Monday, February 20, 2012

Birth Control Modes of Action 101

For people who believe life begins at conception.

I'm realizing that a lot of women do not understand how hormonal birth control actually works to prevent pregnancy, and doctors are not helping the situation. When a woman who believes life begins at conception goes to the doctor for contraception, the doctor will tell her that a combined pill works to prevent ovulation. No ovulation = no pregnancy = no abortion. There is a pill which contains only progesterone (the "mini pill"), which prevents the endometrium from building up to support a fertilized egg. Of course, that is the one you want to avoid. So these women, none the wiser, start taking the combined pill without realizing they are actually taking an abortifacient. For those women, and anyone else who doesn't know, here's a short lesson on how hormonal birth control actually works. 

Each method has a primary mode of action. That's the main way it works. But all of them also have one or more secondary modes of action, because progesterone and estrogen (the hormones used in birth control) each affect several parts of the reproductive cycle.

The primary mode of action of the mini pill is to change the lining of the uterus to make it incapable of supporting a fertilized egg. This is the abortifacient action of the progesterone-only pill. It also changes cervical mucus, possibly making it more difficult for sperm to penetrate. In rare instances, ovulation may be suppressed. The primary mode of action of a combined estrogen & progesterone pill is to suppress ovulation. But, because of the progesterone, it also changes the lining of the uterus and the cervical mucus. Therefore, if the primary mode of action fails and conception occurs, it would be unlikely that the fertilized egg could implant. This is the abortifacient action of the combined pill.

All other hormonal birth control methods have the same modes of action depending on the hormones used - including implants and the hormone-releasing intra-uterine device (IUD). And what about the modes of action for an IUD that does not release hormones? Those IUDs are wrapped in copper wire, which is toxic and creates a hostile environment that can prevent ovulation, kill sperm, and reject a fertilized egg. In essence, a woman's body is reacting to a toxin in many ways that happen to prevent pregnancy and/or abort a pregnancy.

My friends, now you cannot say you didn't know. Even if you're not sure that what I'm saying is true, a commitment to life at conception means now you at least have to go find out. The information is out there.*

*In case you're wondering, I got my information from an obstetric text book.

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