A new study indicates that there may be a link between some forms of oral contraceptives and multiple sclerosis.

As a Catholic, I see a lot of reasons as to why the Catholic teaching on birth control makes sense. Others have done a fine job explaining those reasons, most notably Prof. Janet Smith . Patrick Coffin also does a great job in his book Sex Au Naturel. And of course, there’s Simcha Fisher. There are many others, but these are a few to address the basic question of Church teaching.

However, as a woman, I am particularly offended at what birth control means for women.

  • It’s primarily their responsibility. Judging from the anecdotal evidence of women who carry condoms with them, it appears that men can’t even be expected to provide their own contraception.
  • The health risks for women are minimized or all together left out of the conversation. Have  you ever looked at the insert that comes with the pill? That alone suggests that it isn’t “perfectly safe” for women. In conversations with doctors or nurses, as I defend my decision to not use it, I have yet to encounter one who would address the health concerns delineated in the package itself.

There’s been talk and research suggesting a link between oral contraceptives and breast cancer. In 2005, the World Health Organization labeled some forms of hormonal birth control as a Class I carcinogen. Then they changed the information on their website. Dr. Gerard Nadal did some sleuthing and you can read about it here.

But now we have a study linking some forms of the pill (a form of hormonal birth control) to MS, a terribly debilitating disease.

From the article reporting on the study:

Among some 4,300 women in Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California system from 2008 to 2011, those whose most recent oral contraceptive contained norethindrone had a 57% higher risk of definite MS or clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) (odds ratio 1.57, 95% CI 1.16-2.12) compared with plan members who had no record of oral contraceptive use, said Annette Langer-Gould, MD, PhD, of Kaiser’s Southern California Los Angeles Medical Center.

Oral contraceptive users whose most recent product contained levonorgestrel showed a similar increase in risk, with an odds ratio of 1.75 (95% CI 1.29-2.37), Langer-Gould said during a poster session here at theEuropean Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis annual meeting, held jointly this year with its North American counterpart.

….The findings shed new light on a previous Kaiser study that had found a 35% increase in MS risk with oral contraceptives generally, Langer-Gould said.[Emphasis mine.]

The article concludes:

Langer-Gould acknowledged that the associations found in the study could be spurious. It was a retrospective analysis of administrative records, and the available data did not cover all potential confounders, such as diet, vitamin D status, or lifestyle factors other than smoking.

Could be spurious. Might also be horribly accurate.

Look, I don’t agree with the use of contraception; but I also don’t think someone’s health should be compromised by using it.

Maybe print out the article and share it with your health care provider. The word needs to get out.