A guest post by physician Judy Washington:
Menopause brings freedom from the worries of contraception.
We now have women of child-bearing age in our lives.
They are our daughters, daughters-in-law, nieces, and colleagues. Listening to all the talk about contraception makes me nervous, and it should make us think twice about what there is at risk if they lose access to contraception.
Free contraception would be better, but that will take time.
Starting the pill after my son was born made residency much easier. My husband was a pharmaceutical company sales representative. The company launched its low dose oral contraceptive pill, and I started taking it in 1987.
After a few weeks of morning nausea, I was fine. I learned to stop my period even before it was common place with the new extended cycle pills. I would not have period during my hospital rotation months, during my vacation or on my weekends off.
When I finished residency and started my private medical practice, I continued regulating my period. I also managed to save many honeymoons and vacations by using this method for my many female patients. I never had a period because I was too busy seeing patients or being on call. That was my freedom.
Now there are the new extended cycle pills that are being used by more women. Many women are not using them because of the higher insurance cost. The hormone dose in these oral contraceptive pills is even lower; one pill has only 10 micrograms if estrogen compared to 30 micrograms back when I started.
Not only are the pills lower in dose, the new IUD’s are called Intrauterine Contraception (IUC’s). There are two types. The copper IUC which is non-hormonal and lasts for up to ten years, and the hormone containing IUC, which is effective for five to seven years.
I really love the new FemCap, which is an improved version of the diaphragm and cervical cap. It is non-hormonal.
Another blast from the past is the new and improved contraceptive sponge, renamed “Today Sponge.” We all remember the Seinfeld episodes with Elaine hoarding her supply of the Sponge.
Access to reliable and affordable contraception is our right and is medically necessary. The medical facts are being dismissed as we have to listen to the political rhetoric and the hysteria.
Contraception decreases the risk of unintended pregnancy for women. Worldwide, women do not have this freedom. Contraception can reduce child-birth related deaths. In Nigeria, women are waiting in lines to obtain contraception. The facts are that using contraception is a safe option.
We made the decision together to have only one child to add to my husband’s two children.
Every woman should have that freedom. It just takes a few clicks to be informed.
Judy Washington, MD FAAFP, is a board-certified Family Physician. She has spent her medical career first in private practice and later in medical education. She is now working as a college health physician.