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Fertility and the Pill
a blog by Marie Lee
I get a lot of questions on my blog about the birth control pill and its possible effects on fertility. On a general level, synthetic hormones make me leery. I persuaded my mother to stop her hormone replacement therapy (which her doctor just put her on because “it was time”) even before they found out all the extra estrogen was giving women breast cancer!
Ob-Gyns’ standard line about the pill is that it is totally safe and studies show that it has no effect on fertility. These studies, however, generally look at how long it takes a woman to get pregnant after coming off the pill. They don’t take into account if she miscarries, has a baby with a birth defect, etc.
Now comes a study showing that minute traces of birth control pills in water does weird-chromosome-screwing-up mutations called aneuploidy in rainbow trout. This does not give me lot of confidence, either. Not only are BCPs possibly bad for you, they are bad for the environment and awful for the poor fish who never asked to be bathed in synthetic hormones.
If you have miscarried, has your doc attributed it to a “chromosomally damaged embryo?”
Aneuploidy is the scientific term for having an abnormal number of chromosomes in the nucleus of each cell. The disorder affects humans and other animals that reproduce sexually, including fish. The chromosomal disorder occurs in nearly 5 percent of all human pregnancies and is the leading cause of miscarriage worldwide. Although most aneuploid pregnancies fail naturally, some babies are born and do survive. Aneuploidy is the number one reason for congenital birth defects such as Down's syndrome and Turner syndrome, and mental retardation (Hassold 2007).
So go green with your fertility for the sake of your own fertility — and that of the Earth’s.
From the proceedings of the National Academy of Science via Environmental Health News:
Researchers report that very minute quantities of the hormone found in the birth control pill alter sperm development in rainbow trout by changing the number of chromosomes, which can lead to lower survival and long-term health problems in the offspring. This error in cell division is called aneuploidy. In people, aneuploidy is the largest known source of spontaneous miscarriage. Importantly, it highlights the need to develop new, and use existing, green chemistry technologies to better clean effluent released from water treatment facilities.
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