Britain. Galen is working on a deal with Barr of the US that would give Barr the rights to Galen's other oral contraceptives, Loestrin and Loestrin (R) FE. Galen concentrates especially on new methods of contraception. It has recently launched an intra-vaginal ring that delivers contraceptive drugs. doclink

Sex in Australia: Contraceptive Practices Among a Representative Sample of Women

January 06, 2004, National Institute of Health (NIH)

This study documents the use of contraception in a sample of Australian women aged 16-59 years contacted with computer-assisted telephone interviews; the response rate was 77.6%. Nearly 71% were using contraception. The most common reasons for non-use were side-effects or contraindications 23%, leaving it to chance 20.2%, forgetting/not caring 18.9%, breast feeding 16.5%, and believing it unnatural/unhealthy 13.7%. The most used methods were oral contraceptives 33.6%, tubal ligation/hysterectomy 22.5%, condom 21.4%, vasectomy of partner 19.3%. Tubal ligation rates were higher and condom use lower in regional and remote areas. doclink

Female Condoms Make Their Debut in India

February 13, 2004, Push newsfeed

A condom for women was launched in the Indian market as the result of a joint effort by the Hindustan Latex Limited (HLL) and Britain-based Female Health Company (FHC). The product is a strong, soft, transparent 17-centimetre polyurethane sheath inserted in the vagina before sexual intercourse. It protects the vagina and cervix. It is odourless, stronger than latex and can be used with water-based and oil-based lubricants. doclink

Female Condoms Make Their Debut in India

February 13, 2004, Push newsfeed

A condom for women was launched in the Indian market as the result of a joint effort by the Hindustan Latex Limited (HLL) and Britain-based Female Health Company (FHC). The product is a strong, soft, transparent 17-centimetre polyurethane sheath inserted in the vagina before sexual intercourse. It protects the vagina and cervix. It is odourless, stronger than latex and can be used with water-based and oil-based lubricants. doclink

Yasmin: Another Birth Control Pill to Consider

April 01, 2004, Straits Times

Yasmin is the world's first birth control pill to contain Drospirenone, which has an effect very similar to the hormone progesterone. Based on its mild anti-mineralocorticoid activity, drospirenone helps to counteract ostrogen-based water retention in the body. Yasmin has anti-androgenic properties which may give better skin and it doesn't make you fat. Yasmin is the most up-to-date oral contraception and addresses the reservations women have when going on the Pill. Yasmin will be available in clinics, private hospitals and pharmacies. No prescription is required but it is advisable to consult a gynaecologist before taking any oral contraceptive. doclink

Hartford Courant Examines New Female Sterilization Methods

April 15, 2004, Conceptus

Two new female sterilization methods require no incisions. FDA approved a device that consists of small metal coils implanted in the fallopian tubes that prompt scar tissue to grow and permanently plug the tubes. The coils are inserted through the cervix in a half-hour outpatient procedure which requires no surgical incision or general anesthesia. The scar tissue may need to grow for three months before the tubes are blocked. Implanting Essure soon could be performed in doctors' offices. 27.7% of couples choose female sterilization as a method of contraception, and 10.9% opt for the male to have a vasectomy. A five-year study is being made with 500 women of a female sterilization device that uses a plastic plug to close the fallopian tubes. doclink

Birth Control Links

  • provides online answers to reproductive health questions.
  • Condom HallEverything you wanted to know about condoms, STDs/HIV/AIDS, and where to get condoms.
  • Ann Rose's Ultimate Birth Control Links - A pleasant way to check out various methods of birth control
  • Alan Guttmacher Institute - Reproductive Health and Research
  • About different methods of birth control, including 'natural' - from Family Health International
  • doclink

    A Guide to Contraception

    October 20, 2011,

    ... doclink

    Medical Abortion

    U.S.: More Health Professionals Balk at Giving Birth Control

    August 08, 2004, Copley News Service

    The overwhelming number of Americans support birth control and use it. However, A small percentage of physicians, nurses and pharmacists have steered clear of supplying contraceptives because of religious convictions. A pharmacist in Cincinnati refuses to fill birth-control prescriptions because she considers abortion a sin and a termination of human life. Some doctors contend that millions of American women are wrongly prescribed birth-control drugs when alternatives such as natural family planning are cheaper and carry fewer health risks. More than 400 health care providers attended the American Academy of Fertility Care Professionals conference, triple the number the previous year. Organizers say the increase is fueled by religious doctrines and advances in drug-free contraception and fertility practices. The issue centers on when human life begins and for many this is when a sperm penetrates an egg, for others once the fertilized egg is implanted in the woman's uterus. Others believe it is when a baby draws its first breath. With such wide-ranging interpretations, the forms of contraception can present difficult moral choices for health care practitioners and some experts wrestle over whether measures of contraception are ethical. The Catholic Church and other religious institutions have long preached against most forms of birth control beyond abstinence or the rhythm method. Twelve million women rely on hormonal contraceptives, which require a prescription, to keep from getting pregnant, but the number of physicians and medical professionals who believe that using birth control and morning-after pills is abortion appears to be increasing. The war on choice is not just about abortion anymore, it's about the right to birth control. In rural communities, patients may have to drive miles to obtain or fill a prescription. Wal-Mart, dispenses birth-control pills but refuses to sell emergency contraception. The San Diego office of Planned Parenthood allows patients to sign up over the Internet for the morning-after pill, which has to be taken within hours of intercourse to be fully effective. Trying to force your beliefs on others is not only arrogant, it breaks the American covenant, which is tolerance of other people's beliefs. Most of the regulatory boards allow health care professionals to opt out of treatments for moral reasons as long as they arrange alternatives for their patients. At least 20 states have bills pending that would recognize the rights of physicians and pharmacists to deny prescribing birth control, but such legislation has only become law South Dakota. Some companies allow workers to refuse service to customers, and others do not. doclink

    Australia: Evidence Shows RU486 May Be Safer Than Surgical Abortion

    November 21, 2005, AAP (Australia)

    The Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is backing an effective ban on the pill RU486 to be lifted. The drug should be made available to Australian women. The evidence suggests it may be safer than surgical termination of pregnancy. John Howard signalled he would offer Liberal MPs a conscience vote on the issue. In Australia, women wanting to use RU486 have to apply through their doctor for government approval. The Australian Democrats plan to move an amendment which would remove Mr Abbott's powers to grant approval for the drug's use. Mr Abbott has cited health department advice which warned it could be dangerous for women in rural and remote areas because its use requires medical supervision and access to emergency care. But that advice has been discredited by experts. The first decision a woman makes is whether or not she wishes to have a termination of pregnancy and why she would prefer a surgical or a medical termination. Practitioners would have good evidence so they could discuss that with the woman so she can make an informed decision. doclink

    U.S.: After 2 More Deaths, Planned Parenthood Alters Method for Abortion Pill

    March 18, 2006, New York Times*

    Planned Parenthood announced that it would change the way it gives RU-486, or Mifeprex. The F.D.A. has received reports that six women in the US died after taking the pills, and a seventh died in Canada. The previous four resulted from infections with Clostridium sordellii. One of the two recent deaths occurred within days of the victim's undergoing a pill-based abortion, while the other woman died within five weeks. Mifeprex has been used in more than 560,000 medical abortions in the US and more than 1.5 million in Europe. The risks of death after using the pill are similar to the risks after surgical abortions or childbirth. When Mifeprex was approved in 2000, the standard regimen was to give the drug in a doctor's office followed two days later by an oral dose of a different drug, misoprostol, also in a doctor's office. Women expelled the fetus over the following days or weeks in a process that mimicked a miscarriage. The procedure must begin within 49 days of conception. Soon after Mifeprex's approval, most doctors instructed women to insert misoprostol vaginally at home two to three days after taking Mifeprex. But this regimen was not approved by the drug agency. As reports of deaths trickled into the F.D.A., officials issued warnings that doctors should stick to the approved regimen but until Friday, Planned Parenthood had rejected those warnings. Patients would still be asked to take the second drug orally at home. The drug agency said it was "investigating all the circumstances associated with these cases." The agency repeated that women who undergo pill-based abortions should be vigilant for signs of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea and weakness with or without abdominal pain and they should be given antibiotics. Doctors may not associate a death with a pill-based abortion, especially if the death occurs weeks later. The risk of infections could be eliminated if abortion patients were given antibiotics as a preventative. But officials say that the risk of infection from Clostridium sordellii is so slight that it does not merit such a precaution. doclink

    Scientists Will Gather to Discuss Safety of Abortion Pill

    May 11, 2006, New York Times*

    Worried about a bacterial infection that led to the deaths of at least five women who took the abortion pill RU-486, scientists from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health will consider whether the means of administering abortion drugs make pregnant women more susceptible to the bacterium Clostridium sordellii and whether the deaths signal the emergence of a more virulent strain of the bacterium. The five deaths were from infection by Clostridium sordellii, which can induce toxic shock. The cause of a sixth death has not been announced. Clostridium sordellii infections are rare, but pregnancy appears to increase the risks. Abortion experts have been at a loss to explain why four of the deaths occurred in California. Tests had found no evidence of contamination of the pills .

    Another theory concerned the role a dry climate might play. Some experts believe that pregnant women who take RU-486 with another drug, misoprostol, are more vulnerable to infection. The pill causes uterine contractions that expel the dead fetus.

    The F.D.A. in 2000 approved a protocol that requires women to take misoprostol orally. But abortion providers have instructed women to insert misoprostol vaginally and some scientists say the vaginal insertion may introduce bacteria.

    In 2004, the F.D.A. put strong warnings regarding the risks of infection on RU-486 labels but is not considering further restrictions.

    The National Abortion Federation's insurer insisted that its clinics use the F.D.A. protocol when providing abortion drugs. In the US some abortion doctors have decided against using RU-486 altogether.

    Until March, Planned Parenthood, continued to instruct its doctors to give misoprostol vaginally, but with the sixth death, the organization now uses an oral protocol. The risk of death with pill-based abortions now appears to be about 10 times that of surgical abortions.

    RU-486 might make women more susceptible to Clostridium sordellii because the drug may inhibit mechanisms that moderate immunity.

    The oral administration of misoprostol is more common in Europe, but vaginal use has been growing.

    The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which provides 25% of all abortions in Britain, said her agency relied on vaginal drug insertion.

    Clinics in Sweden and Hong Kong do the same, and vaginal use is growing in France. doclink

    U.S.: HHS Moves to Define Contraception as Abortion

    July 15, 2008, RH Reality Check website

    The Department of Health and Human Services released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception. It is attempting to redefine the birth control, which 40% of Americans use, as abortion. This would protect extremists. The proposed laws prohibit federal grant recipients from requiring employees to help provide or refer for abortion services.

    Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy and there are two views on when a pregnancy begins. Some consider it begins at the fertilization of the egg by the sperm, while others consider it to begin when the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus. About 49% of Americans believe that human life begins at conception and think that any action that destroys human life after conception is abortion. Those who believe pregnancy begins at implantation believe abortion only includes the destruction of a human being after it has implanted.

    Some medical authorities have defined the term "established pregnancy" as occurring after implantation. Others present different definitions. For example, pregnancy is "the state of a female after conception and until the termination of the gestation." or "the condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body, after union of an oocyte and spermatozoon".

    Up until now, the federal government followed the definition of pregnancy as: pregnancy begins at implantation. It now claims that pregnancy begins at some biologically unknowable moment and there would be no way for a woman to prove she's not pregnant. Thus, any woman could be denied contraception.

    There is no scientific evidence that hormonal methods of birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. This argument is the basis upon which the religious right hopes to include the 40% of the birth control methods Americans use, under "abortion." In 1999, the physicians released an open letter stating: "Some special interest groups have claimed that some methods of contraception may have an abortifacient effect. It is speculation, and if a family, decides to use this modality, we are confident that they are not using an abortifacient."

    The absence of evidence does not slow anti-abortion attempts to classify hormonal contraception as abortion. Because the statutes seek, in part, to protect the conscience of the individual or institution within the bounds of reason. Both definitions of pregnancy are reasonable. The Department proposes to allow individuals and institutions to adhere to their own views. So HHS proposes that anyone can enforce his or her own definition of abortion "within the bounds of reason." This new rule establishes a legal precedent that may be used as a basis for banning the most popular forms of birth control with abortion. doclink

    Study: Home-Administered Misoprostol Safe Abortion Option for Women Up to 63 Days Pregnant

    March 15, 2010, IPPF

    Swedish researchers conclude that taking misoprostol at home as part of a medical abortion regimen is a safe option for women who are 50 to 63 days pregnant. In the U.S., women have been permitted to take physician- prescribed misoprostol at home since 2000.

    Mifepristone -- the first drug in the medical abortion regimen, which is taken three to four days prior to misoprostol -- is administered at a clinic, physician's office or hospital. Most European countries require that women take both drugs in a clinic, doctor's office or hospital.

    Among women who were fewer than 50 days pregnant, 199 experienced complete abortions, while 186 of the women who were between 50 and 63 days pregnant experienced complete abortions. Ten women required surgery. About six in 10 women needed extra pain medication. doclink

    The First 12 Seconds of This Video Should End the Anti-Birth-Control Argument

    September 05 , 2012, Upworthy   By: Rollie Williams

    It couldn't be a more clear-cut issue. Women need to be able to control their own futures, and the way to make that possible is through readily available contraception (which would consequently save 700,000 lives per year). Seriously, how could we possibly have gender equality without it?

    Giving women and girls access to family planning tools and information is the easiest way to empower them to determine their own futures.

    Raise your voice and pledge to support family planning for the millions who need and want it: doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Contraceptives prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg. Saying that contraceptive is killing unborn children is like saying every time a woman menstruates or a man ejaculates outside of vaginal intercourse -- they are killing babies.

    Male Responsibility

    Australian Researchers Successfully Test Hormone Combination That Suppresses Sperm Production

    October 09, 2003, Reuters

    Australian researchers have successfully tested hormone injections to suppress sperm production. In 55 male-female couples the men received testosterone every four months and progestin every three months given by injection. None of women became pregnant, there were no serious side effects and normal fertility returned in a few months. The hormones turn off sperm production, but also shut down men's testosterone production, so they need to be given extra doses to maintain health and sex drive. This will lead to a single injection contraceptive taken on a three-to-four monthly basis. Schering and Dutch-based Organon announced they will begin a Phase II trial for an experimental male oral contraceptive that combines testosterone injections and a progestin implant injected under the skin once every three or four months. There will be a product to market in about five years. doclink

    Kiwi Men a Cut Above Rest

    October 12, 2003, Sunday Star

    19.3% of Kiwi men use a vasectomy compared to 14.4% of women who are sterilised, while 20.5% of married women use the pill. In the Netherlands 10.5% of men and 4.8% of women are sterilised, in the UK 12% and 11% respectively. Bhutan had the fewest female sterilisations at 3.1% and 13.5% of men had a vasectomy. Sterilisation was the world's most widely used contraceptive method with about one in four couples. New Zealand men are family orientated and have realised this is something they can do. doclink

    Schering, Organon Trial Male Pill

    January 22, 2004, Push newsfeed

    German drug maker Schering and Dutch company Organon starting Phase 2 trials on a combined implant and injection that could be a step towards the "male pill". Schering said trials would be completed by December 2005 and the drug could come on to the market in 5-7 years. Schering and Organon admit that the potential size of the market, and sales forecasts, are impossible to assess. doclink

    U.S.: Many Men Prefer STDs to Condom Use

    January 22, 2004, UPI

    Two-thirds of men with a primary sexual partner and one-third of those without a primary partner said they don't use condoms consistently. Even after seeking treatment for a sexually transmitted infection and acknowledging the protective value of condoms, many men refuse to use them. Men in intimate relationships were the least likely to use a condom regularly. Those with the least confidence in using condoms with a main partner wanted their partner to know that they were committed to the relationship. Men with no steady sexual partner or who used drugs and alcohol were the least likely to use condoms. doclink

    Scotland: Men Reluctant to Participate in Male Pill Trial

    May 21, 2004, BBC News

    A male contraceptive pill may have to be shelved before clinical trials are complete from a lack of volunteers. The contraceptive combines an implant and injections to lower sperm production temporarily. The implant was 'virtually free' of side effects, but no one knew what the consequences of long term use would be. There's a strong idea that women should suffer in the service of preventing pregnancy. The Family Planning Association (FPA) said that men would take the pill once it was available. A study of Scottish women suggested they would trust a man if he said he was taking contraception. 90% of women thought a male pill a good idea, 65% felt the responsibility for contraception falls too much on women. doclink

    Uganda: Men Shun Vasectomy

    June 21, 2004, New Vision (Uganda)

    Kampala providers at Mulago hospital are disappointed at men's poor response to vasectomy that accounted for less than 5% of family planning. Some men had a vasectomy without the consent of their wives, who continued trying to conceive and some men have demanded reversal which is impossible. The major limitation was that men were not aware of its availability and had misconceptions about its effects. The Ministry of Health has to increase publicity through electronic media, train more counsellors and introduce outreach programs. Vasectomy cannot be marketed like the pill or the condom - it can only be through health centres distributing reading materials and training health workers to provide counselling. However the Ministry of Health did not have enough resources. doclink

    India: Chinese Family Planning Method Getting Popular in Himachal

    August 27, 2004, Hindustan Times

    A Chinese method of family planning not involving surgery is gaining popularity in Himachal Pradesh with new training centres for doctors. The technique involves a hook to seal the male vein carrying semen and no stitches are needed. It has evoked good response at several state-run hospitals. Two centres for training doctors in the vasectomy technique are being set up in Chamba and Kullu towns. doclink

    Docs Perfect Pill for Men; GPS to Prescribe Implants by 2007

    September 27, 2004, Push Journal

    Scottish scientists have developed a safe 'male pill' that could be available within three years. The trial is on-going and when the implant is inserted, the men's sperm count goes down to nothing. There are not the side-effects we have seen before. Each of the 36 volunteers had one progesterone rod implanted under the skin to prevent them producing sperm. They were also given a dose of testosterone to make sure their sex drive was not adversely affected. Half the group were given the male hormone in an implant form, while the other half had tiny pellets inserted into their stomachs every three months. Within four months their sperm count had been temporarily reduced to zero. Once the implant is removed the sperm count returns to normal after three months. The volunteers had not experienced any side-effects. The progesterone implant stops the testicle producing sperm and testosterone. The testosterone implant gives them back enough testosterone so that they feel normal and their sex drive is normal. doclink


    India: Drug Firms Push Unapproved Fertility Drugs

    January 02, 2004,

    Lax drug regulations in India allow companies to push unapproved drugs and contraceptives that pose risks to women's health. They are distributed through private practitioners and quacks and nothing is being done to prevent it. The government agreed to investigate the use of anti cancer Letrozole as a pro-fertility drug. SUN Pharmaceuticals and Dabur (India) Ltd have been warned from promoting Letrozole pending its approval as a fertility drug. It has been approved in India for breast cancer but doctors have used it to improve fertility in women. Several doctors acknowledged that they were encouraged to test the drugs on infertile women by representatives from the pharmaceutical companies. 400 women are believed to have used the drug on a trial basis. It is said to be toxic to embryo and foetus, by the original discoverer, and drug regulators, including the US (USFDA), the British (BMHRA) and Australian (TGA). The anti malarial drug Quinacrine banned for use as a contraceptive has been widely distributed and used on women who are not informed of its effects. 32 women who where sterilised with Quincarine were unaware it had been banned and had serious health hazards. Practitioners who break the ban are immune from prosecution. doclink

    Quinicrine for Sterilization

    March 26, 2005, Richard Grossman, Ob-Gyn

    Quinacrine has also been used to scar a woman's tubes, making her permanently sterile (quinacrine sterilization, or QS). The current method is to use seven little pellets that are inserted using a modified IUD inserter, then repeat in a month. After both treatments, about 95 % of women will be sterile. In some cases the percentage is even higher--approaching 100 %.

    The side effects and risks of serious problems are very small, as is the co... doclink

    Birth Control Usage in the USA

    U.S. Clears Bristol-Myers Chewable Contraceptive

    November 20, 2003, Reuters

    U.S. regulators approved the first chewable oral contraceptive for women, a spearmint-flavored tablet called Ovcon 35. Bristol-Myers will manufacture the product, and Warner Chilcott, will market it, the Food and Drug Administration said. It contains progestin and estrogen and may be swallowed whole or chewed and swallowed. Women who chew the tablet should drink an 8-ounce glass of liquid afterwards so the full dose reaches the stomach. The drug's possible side effects are similar to those of other birth control pills. doclink

    U.S. Government Says Study on Birth Control Pill's Benefits was Flawed

    December 16, 2004, Associated Press

    A study concluding that birth control pills slightly lowered the risk of heart disease has been called flawed by federal officials who say it wasn't properly reviewed. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute said these analyses hadn't been properly reviewed, and a new analysis determined that the heart findings were flawed and they could not find a relationship. The breast cancer findings also are suspect now, she said. The research is best known for its finding that taking hormones after menopause raised the risk of certain cancers and heart problems. It relies on women's memories of drugs they used in previous years rather than actual records. Previous studies that were scientifically sound have found that pill-users have a small increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks and stroke. Pill users reported a 8% less risk of cardiovascular disease and 7% less risk of cancer. But those findings were not verified with medical records. Scientists want to look at the data. doclink

    U.S.: AMA: Doctors Should Be Able to Sell Drugs

    June 22, 2005, UPI

    The American Medical Association wants physicians to be able to dispense medications if a pharmacist claims a conscientious objection and balks at filling the prescription. Faced with reports pharmacists are citing conscientious objections to filling prescriptions for contraceptives and other drugs, the AMA called for state laws that would allow physicians to dispense medications when no nearby pharmacist is willing to do so. The policy would affect rural areas where no pharmacist can be found within a 30-mile radius. The new policy is an attempt to overcome a trend by pharmacists who say they cannot dispense the emergency contraception pill, birth control pills; drugs used to treat psychiatric illnesses; and, often, pain medications. Not only are the patients not getting prescriptions filled, but pharmacists are refusing to return the prescriptions and lecturing the patients about the drugs. The Pharmacists Association recognizes an individual pharmacist's right to exercise conscientious refusal and supports systems to ensure patient access to legally prescribed therapy. Physicians say that means pharmacists must refer patients to other pharmacists who are willing to fill the prescriptions. The Pharmacists Association said it has not received any complaints about pharmacists refusing to refer patients or refusing to return prescriptions. The pharmacist organization has no mechanism to censure pharmacists who refuse to refer patients or refuse to return prescriptions. doclink

    Burning Bras? It's the Pill That Gave Women Freedom

    July 18, 2005, Daily Mail

    The availability of birth control pills and liberal abortion laws have had the greatest impact by far on women's lives in recent years. A new study by researchers at the London School of Economics, which collected data from 45,000 women in Britain and 11 other European countries, indicates that the birth control pill, which became available to married women in 1961, has enabled women to stay in school longer, get better paying jobs and derive better satisfaction from life.

    The study found that other items on the feminist agenda, such as parity in divorce laws and better maternity leave policies, had minimal, or in the case of divorce, a negative impact on women's lives. But the benefits of birth control and legal abortions for women have been on a par with substantial pay rises.

    Anti-abortion advocates have maintained that while these benefits have indeed accrued to women, their extension to teenagers and younger women have resulted in loose morals and lower birth rates, without the same economic advantage that is deemed vital for the woman who has entered the workforce. doclink

    Birth Control: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

    July 29, 2011, The Nation (US)

    On the heels of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation that birth control be covered by all insurance plans, and without co-payment, the author reviewed Janet Farrell Brodie's fascinating Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America.

    In antebellum America,there were tracts like Charles Knowlton's "Fruits of Philosophy or the Private Companion of Young Married People" (contained a summary of what was then known about the physiology of conception, listed a number of methods to treat infertility and impotence, and explained a method of birth control: to wash out the vagina after intercourse with certain chemical solutions); newspapers carried ads for medications; and douches and 'womb veils,' early forms of the diaphragm, which some women wore for years at a time.

    In most states abortion before 'quickening' was legal until after the Civil War and widely practiced; abortifacient drugs were easy to find under brand names like The Samaritan's Gift for Females.

    Nineteenth-century methods included withdrawal (not for everyone), reusable condoms, and douching with cold water and baking soda after intercourse. Some so-called experts got the rhythm method exactly backward. With these methods backed up by abortion, the average native-born American woman had only four in 1900 compared to eight in 1800, despite the clampdown on birth control and information by the Comstock laws of the 1870s.

    Contraception is not some newfangled fad foisted by the cultural elite on decent God-fearing folk. Americans have striven to separate sex from reproduction for more than two centuries. Today 99%of women have used birth control at some point. It is lifesaving and health-preserving medicine. And yet the myth that birth control is 'controversial' persists.

    How many women does it take to equal one bishop? doclink

    U.S.: A Political History of Contraception: When the Catholic Church Nearly Approved the Pill

    February 26, 2012, Washington Post

    The battle over birth control was fought and won half a century ago. At that time, the vast majority of Americans, nearly all mainstream religious organizations and leaders in both political parties accepted contraception as beneficial to families, society and the world.

    The move toward acceptance of contraception began in the early 20th century and accelerated in the 1940s. When the Birth Control Federation of America changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Abraham Stone, medical director of the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau, explained at the time that "planned parenthood" signaled "the need for individual couples to plan their families and for nations to plan their populations."

    In 1959 President Dwight D. Eisenhower declare: "The government will not, so long as I am here, have a positive political doctrine in its program that has to do with the problem of birth control. That's not our business." But in the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy - the first Catholic US president - supported family-planning programs as part of foreign aid. Then Eisenhower came around, saying "Governments must act. . . . Failure would limit the expectations of future generations to abject poverty and suffering and bring down upon us history's condemnation."

    Thereafter, for two decades, every American president promoted contraception as an essential part of domestic and foreign policy. Even the Catholic Church considered lifting its prohibition on contraception - and almost did.

    Prior to the 1930s, the church had no official position on contraception. But on Dec. 31, 1930, Pope Pius XI issued a papal encyclical which for the first time explicitly prohibited Catholics from using contraception.

    Margaret Sanger, a daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants, protested the pope's decree; her passionate commitment to promoting birth control stemmed from watching her mother weaken and die at age 50, having given birth to 11 children. She blamed her mother's premature death on constant childbearing and lack of access to contraceptives.

    John Rock, a devout Catholic doctor - who taught at Harvard Medical School and who would become one of the leading clinical researchers responsible for developing the pill - also opposed the ban. Besides being medically necessary at times, he said it was personally desirable for maintaining happy marriages and well-planned families and essential for those who could not afford many children. In the 1940s, Rock promoted diaphragms - even though birth control was illegal in Massachusetts.

    Rock believed church would accept the pill was a means of birth control because it simply repressed ovulation and replicated the body's hormonal condition in early pregnancy. He even wrote a book on it: "The Time Has Come: A Catholic Doctor's Proposals to End the Battle Over Birth Control."

    In 1962 Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, which resulted in a number of reforms that modernized church practices. But he died as he was putting together a committee to consider the matter of the pill. In 1964, Pope Paul appointed a commission to advise him on birth control. Many journalists, clergy and lay Catholics expected the church to lift the ban. A significant majority of its members including 60 of 64 theologians and nine of the 15 cardinals favored lifting the ban. But Pope Paul issued a formal encyclical, Humanae Vitae ("Of Human Life") in 1968, siding with the minority and reaffirming the church's prohibition of any form of artificial birth control.

    Many Catholic leaders criticized the decision. Two years after the decree, two-thirds of Catholic women were using contraception. Now, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, Catholic women use birth control at the same rate as non-Catholic women.

    In 1984, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the United States sent two opponents of abortion rights to a United Nations conference on population in Mexico City. These delegates established the Mexico City Policy, a global gag rule that refused U.S. government support to any agency, American or foreign, that used its own funds to support abortion services. Such facilities were prohibited from receiving any U.S. funds for family planning, even if the money would not be used for abortion-related services.

    It was after this that bipartisan support for contraception began to crumble.

    The Mexico City Policy was rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton, reinstated by Republican George W. Bush, and rescinded by Democratic President Barack Obama.

    Now, even though more than 99% of sexually experienced women report having used contraception, we are once again debating whether women should have access to birth control. doclink

    Condoms, STDs

    Birth Control Condom Campaign to Begin in Conservative Afghanistan

    May 03, 2004, Agence France Presse

    Population Services International (PSI) has begun to distribute in Afghanistan about 1.6 million 'Number One' condoms at the price of one Afghani (2 US cents). The project has been a success, but they face their biggest challenge when they begin a public awareness campaign. 400,000 condoms have been sold in four months but because of the cultural context they adopt an approach not to offend Afghan sensitivities. Prophylactics are available but little used and always hidden. The PSI condoms will be sold in navy packs of three with bright yellow writing devoid of sexual references. It has been difficult to translate the instructions and to design packaging which doesn't shock - for example, to use a diagram to illustrate how to put on a condom or to translate into local languages instructions issued with condoms in Western countries. PSI abandoned their slogan "Have a smaller family" as unsuitable where a woman is expected to have five or six babies. "Have a more comfortable life, make your family Number One" will be used instead. Financed by the US, the 5 million dollar programme plans to distribute female contraceptives, the pill, water purification and anti-mosquito products. With few cases of HIV/AIDS, the promotion of condoms is to encourage couples to space their children and fight against Afghanistan's maternal mortality rate, one of the highest in the world. doclink

    Condoms in India Find New Life as Sari Cleaners, Highway Surfaces: Only One-Quarter of Health Devices Were 'Properly Utilized,' Health Workers Say

    August 13, 2004, Daily Telegraph

    Only 25% of more than one billion free condoms manufactured annually in India were used to combat AIDS and a soaring population. Health workers said millions were melted down and made into toys, or sold as balloons. Villagers used them as water containers to wash, after relieving themselves in the fields. India's soldiers covered their gun barrels as protection against dust. Of the 891 million condoms to be handed out, many were acquired by road contractors who mixed them with concrete and tar that renders road surfaces smooth and resistant to cracks. A large number of condoms was used to waterproof roofs. Weavers used 200,000 condoms daily to lubricate looms and to polish the gold and silver thread used to embroider saris. Condoms were purchased in bulk from agents, who acquired them from agencies in family planning and AIDS prevention. The government began distributing free condoms in the 1960s. The country's population stood at about one billion on March 1, 2001, and is forecast to reach 1.5 billion by 2035. doclink

    Condoms: Extra Protection

    January 24, 2005, Consumer Reports

    Condoms remain the only method that also can help prevent HIV that infects 110 Americans each day, at least half under 25. Concerns have evolved over older sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea, because they have become resistant to the drugs used to treat them. The study evaluated 23 kinds of latex condoms and two types made of polyurethane, marketed to people allergic to latex. All latex condoms passed minimum standards but none exist for polyurethane. We found no correlation between performance and price, thickness, or the country of manufacture. Condoms are tested by inflating them until they burst and the best had no premature breakage among the 120 samples tested for each model and also averaged at least 38 liters of air. The worst broke 18 of 120 times below 25 liters. Most models met standards for length and thickness but Durex Extra Sensitive, Durex Performax, larger-size versions of TheyFit, and Trojan Magnum slightly exceeded the maximum width. There's no reason to choose spermicidal condoms as they have no benefit in preventing pregnancy, have a shorter shelf life, and may cause urinary-tract infections in young women. Nonoxynol-9 came under scrutiny when a report from the WHO warned that if used frequently, it may cause vaginal irritation and increase the risk of HIV. Some condom makers have dropped models with nonoxynol-9. In our tests, condoms labeled "ultra thin" lived up to that claim. TheyFit condoms come in 55 sizes. The Inspiral Lubricated has a raised, wraparound “seashell" tip. Two condoms had a “desensitizing" lubricant containing benzocaine to delay orgasm; another a lubricant to “warm" on contact with body fluids. Any of the top-rated latex condoms offer the best protection. Don't use condoms past their expiration date, never reuse a condom and store in a cool, dry place. Open the packet with care and use only water-based lubricants, such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly. If you're allergic to latex buy condoms made from a synthetic material such as polyurethane; lambskin is too porous to prevent disease. For plain-language instructions on using a condom, use the Web site doclink

    Don't Be Fooled: Not All Condoms Created Equally

    May 10, 2005, Miami Herald

    There is a difference in the quality of condoms. Latex condoms are slightly more reliable than polyurethane. Always choose a well-known name brand and in the US, condoms should be FDA approved. Thinner condoms increase sensitivity, but may be more susceptible to breakage. Be aware that the use of oil-based lubricants break down latex condoms and place you at risk for breaks that can increase your risk for pregnancy and STDs. Use only water-based lubricants. Condoms work better when they are worn, not when they're in your wallet. They won't protect other parts of your body from infection that are exposed to sexual secretions - i.e. oral sex. The stakes are high to protect yourself from an environment that could potentially harbor infectious diseases like chlamydia, HPV, syphilis, herpes, genital warts and HIV. So, keep your head on straight in the heat of the moment and always remember, "no glove, no love." doclink

    New British Condom Boosts Erection, Prevents Slippage

    May 16, 2005, Deutche Presse-Agentur (Germany)

    The "condom safety device" was designed by scientists at Futura Medical in England and is expected on the market within 18 months. Around 2% of condoms slip off because men don't maintain a full erection during intercourse, resulting in unwanted pregnancies and risk of sexually transmitted infections. Around 13 billion are sold each year. The new product, named CSD500, is impregnated with a chemical in its teat, called glyceryl trinitrate (GTN), which is absorbed through the skin and causes the blood vessels in the penis to dilate. Viagra works in a similar way, but the condom was meant for men who do not suffer from impotence. Sexually healthy men can be unable to maintain an erection while wearing a condom because of the loss of sensation. The company found that 88% of condom users would buy an erection-boosting condom, and half of men who do not use prophylactics would consider doing so if it helped their erections. Futura Medical had to ensure the effect of the condom was not too strong, which might have made gaining approval more difficult. The company is developing a more powerful version for treating impotence. doclink

    Condoms and Toothpaste

    May 29, 2005, Palo Alto Medical Foundation

    Condoms should be viewed as ordinary as toothpaste, says Adam Glickman, owner of the Condomania stores. "People have gotten past asking, 'Isn't brushing my teeth every morning a hassle?'". Abstaining from sex is the only foolproof protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) and unwanted pregnancies. But for those who choose to have sex with someone who has a chance of being infected, using a latex condom significantly reduces the risk of STD's. The Food & Drug Administration has also approved two alternatives to the latex condoms: the polyurethane condom, for those who may be allergic to latex, and the female condom.

    Millions of Americans are infected with STD's every year and thousands become seriously ill or die. In one national survey, it was found that only 17% of adult heterosexuals with multiple sex partners regularly use condoms, greatly increasing their exposure to STD's. The bottom line in protection seems to be: Abstain! Stick with one partner! Use a latex condom and learn to use it corrrectly! doclink

    U.S.: F.D.A. Reports Reduced Risks With Condoms

    November 11, 2005, New York Times*

    The FDA said found that latex condoms are "highly effective" at preventing infection by H.I.V., gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and hepatitis B. Condoms seem to be less effective against genital herpes, human papillomavirus, syphilis and chancroid because lesions from these diseases may appear on skin not covered by condoms. Still, condoms provide protection against each of these diseases and the typical pregnancy rate after six months' reliance on condoms is 5.4% to 7.9%. Senator Tom Coburn, who sponsored the report, criticized its contents as the latest example where the agency has provided inaccurate information about condoms. Mr. Coburn claims that condom labels provide exaggerated reassurance that condoms protect against sexually transmitted disease. Mr. Coburn complained that the agency overstated condoms' protection against the virus that causes cervical cancer. The report discusses the risks and benefits of condoms that use as a lubricant the spermicide Nonoxynol-9. Studies suggest this may increase the risks of infection by sexually transmitted diseases because it irritates vaginal and anal skin. The report dealt only with latex condoms. doclink

    Demand for Condoms on the Rise in Kashmir

    January 09, 2006

    Demand for condoms in Muslim- majority Indian Kashmir has outstripped supply. The government has sent a letter to the federal Health Ministry seeking fresh supplies. Kashmir's Family Welfare Department, which distributes condoms for free, had been forced to turn away condom- seekers, the official said. Despite the fact that Islam forbids the use of contraceptives, the demand for condoms in Kashmir has risen significantly. The wellfare department distributed about 1,1-million condoms in 2002, 1,8-million in 2003 and 2,6-million in 2004. Last year's figure outstripped that of the previous year. Pharmacist Altaf Ahmed said condom sales were increasing every year. Most of those buying condoms, he added, were shy Kashmiris who reluctantly asked: "Can we have a pack of protection?" doclink

    Natural Birth Control and Religious Alternatives

    FDA Clears New Saliva-based Test for Determining Ovulation

    August 16, 2003, TCI Optics - Diagnostics & Imaging Update

    TCI Optics is introducing a saliva-based test, called OvuLook to determine when women are ovulating and improve their chances of getting pregnant. The test is a reusable mini-microscope no bigger than a compact. The woman places a drop of saliva onto the device, lets it dry and pushes a button. A light stays on for 45 seconds to see the results. The OvuLook tells when ovulation is nearing which is important as a women's egg only survives 24 hours. The "ferning" pattern that appears on the device allows a women to accurately pinpoint ovulation. OvuLook is the first device of its kind to receive clearance from the FDA. Other devices which test saliva have been approved by the FDA, but with them women can't save their results to detect patterns in their cycles. TCI Optics has improvements to make based on feedback from women, before introducing the product commercially. In trials, the results showed 98% accuracy. The product will be manufactured in the Czech Republic and will be on sale in 30 to 45 days. doclink

    Natural Family Planning Aid Cycle Beads

    December 11, 2003, Wall Street Journal

    The Wall Street Journal profiled CycleBeads, an inexpensive aid for natural family planning. The device consists of a ring of color-coded beads, each representing one day in a woman's menstrual cycle. A woman considers herself able to become pregnant on days 8 through 19, requiring a 12-day period of abstinence or a method of birth control. The device can be used only by women with regular menstrual cycles between 26 and 32 days. This method had a first-year pregnancy rate comparable to condoms, spermicides or diaphragms. doclink

    Australia: Birth Control Experts Cast Doubts on Updated Rhythm Method

    April 11, 2004, The Age

    Creators of a new rhythm contraception say it is reliable, but Australian experts are not enthusiastic. Researchers at Georgetown University in the US call their version the Standard Days method. A computer model based on 7500 menstrual cycles compiled by the WHO, identified a 12-day window when a woman can become pregnant. For example, a woman who has sex on the Tuesday before the Saturday she ovulates has only a slight chance of becoming pregnant. On the Wednesday that chance is greater and so on until the Sunday after she ovulates, when she has little chance of becoming pregnant. It will work only with women whose cycles are reliably 26-32 days long which accounts for 80% of the population. The Standard Days method comes with a set of beads that allows women to chart their cycle. On day one a band is placed around the first bead and each day is moved one bead until it reaches the first of 12 white beads, which are the days the woman is fertile. In Australia, the oral contraceptive pill is the primary method of birth control, but 3% practise abstinence. Trials have shown the Standard Days' failure rate is 5% if used perfectly, but it doesn't come near other forms of contraception. The pill has a failure rate of 5% in the first year but 1% in perfect use. Condoms 14% in the first year, but 3% when used properly. But unless women are in a stable long-term, monogamous relationship, they should use condoms to protect them from sexually transmitted diseases. The rhythm method is gaining appeal, with more than 100,000 women using it but condoms are promoted in developing countries because of AIDS, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Western family planning groups are increasingly offering the Standard Method as an alternative for women wanting hormone-free, non-invasive birth control. doclink

    Workshop on Fertility Awareness Concludes

    April 18, 2004, The Hindu

    Participants at a two-day workshop evolved an action plan to create awareness regarding the natural method of family planning. Population has to be stabilised and the programme is to create awareness regarding the menstrual cycle of women and the fertile and non-fertile days. The target groups are couples who want to delay the first child and for spacing the second child. Coloured beads provided by the programme help women keep track of their menstrual cycle. A woman who has regular cycles between 26-32 days, the fertile period of 12 days starts from the 8th day of starting the menstrual flow to the 19th day. The method can also be used for couples who are planning to have a child. In the slum where the plan was introduced, there was an improvement in interpersonal communication between the man and woman. doclink

    Pakistan: Clerics Express Reservations on Use of Contraceptives

    June 01, 2005, Daily Times

    Clerics have expressed reservation on the use of contraceptives as they restrict reproduction and conflict with Islamic injunctions. Some clerics have called for separating married HIV patients from their spouses although NACP officials said it would be a social boycott of infected people. Sources said the clerics were not impressed by the NACP standpoint. Clerics said if a person committed ‘adultery' and was infected with the virus, he/she did not have the right to deceive his/her family and there were no guarantees that using contraceptives would avoid transmitting the disease. NACP observed that it was difficult to determine whether an individual was infected through sexual intercourse, a contaminated syringe or unscreened blood. The NACP prepared an information kit for the clerics, which covered HIV among young people, the diseases transfer from mother to child and HIV reduction measures. The text was revised to suit Islamic ideologies and by taking into consideration Pakistan's unique characteristics. doclink

    Philippines: Church Will Take Pill to Supreme Court

    April 02, 2005, Standard, The

    In an effort to block passage of a bill on reproductive health, Church supporters in the Phillapines will petition the Supreme Court to rule on whether contraceptives such as IUD and the Pill induce abortion. If they are abortion-inducing materials and chemicals, and since abortion is illegal, these contraceptives will be banned. Foreign companies who are distributing pills and other chemicals and materials will be named respondents. Businessmen said they support the move to consult the Supreme Court and propose to conduct a massive information campaign on the merits of the natural family planning method. Bishop Antonio Ledesma said about 600 couples in his 19 parishes practice natural methods. He supports the move to ask the Supreme Court to settle the abortion question and showed journalists rosary-like beads used in the Standard Days method to tell a woman's fertile and nonfertile days. doclink

    Rise in Use of Natural Planning

    April 26, 2005, BusinessWorld (Philippines)

    The use of natural family planning methods among Filipinos has increased despite accusations that the government is pushing for artificial family planning methods with its acceptance of millions in contraceptive donations from foreign sources. About 300,000 couples were surveyed in a door-to-door campaign and the number opting to use natural family planning methods had risen to 18% from only 0.9% in 2003. This proved the Government was not pushing for only one type of family planning method. doclink

    Help Reduce Child Mortality Through Breastfeeding, Mothers Urged

    May 29, 2005, Ghana Web

    The Breastfeeding Promotion Committee has stressed the need for lactating mothers to adopt the exclusive breastfeeding policy to reduce under-five mortality rate. The WHO survey on Ghana showed that exclusive breast feeding for six months reduced under five mortality by 13%. Exclusive breast feeding was the surest way for reducing infant mortality and underscored the need for the policy to be enforced against the violation of the practice. The 2003 report on Ghana's infant and child mortality indicated a slowing of the mortality rate. Studies showed that for babies born to HIV-infected mothers, the use of niverapine combined with baby formulas to prevent mother-to-child transmission, could reduce child mortality to only 2% while the use of insecticide-treated bed nets could reduce it by 6%. Statistics showed that the infant mortality rate for children under-one was soaring because of mixed feeding with baby formulas. Exclusive breastfeeding in fighting mortality in children has become a serious issue and called for stringent measures in enforcing the ban on baby food companies to stop the promotion of their products to ensure that breastfeeding was practiced. doclink


    India: Achieving Family Planning Goals with 'Cycle Beads'

    September 20, 2005, Press Trust of India

    What the 'nasbandi' of the 70's and the family planning drives could not achieve, doctors are trying to accomplish through a simple colour-coded set of beads. Called the Standard Days Method (SDM), it uses colour beads to identify fertile and non-fertile days and plan spacing between pregnancies. The method has been developed by American researchers and is being used in nearly 25 countries. In a country like India, where 78% of pregnancies are unplanned and nearly 25% unwanted, it can serve as an inexpensive, and 95% per cent effective method of preventing pregnancy. The Indian government has included it in the Reproductive Child Health programme for expanding contraceptive choices and this simple, method should be made widely accessible. doclink

    Delay 'Sexual Debut' - Study: Teen Abstinence; 'Did Not Reduce Plans to Use Condoms'

    August 15, 2006, CanWest News Service

    Abstinence-only programs can reduce sexual activity among teens and delay their "sexual debut." A study of 662 African-American Grade 6 and 7 students from found that those taught abstinence-only were less likely to have had sexual intercourse 24 months later. Abstinence programs delay sexual debut and make teens more likely to use condoms when they do start having sex. It did not reduce intentions to use condoms, reduce beliefs about the efficacy of condoms, or decrease consistent condom use. The youngsters in the study ranged from 10 to 15; half were girls; 23% said they had sexual intercourse at least once before the study began.

    The study compared abstinence-only with those put through a "safer sex" intervention that emphasized frequent condom use but makes no mention of abstinence.

    Planned Parenthood has called the approach a challenge to the nation's sexual health. The Bush administration has promoted abstinence as prevention, a policy critics say ends up discouraging condom use.

    But there is no logical reason that an abstinence intervention cannot be effective.

    The abstinence intervention in this study promoted abstinence from vaginal, anal and oral sex until a youth would be able to handle the consequences of a sexual relationship. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: What did it prove? Apparently the study failed to compare abstinence-only with programs that advised abstinence but taught safe sex just in case teens were already sexually active.

    Child Free

    The Childless Revolution

    March 04, 2004, NPR

    From the NPR show with Dick Gordon (audio stream broadcast): Imagine restaurants with no crying children, adult-only neighborhoods, a museum with no kids. These are some of the ideas that a new group is advocating. They call themselves THINKERS - T-H-I-N-K-E-R - Two Healthy Incomes No Kids Early Retirement. They're tired of being discriminated against, and inconvenienced by a society obsessed with children. They're fed up with parking spaces reserved for pregnant moms, time off work for parents, and unequal expectations at the office. With baby boomers nearing retirement, and fewer households having kids, this movement is rephrasing old questions about a woman and a man's right to choose. doclink

    Germany: Childless Couple Told to Try Sex

    May 25, 2004, Ananova

    A German couple went to a fertility clinic after 8 years of marriage and found they are childless because they weren't having sex. Doctors found they were both fertile, and should have had no trouble conceiving. When asked how often they had had sex, they said: 'What do you mean?'" They were brought up in a religious environment and were unaware of the physical requirements necessary to procreate. doclink

    U.S.: The Only Child Stigma is Fading; More Families Are Opting to Have Just One

    May 15, 2005, Houston Chronicle

    For generations, only children and their parents have gotten a bad rap. But research suggests only children tend to be higher achievers, they get along with their peers, they aren't spoiled or lonely or aloof. From 2003, about 20% of U.S. children under 18 had no siblings at home. The country's birth rate has been deflating since 1960. A greater proportion of women have their first children at later ages. With couples delaying marriage and childbirth and mothers remaining in the workforce, single-child families are becoming more common. doclink

    Infertility in Europe May Double

    June 21, 2005, UPI

    Infertility could double in Europe over the next decade, with obesity and sex infections adding to the problem. One in seven couples has trouble conceiving, but this could rise to one in three. Women should be offered career breaks so they could have children younger, when they are more fertile and the rise in obesity is contributing to infertility. The rise in sexually transmitted infections was likely to mean more teenage girls would suffer from blocked fallopian tubes and when these young women want to become mothers, they find they can't conceive. Both the quality and quantity of sperm appeared to be in decline. The sustainability of the population of Europe is at risk because there are too few children being born. doclink

    If women wait until 35 then perhaps they are not highly motivated to have children. There are plenty being born elsewhere and Europe's lifestyle is not sustainable.

    Meet the Women Who Won't Have Babies - Because They're Not Eco Friendly

    November 21, 2007, Daily Mail

    When Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet.

    At 27 this young woman was sterilised to "protect the planet".

    Her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card.

    Toni says "Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet. Every person uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

    Nothing in Toni's upbringing gave any clues as to the views which would shape her adult life. "No sooner had we finished our wedding cake than all our relatives started to ask when they could expect a new addition to the family.

    "When I was a child, I developed a passion for the environment - I became a vegetarian when I was 15. The only person who understood how I felt was my first husband, who didn't want children either. We both wanted to save the planet - not add to the problem."

    "I'd been on the Pill for five years and didn't want to take hormone-based contraception indefinitely.

    "My GP said I was far too young to be sterilised, and that I was bound to change my mind one day.

    "We decided my husband would have a vasectomy instead. He was 25, but the GP allowed him to go ahead.

    "I found it insulting that she thought that, just because I was a woman, I'd reach a point where an urge to breed would overcome all rational thought."

    "Through my job I made many friends who, like me, were more interested in trying to change society and save the planet rather than having families of our own.

    "We used to say that if ever we did want children, we'd adopt, as there are so many children in need of a loving family.

    But when she was 25, she discovered that despite taking the Pill, she had fallen pregnant by her boyfriend.

    "I went to my doctor about having a termination, and asked if I could be sterilised at the same time.

    "This time it was a male doctor. He said: 'You may not want a child, but one day you may meet a man who does'. He refused to consider it.

    "After my abortion, I was more determined than ever to pursue sterilisation. I had my mother's support - she realised I wasn't going to grow out of my beliefs.

    At 27, Toni moved to Brighton, where her dream of medical intervention was realised.

    As Toni awaited the surgery which would destroy her fertility, she met her future husband, Ed, 38. "I liked him immediately, and I told him what I was doing because if he wanted children then he needed to know I wasn't the woman for him."

    "But Ed didn't want children for the same reasons."

    Ed and I married in September 2002, and have a much nicer lifestyle as a result of not having children.

    "My only frustration is that other people are unable to accept my decision.

    "What I consider mad are those women who ferry their children short distances in gas-guzzling cars." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I am not advocating that everyone remain childless. There are some people that want zero children, and some that want three. It all works out when women have choices and education.

    9 Silly Things People Say When They Hear You Don't Want Kids (and Ways to Counter Them)

    November 10, 2009, Alternet

    This is a cute article which is best to read the whole thing. Follow the link in the headline if interested. doclink

    U.S.: How Green Are the ‘Childless by Choice’?

    May 17, 2010, Grist online magazine

    Follow the headline link for an interview with author of the book "Two Is Enough", Laura S. Scott, who has surveyed and interviewed more than 170 people for her Childless by Choice Project. "I'm keenly interested in the process of decision-making," she says. "How do we get from assuming parenthood for ourselves to the point where we're saying, ‘No kids, thank you!'?" doclink

    Why Pope Francis is Wrong About My Child-Free Life

    The pope may pooh-pooh the decision to remain childless, but the world needs more people who choose pets over kids.
    June 06, 2014, Daily Beast   By: Amanda Marcotte

    Pope Francis recently said: "This culture of well-being from 10 years ago convinced us: It's better not to have children! It's better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free." ... "Maybe it is better, more convenient, to have a little dog, two cats; and the love goes to the two cats and the little dog."

    “Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness."

    The author's first instinct was to think, “If you think having children is so important, then why don't you go first?" But the question of whether or not having kids makes marriages happier or not is one that has been looked at again and again. Childless couples have happier marriages, on average.

    Studies show that a marriage starts to decline rapidly when you have your first baby, goes up and down with the stresses of child-rearing, but it stays relatively low, only rising again after the kids move out of the house.

    After surveying people ages 50 to 84, researchers found no difference in the loneliness rates of people with children and people without children. Relying on a phone call a week from your kids is hardly a panacea for loneliness. Non-lonely seniors are usually the ones with plenty of friends, and being able to make friends isn't dependent on your status as a parent or not.

    Parents do tend to rate their work as highly rewarding. For those who want it, trading off daily happiness for the sense of satisfaction that comes from raising a child is usually worth it. And if having a child is the right choice for you, there's no reason to have your friends validate it by having kids of their own, regardless of what's best for them.

    The pope should have been considerate of those who want very badly to be parents but, because of infertility, aren't able to. Hearing the pope claim that childless couples are doomed to misery, loneliness and broken marriages could cause them a lot of needless dread and heartache.

    Society would benefit strongly if more people felt that childlessness was a legitimate life option.

    Children don't benefit from being raised by parents who went into parenthood ambivalent about the whole endeavor and feeling like they had to do it for no other reason but to conform to social expectations (or the pope's scolding).

    What the planet probably needs now is more people picking the childless lifestyle. The low estimate for expected population levels by 2050 is 9.3 billion and may be as high as 11 billion. “Under either forecast, scientists say, living conditions are likely to be bleak for much of humanity," writes Kenneth Weiss.

    And if you're feeling like being one of those “carefree" people whose “love goes to the two cats and the little dog," don't let Pope Francis make you feel bad. The world needs more people like you. doclink

    Ancient Alternatives

    India: Birth Control Goes Herbal

    September 28, 2003, London Sunday Telegraph

    Indian scientists are developing the first effective and safe herbal contraceptive pill from a 2,500-year-old medical text. The ingredients are false pepper (embelia ribes) and long pepper (piper longum) mixed with borax. It is to undergo trials on humans, and could be on the market in two to three years. In the ancient world, Europeans used herbal contraceptives. One, a plant, silphium, was over-harvested and became extinct. In its modern form, the herbal contraceptive (pippalyadi yoga) would be taken as a daily pill for three weeks each month to inhibit ovulation. Dozens of plants are mentioned in India's ancient medical texts as preventing pregnancy, including Chinese hibiscus (hibiscus rosa sinensis), a small tree native to southern India. Developing an effective and safe herbal female contraceptive would be a coup for India. With a population in excess of one billion, only 2% of females use the modern contraceptive pill. No natural birth-control products have met the standards in clinical trials and herbal products can also have harmful side-effects. Chinese scientists developed a male contraceptive pill based on the seed of the cotton plant, trials showed it lowered men's sperm but also diminished libido. doclink

    India: Birth Control Goes Herbal

    September 28, 2003, London Sunday Telegraph

    Indian scientists are developing the first effective and safe herbal contraceptive pill from a 2,500-year-old medical text. The ingredients are false pepper (embelia ribes) and long pepper (piper longum) mixed with borax. It is to undergo trials on humans, and could be on the market in two to three years. In the ancient world, Europeans used herbal contraceptives. One, a plant, silphium, was over-harvested and became extinct. In its modern form, the herbal contraceptive (pippalyadi yoga) would be taken as a daily pill for three weeks each month to inhibit ovulation. Dozens of plants are mentioned in India's ancient medical texts as preventing pregnancy, including Chinese hibiscus (hibiscus rosa sinensis), a small tree native to southern India. Developing an effective and safe herbal female contraceptive would be a coup for India. With a population in excess of one billion, only 2% of females use the modern contraceptive pill. No natural birth-control products have met the standards in clinical trials and herbal products can also have harmful side-effects. Chinese scientists developed a male contraceptive pill based on the seed of the cotton plant, trials showed it lowered men's sperm but also diminished libido. doclink

    Canada: Museum Puts Contraception on Display

    December 05, 2004, The Plain Dealer

    The History of Contraception Museum is the latest addition to the Dittrick Medical History Center at Case Western Reserve University. In ancient Egypt, crocodile dung was employed as a suppository before intercourse. Beaver-testicle tea was brewed by Canadian women. The collection includes some 350 intrauterine devices. The items were largely donated by medical professionals and family planning services. Dittrick is a museum and library dedicated to medical history. James Edmonson, Dittrick's chief curator, said the History of Contraception Museum "embodies social history, ethical issues, medical concerns and womens' issues. The collection also has 150 reference books. The collection shows that people have been imagining means of conception for more than 2,000 years. doclink

    Mule's Earwax Just Part of New Case Collection; History of Contraception Has More Than 650 Items

    December 07, 2004, Plain Dealer

    The History of Contraception Museum, at Case Western Reserve University presents the only collection of its kind in the world, representing the practices and products to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Exhibits go back to ancient Egypt where crocodile dung was employed as a suppository prior to intercourse, and the first-ever prescriptions for a contraceptive device (a medicated tampon). Folklore preventatives include beaver-testicle tea, weasel testicles tied to a woman's thigh, and elephant dung. There are displays of intrauterine devices and cervical caps. Condoms stretch from artistic to desperate (candy bar wrappers), not far from the corked, tubed and rubber-balled douches. The items were largely donated by medical professionals and family-planning services, or are re-creations of devices such as the amulet of mule's earwax. The Museum embodies social history, ethical issues, medical concerns and women's issues. People have been trying to devise ways to prevent conception for more than 2,000 years and transcends religions and cultures. doclink

    The Awkward History of Americans Talking About Contraception

    August 23, 2012, Atlantic Monthly

    The ACLU announced that a California school district is being sued by parents and students over its abstinence-only sex education program. Among other affronts to the concept of comprehensive sex education, the program's textbooks do not mention condoms, even in the chapters on protecting oneself from STIs and unintended pregnancy.

    Manufacturers, health officials, and the public have found numerous ways to talk about contraception without really having to talk about it. Condoms were marketed as "sheaths, skins, shields, capotes, and 'rubber goods' for the 'gents.' Many companies emphasized testosterone-fueled virility with names like Spartans or Trojans.

    In 1873 the Comstock Act criminalized any and all forms of contraception and euphemisms became a legal necessity. But by World War I, because of an emerging knowledge of communicable disease, particularly venereal disease, condoms began to build their reputation as prophylactics -- and that form of contraception became understood as a public health issue. That was the point where "protection," "safety," and other words with health implications became common.

    The term "birth control" entered the lexicon in 1914, when it was coined by Margaret Sanger, a controversial hero in the field of reproductive rights. By "birth control," Sanger meant to put words to the idea of "voluntary, conscious control of the birth rate by means that prevent conception."

    Although the health of women and children were also a priority, a lot of what Sanger and her followers were talking about when they referred to "birth control" is deeply disturbing by today's standards: they believed that certain populations -- specifically minorities and the poor -- should be kept from proliferating. Considering its strong eugenic undertones, it's surprising that the term is still so widely used.

    On the upside, the introduction of the idea of birth control heralded a new era of talking openly about contraception. In a 1923 editorial for the New York Times, Sanger praised a bill that would allow doctors to discuss contraception with their patients:

    In the 1940s, Planned Parenthood introduced the term "family planning" as a less radical way of talking about birth control. Turned intimate, the new discourse concerned a woman's right to sexual expression and to control over her body. In 1971 the Boston Women's Health Collective published When Our Bodies, Ourselves, with this in its preface:

    "This knowledge has freed many of us from the constant energy-draining anxiety about becoming pregnant. It has made our pregnancies better because they no longer happen to us, but we actively choose them and enthusiastically participate in them. It has made our parenthood better because it is our choice rather than our destiny. This knowledge has freed us from playing the role of mother if it is not a role that fits us. It has given us a sense of a larger life space to work in, an invigorating and challenging sense of time and room to discover the energies and talents that are in us, to do the work we want to do. And one of the things we most want to do is to help make this freedom of choice, this life span, available to every woman."

    In 1965, the Supreme Court made contraception legal for married couples; in 1972, it made access possible for single people as well. Women's health had taken on new meaning in 1960, when the pharmaceutical product was approved by the FDA as a form of oral birth control. By 20 years after it was first developed, 30 million women worldwide, including 10 million in the U.S., were on the Pill, allowing it to become a way of life.

    As of last year, birth control is considered preventive care, required by Department of Health and Human Services to be covered by private insurers. And the U.S. government characterizes its family planning services, aided by Title X, as "educational, comprehensive medical or social activities which enable individuals, including minors, to determine freely the number and spacing of their children and to select the means by which this may be achieved." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the claim that Sanger "believed that certain populations -- specifically minorities and the poor -- should be kept from proliferating" is disputed by Planned Parenthood. The term 'birth control' is familiar to couples who used it in the 1960s and beyond as a synonym for contraception. There was never any understanding that eugenics was involved, considering the huge benefits contraception gave to women: education, ability to have a career, more leisure time, healthier families - few women would want to do without.


    Fertility and Economic Growth in Bangladesh

    February 2013, Population Reference Bureau blog

    While the average family in Bangladesh today has about four children fewer than their parents' generation, that family has about six times the purchasing power. This PRB ENGAGE Mini-Presentation examines how fertility and income have changed in Bangladesh, and highlights the role that family planning can play in helping families achieve higher levels of education and in accumulating more wealth.


    Ireland: Thrills and pills: exploding the myths about contraception for over-40s

    February 19, 2013, Irish Times   By: Ella Pickover

    Older and wiser you may be, but you can still get caught out by an unexpected pregnancy Getting pregnant young might have seemed like the worst thing that could happen, but an unexpected pregnancy when older fills many with equal dread. Whether you've decided your family is complete or you don't want children at all, what is the best contraceptive for you as you age? One myth is that it's unhealthy for women over 40 to remain on the pill, says ... doclink

    U.S.: How to Find Out If and When Your Health Plan Will Begin Covering Women's Preventive Services with No Co-Pay

    August 30, 2012, Center for Reproductive Rights

    If your plan is not grandfathered*, your health plan should be providing coverage for women's preventive services with no cost-sharing in the next plan year. Call your insurance plan to find out when you'll begin receiving coverage for women's preventive services without cost sharing and how these services will be covered.

    We have provided a phone script for you to use when talking to your insurance plan. (Be aware that if your next plan year is more than 30 days away, your plan may not know the details of the new coverage. You may need to call them back closer to the first day of the new plan year.)

    http for the complete set of these very helpful instructions. doclink

    Who Guidance Confirms Safety of Hormonal Contraception for Women at Risk of HIV Or Living with HIV

    February 17, 2012, EngenderHealth News Blog

    A recent meeting of multidisciplinary experts, organized by WHO in Geneva, assessed available evidence on the use of hormonal contraceptives and HIV and concluded that women, including those at risk of or living with HIV, can safely continue to use hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.

    EngenderHealth, with 70 years of experience in ensuring clients' rights and improving access to quality family planning and reproductive health services, supports the WHO guidance and reccommends to its staff that no restrictions be placed on the use of hormonal contraceptives for women at risk of HIV or living with HIV. There is insufficient evidence of an association between hormonal contraceptive use and HIV risk to warrant any change in this guidance, but they strongly advise women at high risk of HIV who are using progestogen-only injectables to use condoms and other HIV preventive measures. Furthermore, WHO stresses the need for women and couples to have access to a wide range of contraceptive methods and for further research on the relationship between hormonal contraception and HIV to be undertaken.

    Women living in places hit hardest by HIV and AIDS—they are at higher risk of contracting HIV and of dying from a pregnancy-related condition.

    Because the possibility of a link between hormonal contraceptives and HIV was widely covered in the media worldwide, women must be assured that their method of choice does not put them at undue risk of HIV—and that not using contraception poses the risk of an unplanned pregnancy, which carries another set of potential dangers. Access to hormonal contraceptives must continue to preserve women's health and well-being.

    The ability for individuals to make informed choices and voluntary decisions, not only about family planning, but about all aspects of sexual and reproductive health, is a fundamental principle rooted in human rights and underpinning quality care. It means that a wide range of contraceptive methods is available and accessible—including long-acting and permanent options—and that women and couples are counseled about the known risks and benefits of each method.

    Engaging men on the importance of sharing responsibilities for family planning and reproductive health—including encouraging them to use condoms for dual protection and to access health care services, including getting tested for HIV—is essential for preventing HIV infection and maintaining strong reproductive health.

    Because some 50-85% of women living with HIV do not want to become pregnant, access to voluntary, affordable, and appropriate contraceptive information and services can help women avoid unintended pregnancies and associated health risks, including the risk of vertical transmission.

    Women must have a wide choice of family planning methods - when a woman's method of choice is unavailable, she is more likely to forgo contraception altogether. Many modern methods of contraception, including long-acting and permanent methods (LA/PMs), such as the intrauterine device (IUD), are vastly underutilized in Africa, even though women and couples who have decided to space and/or limit their families could benefit greatly from using them. doclink

    Costs and Net Health Effects of Contraceptive Methods

    June 2004, Contraception Jounal

    The net impact of contraception on women's health has not been reported previously. An analysis compared 13 methods of contraception to nonuse of contraception with respect to healthcare costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). The analysis applies to women of average health and fertility, from 15 to 50 years old, sexually active in a monogamous relationship. Compared with no contraception, contraceptive methods of all types result in cost savings over 2 years, ranging from US$5907 for tubal sterilization to US$9936 for vasectomy and health gains ranging from 0.088 QALYs for diaphragm to 0.147 QALYs for depot medroxyprogesterone acetate. Even in 1 year, any method other than sterilization results in financial savings and health gains. Every method of contraception dominates non use. Increasing the use of more effective methods will improve health and reduce costs. Methods that require action by the user less frequently than daily are both less costly and more effective than methods requiring action on a daily basis. doclink

    U.S. Health Advisers Recommend Against Setting Failure Limits on Birth Control Pills

    January 24, 2007, Associated Press

    Lower-dose pills are less effective at preventing pregnancy, but offer health benefits or fewer side effects. That has split FDA on the need to define a pregnancy or failure rate that would be too high for next-generation pills. The earliest birth control pills to win approval failed just once per 100 woman-years. Newer pills contain less estrogen and progestin and reduce the risk of blood clots, stroke and other side effects. But failure rates have climbed.

    The FDA has approved pills with failure rates that exceed two pregnancies per 100 woman-years. But allowing the less pills on the market can increase the options for women and their doctors.

    Most women take the pill to prevent pregnancy, others rely on them to regulate their monthly periods.

    The FDA scheduled meetings to gather advice on guidelines that drug makers could follow in seeking approval for new hormonal contraceptives.

    The FDA is looking at how well studies done prior to approval of new birth control pills reflected their "real-world" use. The women in clinical trials are younger, skinnier and healthier than are U.S. women on average. The more clinical trials mimic real-world use, the more confident women will be that the pills both work and are safe.

    The exclusion of smokers, obese and older women from clinical trials underscores the need for follow-up studies. Nearly 12 million U.S. women were on the pill as of 2002. doclink

    Hormonal Contraception Use Does Not Increase Women's Risk of HIV Infection

    December 11, 2006, BBC News

    The use of hormonal contraception does not increase women's risk of HIV infection. A study followed about 6,000 women ages 18 to 35 in Thailand, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The women were offered birth control pills, depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate injections and condoms, and were tested for HIV four to five times a year for 15 to 24 months.

    None were HIV positive when the trial began. Two-hundred-and-thirteen participants in Africa and four participants in Thailand at the end of the study were HIV positive. No evidence was found that linked use of hormonal contraceptives to an increased risk of infection.

    The study could not exclude an increase in risk for HIV infection among women already at higher risk, such as sex workers. doclink

    U.S.: The War on Contraception

    May 7, 2006, New York Times*

    The president of the American Life League, Judie Brown, said that when a baby is conceived accidentally, a couple using contraception have this negative attitude toward the child and therefore seek an abortion. The league opposes all forms of contraception.

    Americans United for Life, see contraception and abortion as part of a mind-set that's worrisome in terms of respecting life and has to include how we think and act with regard to sexuality and contraception.

    Many Christians who are active in the anti-birth-control arena state that they want to change the way Americans have sex.

    Focus on the Family posts on its Web site: "Contraception, encourages sexual promiscuity, sexual deviance (like homosexuality) and a preoccupation with sex that is unhealthful even within marriage".

    For those who work in the public health field, and respect long-standing public health principles it's extremely disheartening to think they may be set back decades.

    There are 6.4 million pregnancies a year in the U.S., 3.1 million are unintended and 1.3 million end in abortion. If women had quick, easy access to a backup contraceptive, those rates would drop.

    At a White House press briefing Scott McClellan would not say whether Bush supported contraception. doclink

    What makes some people think that they can impose their morals and their ill-conceived notions on others? There is nothing wrong with wanting to limit family size. It is for the betterment of the family. These ultra-conservative types have a propensity for neglecting their many children - as some statistics show. Limiting family size also means a healthier family - it is anti-life to turn a woman into a brood mare until she dies giving birth, or to have children too close together. And, it is nobody's business if two consenting adults have sex - as long as they take responsibility for the consequences.