Just A Little Pill
Today I had a wonderful day. A wonderfully normal day. Sure, a healthy woman would probably not recognize it as a good day, but for me it is simply splendid to have the sort of day of which a normal woman would think nothing.
I made breakfast. I cleaned the apartment a little while listening to my favorite Litany of the Saints several times. I went for a run and was able to run about 2 of the 3.5 miles with only minor pain. I was able to think enough to catch up on some long-overdue emails. I made supper (while taking pictures for a future blog post) and went to Adoration… where I was able to, get this, not only pray but also read! And then I got to go to Mass and a veneration service with no awareness of the great effort it normally takes me.
All of this was possible because of a little pill I took last night.
I know that it has potentially horrible side-effects, but my good Catholic doctor tells me not to worry about them and that they just have to put that stuff on the patient info sheets. And, you know, my doctor does know a whole lot more about these things than I do.
But, just for fun, let’s revisit these potential side-effects…
Abortion/miscarriage. There isn’t actually any proof of this one, but some very respected (if fringe) medical doctors have published books in which they explain why it is likely that this pill will increase the chance of miscarriage, before a woman even has a chance to know that she is pregnant.
Birth defects such as congenital heart defect.
Cancer. This pill may lead to an increase in uterine or breast cancer.
I’d rather not have to deal with any of those, but the pill makes me feel oh so much better while I take it!
Of course soon I will have to take the break without the pill. Since I will then feel horrible and not be able to work if I take nothing, I will take alternative pills. They won’t make me feel as good, but at least I will be able to get through my day until I can collapse into bed at 6:30pm.
The other pills have their own, different, list of potential side effects:
Abortion/miscarriage. Unlike the first pill there is actually substantial evidence that this drug increases the chance of having a miscarriage, especially if taken the way that I take it. The patient education sheet says “THIS MEDICINE MAY HARM THE FETUS.”
Heart failure from swelling.
Life-threatening skin or allergic reactions.
Serious stomach bleeding.
So, is it immoral for me to take these little pills?
Does it matter that they are not the birth control pill? The first is “bioidentical” progesterone (prescribed by all the good Catholic doctors and taken by just about every other good Catholic woman who is trying to follow the Church’s teachings for gynecological health issues) and the second is naproxen (aka a common painkiller that is available over the counter and you would might take without thinking twice).
I can’t find a way to make sense of the fact that people would be horrified if I were “on the pill” but have no objection to me taking these pills. I’d love to read your thoughts. They may give me something to read in future years if I die slowly of cancer rather than a heart attack.
- I am thankful 10/30/2011
- Electronic Affection
Thank you! One thing I do *NOT* understand is the whole “it’s a sin to take birth control because it can cause a miscarriage, but it is not a sin to take aleve which can also cause a miscarriage, because you weren’t trying to avoid pregnancy with the aleve.” For one, I don’t think people who take BC are doing so in order to abort a fetus. For another…wouldn’t it seem even more selfish to abort a fetus over a headache than over extreme pain or even heck, not feeling like you could raise a kid at a that time. BC might be immoral for some reasons, but if it’s potential to cause a miscarriage is what makes immoral, then all medicine that does so should also be – regardless of the reason you take it.
The aleve thing really gets to me. Even though there is only speculation and no proof that the pill increases the incidence of miscarriage, it is depicted as universally evil, whereas aleve is fine even though we know it is harmful? Obviously I agree with you.
Wow. So I take (prescription) naproxen uh, pretty much every day. And no one has ever, EVER told me it could cause a miscarriage. I don’t even remember ever getting a patient info sheet the first time it was prescribed….I must have, I guess? I remember the doctor saying “it’s prescription strength Aleve” and not having to take migraine medication, if I took it early enough.
Needless to say, I agree with you.
I am sorry that you have to deal with such pain. Hopefully the naproxen at least gets you out of even worse side-effects from alternate medication.
You know what i find interesting ??????
Most drugs carry a lot of those warnings … but i never think twice before taking paracetamol for headache just the same
I think that if you deal with many health issues you get used to the warnings. They’re just rather a shock to those who are blessed to be healthy, and I think some tend to zero in on certain things and cause a whole lot of confusion!
I think it has more to do with the reason for taking the medication. If you are taking a medication (including the BC pill) for a medical problem, then I don’t see why people should have a problem with it (although it should be a “real” medical reason – I was prescribed BC when I was 13 just to “regulate” my cycles and make them less heavy – they hadn’t ever had the time to regulate on their own, most 13 year old are somewhat irregular!). Although I will admit, there are purists that hate BC no matter what (I’m not one of them). If you are taking it only to prevent pregnancy, which is not a medical problem (fertility is not a disease to be managed), then it becomes more of a moral problem. All medications have their risks, and in my opinion there are several medication on the market where the risks outweigh the benefits for most people who take them. I think the pill is singled out simply because most women who take it are not taking it because of a medical problem.
I actually agree with you entirely. And that totally stinks that you were put on the pill for no reason at 13!
I think the problem lies in people singling out the pill as universally evil without acknowledging the complexity of reality.
I tend to go the way of Mandi’s comment (and in fact, just had a similar conversation at a marriage prep weekend). If a woman is taking ‘the pill’ (or any drug really) knowing that it may prevent pregnancy and/or cause abortion or miscarriage and does so purely for those reasons, then it’s immoral. But, that exact same drug taken for another reason (to function normally for example :)), and considered prayerfully to be sure the woman’s intentions are pure (to not prevent pregnancy or cause abortion or miscarriage) then the principle of double effect would apply. The key to double effect in this instance especially is that the woman taking the pill must have properly formed her conscience and followed it. Not trying to open a can of worms, just chiming in to say, when we speak in absolutes about things, we must be clear what we are saying.
The funny thing is how little time we all spend talking about forming and following our consciences. And three cheers for clearness!
I agree with Rebecca and Mandi. The Church does not forbid the use of artificial birth control because of the side effects. If that was the only reason, then there would be nothing wrong with using barrier methods to prevent conception. The Church forbids the use of artificial birth control because we are required to be open to the gift of life when engaging in sexual intercourse. We wouldn’t be permitted to use The Pill to prevent conception even if it had no side effects at all. The other Rebecca commented on the principle of double effect, so I won’t repeat her, but that is why you can take your medication and still be compliant with the Church’s teachings.
Thanks! Just to clarify, I do actually understand the Church’s teachings. This post was mainly to point out the inconsistency which I see among Catholics every day. Apparently in many circles it is just cool to universally denounce the pill and women who use it for health reasons.
It seems like you have some concerns about the pill that you’re taking, which raised this question for me… Are you taking this pill (as opposed to “the Pill”) because it’s what you feel is right for you, or because of what people would say if you were taking a birth control pill instead?
Unfortunately I have concerns about *every* option that I know of, including doing nothing! I am taking the progesterone now because it seemed worth a shot, even if a slim one, to have something that might facilitate my fertility cycle rather than suppress it. This is only my second month so I’ll probably give it another cycle before giving up.
And I brought up my concerns in this post only to help people realize how illogical we are when it comes to these sorts of things. It seemed likely that I would just offend people if I did not put it in the context of what *I* am doing. The one thing I don’t want to do is act holier-than-thou since I clearly am at least as messed up in this area as anyone else!
Glad you got something to help you feel better and function! I did the progesterone for a while too, but it didn’t help my situation.
I am sorry. It is certainly not the cure-all that some would like to pretend it is.
It’s intent, intent, intent – I know many good Catholic women who take a medication that’s commonly called a birth control pill for many woman’s health reasons, none of them is to abort, miscarry or even postpone conception – many of them would welcome the miracle of a child conceived while they’re controlling their other symptoms. It is a tricky argument indeed.
As usual, I agree.
I’m SO glad you are taking the pill – it made everything better for me! However, I didn’t take a week off per month – I took a pill every day (and it wasn’t seasonale – before those were out, just a regular pill I took every single day for fourteen years). And 4-6 times per year I would get my period – it would just start on it’s own even though I was taking the pill, and I would then stop the pill for 5 days. I got pregnant on our second attempt after going off of the pill and my doc and I think it was because 14 years on the pill kept my endometriosis/scar tissue at bay by suppressing my period. Happy healthy baby boy is now 2 months old
Congratulations! I am sad that you’re not still blogging but so happy to hear about your baby.
And don’t be too happy for me just yet… I’m not really on the pill yet, just basically the mini-pill for the second part of my cycle. Baby-steps though, right? And I’ve already talked with my doctor about only taking a break from the pill a few times a year since I know that I don’t want to deal with monthly withdrawal if I’m not actually having a real cycle anyway!
I do that and then ended up only having a period like twice a year. The Catholic in me took a pregnancy test everytime I missed my period though even though I knew it was just from excess hormones!
Pingback: Hormonal Hades: What Would You Do? | There Is No Wealth But Life