The pill kills women. Why isn’t the FDA talking about it?
If you’ve watched TV for the past week, you’ve probably seen a commercial for a novel form of birth control called Phexxi. You couldn’t miss it, starting with “Welcome to My Vagina” and starring Annie Murphy from the hugely popular, Emmy-winning Canadian sitcom “Schitt’s Creek”. As bustling Murphy struts around a cavernous pink bedroom, she promises that Phexxi is something women have always wanted: an effective, “right now,” hormone-free method of contraception.
Phexxi was authorized by the FDA over a year ago, but it wasn’t until last week that manufacturer Evofem started serious marketing of the product. With this shiny new campaign, Evofem is counting on the recently intensified search by women for non-hormonal contraceptives.
Deadly Risks and Side Effects
And it’s a good bet, as a lot of women like Annie Murphy herself, are aware of the fact that the synthetic hormones found in most birth control methods have side effects and risks that are annoying at best and dangerous at worst. In fact, many are women increasingly dissatisfied with the contraceptive options available, fed up with it Side effects like headaches, weight gain, and more. And those are just the risks and side effects that they are aware of.
Compared to women who do not take the pill or other forms of hormonal birth control, the population of women who use hormonal birth control is at an increased risk (higher prevalence rates) for the following diseases: Breast cancer (19-37 percent higher risk ), Blood clots and other cardiovascular risks (80 percent), cervical cancer (60-220 percent), broken bones (7 percent for COCs and 40 percent for progestin only), certain autoimmune diseases (Crohn’s disease: 44 percent, ulcerative colitis: 18 percent, lupus: 19-130 percent, interstitial cystitis: 131 percent), female sexual dysfunction, Depression (10 percent for COCs and 20 percent for progestin only) and even attempted suicide (97 percent) and committed suicide (208 percent). Compared to women who are not on the Depo-Provera “birth control syringe”, women on Depo have a 40-49 percent higher prevalence for. on Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Disorders (AIDs). In other words, the Depo syringe appears to make a woman more susceptible to HIV infection. (For data demonstrating all of the relative risks derived from the lead author of the Citizens’ Petition, Dr. William V. Williams, in this paragraph, see the full Citizen Petition, which is available for download here.)
In addition, there are an estimated 300 to 400 American women die every year solely from vascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke and blood clots, which are made worse by hormonal contraceptives. To put that in perspective, meningitis killed 45 people (of all ages) in 2017, and most US states mandate meningitis vaccination for college and university students (and let’s not even talk about the number of people in college -Ages for which the COVID-19 is now required vaccination, although the risk of serious illness is low).
Well, that litany of risks and side effects doesn’t sound exactly right, does it? After all, women are constantly reassured that birth control is safe and effective, and many are bluntly told by their doctors that any symptoms they experience while taking it are “on their mind” or that “the pill doesn’t” .
FDA ignores concerns about the approval of Iffy products
But 2019 did the nonprofit women’s health organization Natural femininity and a group of doctors and researchers put together over 90 pages of citizens petition to the FDA, citing the robust, scientific evidence for each of the risks listed above. They filed this petition with the FDA two years ago, calling for more transparency and evidence-based warnings about the risks of hormonal contraception in prescribing information and product information inserts.
After a cursory request for some additional information from the FDA (which was promptly provided to them by the research team), Natural Womanhood only heard crickets in response. This despite the petition collect over 150 public comments, many of them from families of young women who have died as a result of their contraception.
Women literally die for better birth control. Hence the long search for “hormone-free birth control” and why the Phexxi site is emblazoned in big, bold letters with “Hormone Free” under a confident-looking Murphy. But hormone-free Phexxi also has its complications: it is a gel that changes the vaginal pH to make it particularly inhospitable to sperm, the most commonly reported side effects are “Burning vagina, vaginal itching, vaginal yeast infection, urinary tract infection, vaginal discomfort, bacterial vaginosis and vaginal discharge.”
“Women also reported genital discomfort, painful urination and vaginal pain,” continues Phexxis Safety Information Panel. “Some male partners have reported genital discomfort.” But hey, nothing like itchy, burning genitals to get people in the mood, right?
In addition, Phexxi is around 93 percent Effective when used perfectly and about 86 percent effective with typical use, which is roughly in the same range of effectiveness as condoms. (The other popular hormone-free birth control option – the copper IUD – is 99 percent effective, but it has its own significant risks and side effects, including an uncomfortable habit of break and migrate in the female body).
What the FDA would do if it cared about women’s health
It’s interesting that the FDA decided to ignore the petition mentioned above, but has meanwhile continued to approve contraceptives such as Phexxi. Is it because they know, at an as yet undisclosed level, that women want and need safer, non-hormonal options for family planning? Or do you just want to have as many contraception products as possible on the market – damn side effects and risks?
After all, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been withdrawn from the market, at least temporarily, after it has been linked to far fewer cases of blood clots than is typical for hormonal birth control (yes, even if a woman is not a smoker or is over 35 years old is). ). Birth control, however, seems destined to remain an inviolable, permanent part of our pharmaceutical landscape, and with no transparent recognition from health authorities that it could be a potential source of myriad problems, from rising rates of Anxiety and depression in teenage girls, to ours Autoimmune epidemicto soar Breast cancer ratesjust to name a few.
If it were really important to our health authorities to give women all the options and information they need about contraception, they would be more honest about it Methods of fertility awareness (FAMs) – the only truly side-effect-free forms of effective family planning – instead of actively advising against their use and falsely defaming them as an ineffective, outdated “rhythm method”. (Incidentally, many modern FAMs so far have both perfect and typical usage rates overtake Phexxis.)
But at least the FDA should better educate women and their doctors about the evidence-based risks and side effects of hormonal birth control. Then doctors could stop Gas lighting Women think that their negative experiences with birth control are conceited.
If you want to help better protect women and be part of the movement to start a fire under the FDA when it comes to the harm from synthetic hormones, I encourage you to sign up and share with Natural Womanhood petition today.
Grace Emily Stark is the editor of Natural Womanhood. Her writing has been featured in multiple media and in 2019 she was awarded a Robert Novak Alumni Fund Journalism Fellowship. Follow Grace’s letter on GraceEmilyStark.com.