Controversy Over Hormonal Methods

The Pill Does Not Always Prevent Fertilization

While many women may not think twice over it, other women purposely choose not to use hormonal contraceptives, such as oral contraceptive pills, implants, the patch, vaginal rings, injections, and some IUDs. Why? Because of how these birth control methods may prevent pregnancy.

The Issue

Hormonal methods of birth control are designed to work mainly by suppressing ovulation. However, in some cases ovulation may still take place; in fact, for some women this may occur every single cycle. As a result, these contraceptives prevent pregnancy through a different method.

In addition to suppressing ovulation, hormonal birth control change the lining of a woman's uterus so that implantation of a fertilized egg cannot take place. The embryo is then expelled from the body with the next period. This is more likely to occur with estrogen-free methods.

It is the possibility that this method of contraception may function in this manner that is causing controversy and making some women avoid hormonal birth control altogether.

Fertilization and Conception

There does not seem to be an absolute definition of conception. To some people, conception occurs when an egg and a sperm join together. For other people, conception does not happen until a fertilized egg has implanted itself into the lining of the uterus. Depending on how you define conception, hormonal birth control's ability to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg can be seen as an "interceptive" or as an "abortive" technique.

Is It for You?

Women who view conception as taking place when an egg is fertilized by a sperm may want to choose a non-hormonal method of birth control. Although these birth control methods are not generally regarded as forms of abortion, your personal views on conception and abortion may cause them to be placed in that category.

It is up to each woman to weigh the pros and cons of hormonal birth control methods versus forms of non-hormonal birth control and to decide what makes sense for her in terms of her morals, values, and personal well-being.

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