Is hormonal contraception a women achievement?

Hormonal birth control methods are controversial. On the one hand, they are beneficial since they give women the power to decide on their own bodies, they are a good alternative to avoid pregnancy or to treat endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome. On the other hand, the responsibility stays only on the woman side, thus they are the only ones who pay the expenses by suffering the side effects on their own bodies.

Contraceptive pills.

Contraceptive pills. / Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Ana María Betancourt

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Leer en español: ¿Es la anticoncepción hormonal un logro de las mujeres?

The hormonal birth control methods (pills, hormonal IUDs, ring, patch, injection or implant) are designed to keep the responsibility of family planning exclusively on the female side, not only in physical but also financial matters.

This methods can lead to some seriously harmful side effects on the consumers bodies. The gynecologist expert in teen planning, Cristina Sánchez, mentions these effects:

•    Menstrual cycle abnormalities
•    Changes on the period bleeding
•    Migraine or headaches
•    Unexpected mood swings
•    Weight gain or loss 
•    Thigh muscle fatigue feeling
•    Mammary tissue stiffness

From a financial point of view, women are the exclusive user of birth control methods and the only payers.

According to Federico Maximiliano Osorio, specialist in Gender Studies, "the hegemonic masculinity imposes the responsibility of a sexual planning on the female side. I think this occurs because women are the ones that can conceive (get pregnant). So people think that if women can get pregnant, they should be the ones committed to family planning".

Female planning methods and body awareness

Female birth control methods have been a women achievement to their sexual and reproductive rights, because they have brought the opportunity to decide whether they want a pregnancy or not. 

This methods are significantly effective on preventing unwanted pregnancy (depending on the selected method the range varies from 80% to 98% of effectiveness). Furthermore, these methods are considered from a medical perspective as good alternatives to treat endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. 

Women tend to trust fully in hormonal contraceptive methods and in its positive side effects (regular cycles, no menstrual colics, less anxiety, etc.). Therefore, they are not aware of how their own menstrual cycles work, their natural consequences such as body changes and mood swings: female body signals. 

Also read: How to prevent vaginal yeast infections?

The Fertility Awareness Methods are an ancestral planning technique based on the link between woman and her own body. It uses tools like a chart that analyses the cervical mucus and the basal temperature, in order to identify the interval when the follicular, ovulation and luteal phase take place. The data explain how the emotions and body change depending on the menstrual cycle phase. Additionally, based on her wishes, it gives a clue of whether she should have protected or unprotected sexual intercourses.

"This method has a lot of benefits: health reasons, knowing when you ovulate, or how long your cycle is. Pregnancy prevention, if you work with an instructor, is 99.6% effective. A good relationship, if you have a partner, it brings a stronger connection between you two because you have to communicate to each other. You get to be free of chemical hormones, you're not putting synthetical hormones to your body", said Jess, a Fertility Awareness Method instructor. 

According to the Colombian Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Fertility Awareness Methods are 60% effective or less in preventing pregnancy. That's why women are recommended to use hormonal birth control methods, especially in teenagers cases. 

Male planning methods 

Nowadays there are only two available planning methods for men: condoms and vasectomy. 

According to the information of the Luis Pasteur Foundation, an organization that prevents mammary tissue and cervical cancer, some of the methods that have been studied by researchers are:

•    Temporal implants
•    Testicles ultrasound
•    Contraceptive pills
•    Blocking injection
•    Remote control

But these methods are still unverified and commercially unavailable, whereas there are plenty of female planning methods. This difference places most of the planning responsibilities to women side.

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