In a December 21, 2009 news release the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) proclaimed that “hormonal contraceptives offer benefits beyond pregnancy prevention“.

You’d have to be an ostrich with her head in the sand not to have heard this message before.  Just open any woman’s magazine to any ad for the pill, or any of the myriad varieties of drug-based birth control, and you’ll find the litany (a prolonged and tedious account) of non-contraceptive benefits used as marketing messages to “sell” birth control to girls and women.  So the news release begs the question: why now?

Maybe the pharmaceutical companies are putting pressure on the gynies to protect their funding and the drug companies profits.  Maybe this news release is damage control.  A recent article in Maclean’s magazine proclaimed a trend towards “ditching the pill for good“.

[O]ral contraceptive prescriptions in Canada levelled off in 2008, reports pharmaceutical industry analyst IMS Health Canada. Health care workers are seeing a growing demand for non-hormonal methods. Spurred by concerns about their health, the environment, or even frustration with family doctors, who sometimes seem to push the pill as a modern-day cure-all, Canadian women are looking for other options.

Are declining prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives a growing trend in North America?  Is there a backlash brewing against the pill, the patch and the ring?  One can only hope that the days when your gynecologist could convince you that taking the pill is a panacea for everything that, supposedly, is “wrong” with women’s bodies are coming to an end.

Hormonal contraceptives are drugs that disrupt a woman’s normally functioning endocrine system with synthetic versions of estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and progesterone (progestin) to induce infertility.  [Do not be fooled by the language used in the press release.]  These drugs have a time and place.  But precribing the pill must never become the “standard of care” for being a girl.  Mothers everywhere, take note.

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