The death of a healthy young woman is always a tragedy (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/06/11/birth-control-pills-yaz-yasmin.html). Hormonal, pill-form contraceptives (The Pill) carry real risks of dying (about 1.5 deaths per 10,000 women-years of taking them). We have to put that risk into perspective, however, because the risk of dying in pregnancy is 12/10,000 woman-years of pregnancy and of a young person dying in a car crash is about 26/10,000 women-years of car rides. What is important is that there are other safe, effective contraceptive options that women are often not given:
- The copper intrauterine device-can now be worn by teens, is highly effective and safe (< 0.5/10,000 woman-years of use)
- A barrier (such as a diaphragm or condom) plus a full applicator of vaginal spermicide-no risks and similar contraceptive effectiveness to The Pill. Of course it is not effective at all if not used with every heterosexual intercourse!
I don't like hormonal forms of birth control because they disrupt women's reproductive system (as they must in order to prevent pregnancy). The consequences of the high dose estrogen (4 times higher than women's ovaries make) on women's bodies include increasing the risks for death and blood clots but also risks for stroke, gallbladder problems, decreased sexual interest and silent things like prevention of the normal teen bone gain that builds strong bones for later osteoporosis prevention.
Also, I believe that The Pill should never be used as a treatment. What? Yes, The Pill is commonly used for teenagers' absent or irregular menstruation, for cramps or heavy flow, for hot flushes and pimples. Does it work? It will bring on regular periods, but these are not normal menstrual cycles. The Pill just covers up the problem that the young woman's hormonal system is immature or that she is under a lot of stress. However, taking natural progesterone for 14 days every month "encourages" her own reproduction system to "grow up" while perceptive adults assist her in dealing with or removing her stresses.
The Pill is not effective for hot flushes and night sweats. In a Canadian study in perimenopausal women, The Pill did not decrease hot flushes more effectively than a placebo (dummy pill that looks like the real thing)! Because natural progesterone is effective for treatment of hot flushes in menopausal women (more than a year since their final flow), CeMCOR is doing a 4-month study of natural progesterone for hot flush treatment in menstruating perimenopausal women. Women from anywhere in Canada can participate from home. To learn more see http://www.cemcor.ca/hotflush-study_recruiting