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Beyond contraception

The ongoing advocacy for the Supreme Court to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and reverse its August 2016 decision is about access to modern contraceptive methods, and more. The SC’s promulgations have made zero access to contraceptives an impending reality. If this happens, our Justices should be blamed for ruining the lives of millions of Filipino women—those who will be denied their human right to practice family planning; the millions who are afflicted with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome; and women who might be afflicted with certain kinds of cancers that could otherwise be prevented by use of oral contraceptives.

Yes, the #LiftTRO campaign goes beyond the issue of contraception. I have dealt with family planning and contraception in numerous pieces before. Now let me focus on the other benefits of contraceptives beyond family planning.

Recent studies have revealed that taking birth control pills can help women prevent certain cancers for as long as thirty years. According to a report from Huffpost, “the University of Aberdeen, Scotland looked at 46,022 women taking part in the Oral Contraception Study established by the Royal College of General Practitioners jn 1968 to investigate the longterm effect of oral contraceptives. The study looked at the risk of all types of cancer in women who have taken the pill following the participants for up to 44 years making this the world’s longest-running study on the effects of oral contraceptive.”

The reported results of the study are impressive.

First, they found NO evidence of new cancer risks appearing later in life among women who used the pill during their reproductive years. It should be noted here that usually, more cancers occur during the later stages of life. This finding is quite important because this shoots down allegations by anti-RH groups that hormonal contraceptives cause cancer.

Second, the study concluded that women who used the pill “had a lower risk of colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer or ovarian cancer than women who had never used the pill, with women protected from these cancers for at least thirty years after they had stopped using the pill.”

This study’s findings support a 2016 study which said that because of the widespread use of oral contraceptives, the number of deaths from ovarian cancer in Western countries for the period covering 2002 to 2012 significantly went down. This latest study also boosts the conclusion in 2015 of another study done by the University of Oxford indicating that longterm use of the pill could protect women from endometrial cancer.

These recent studies again bring to our attention of other benefits of contraception beyond its primary use which is for birth control and family planning.

The contraceptive pill is also used to treat and manage Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS.

I was in my early twenties when I suffered from continuous spotting and bleeding for more than three months. I did not want to consult a doctor because I thought it would stop. But on the third month, the bleeding was heavier and it scared me. I finally went to my Gynecologist who told me that hormonal imbalance was the culprit. After doing a pregnancy and a few other tests, I was given birth control pills to correct my condition. Indeed, the bleeding stopped. From then on, my menstrual cycle also became more regular, something that I did not experience from the onset of menarche. I did not know then but on hindsight, I most probably suffered from PCOS.

PCOS is a hormonal disorder when women produce too much of male hormones called androgens. It cannot be prevented but early diagnosis & treatment help prevent longterm complications such as infertility, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women.

Some of the symptoms of PCOS are: abnormal vaginal bleeding that happens to about 30 percent of women afflicted with the condition; irregular menstrual cycle; sudden weight gain; acne; increased male-like hair growth; inability to conceive; low self-esteem; high stress levels; and, hypertension.

In the Philippines, it is estimated that about 5 percent to 10 percent of women between the ages of 18-44 have PCOS. I read somewhere that around ten million Filipinas may have this disease. Other estimates say that one in every ten to fifteen women are affected by this condition.

No wonder I found PCOS as a main reason why women signed the online #LiftTRO petition. I would like to give space to some of these women’s voices:

Camille Austria said, “I have been suffering from PCOS. I have been using pills to alleviate the negative effects and prevent further negative impacts on my health caused by PCOS.”

According to Rosemarie Jane Garcia, “I am concerned with my life. Having hormonal pills keeps me alive and balanced. Having PCOS is not easy.”

For her part, Roxette Valencia said, “I am signing because I am diagnosed with PCOS and it is the only medicine that I could take to save myself from infertility.”

Justine Pido lamented, “A lot of women including myself are suffering from PCOS and we need hormonal pills as a form of maintenance medication. It is highly ignorant of government to let contraceptives become obsolete... I have only been recently diagnosed and it seems like this country.... isn’t even willing to give me, and the rest of its women a fair chance at living a healthy life...”

Lastly, Ching Dee said, “Let us bleed regularly in peace! Leave our pills alone!”

These are just some of the voices of women who are afflicted with PCOS who will be deprived of their medication-- the pill, because of the SC’s continuing refusal to lift the TRO and reverse its August 2016 decision.

If you want to read more reasons why people support the #LiftTRO campaign, you may go to bit.ly/lifttro and listen to the desperate, angry voices of those affected by this unjust decision of our Justices. Better yet, sign the petition and be one with us.

Yes, we strongly call on the High Court to stop violating women’s rights to health and life. This is about, and beyond contraception.

 

 

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Topics: Elizabeth Angsioco , Supreme Court , Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) , contraceptive methods , Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
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