In control or under control?
While the birth control pill was lauded for its impact on the emancipation of women in the early 60's, in some circles it's now slammed for being a cancer-inducing blight on the world Most modern inventions or developments are geared towards making life better or more efficient. The development of the contraceptive pill certainly seems to have opened up a whole new world for women. With the birth control pill, the fear of having a child out of wedlock instantly evaporated, giving women the opportunity to protect themselves from the fate of being left pregnant and alone, and able to enjoy an unprecedented sexual freedom. But at what cost? Over 40 years later, the scientific community is producing more and more data about the link between breast cancer and the contraceptive pill. The understanding of hormonal needs in women has now been fully explored, as well as the effects of too little or too much of one or the other. The Imperial Cancer Research Fund in Oxford, England conducted a 4 year study on the Pill on over 150 000 women. Their results showed that all users faced an increased risk of breast cancer, including up to 10 years after stopping the usage of the Pill The Netherlands Cancer Institute carried out a large study that showed that girls who began taking the Pill before 20 yrs of age, faced an increased risk of breast cancer that was 3 ' times more than those girls who hadn't taken the Pill The same study showed that women over 36 who had used the Pill for less than four years had a 40% increased risk of getting breast cancer 97% of women under 36 yrs who had being diagnosed with breast cancer had been on the Pill at some stage It's also now believed that the contraceptive pill can have a negative effect on your healthy gut bacteria and that this can negatively affect your children. The studies and statistics are startling to say the least, however, the hormonal input of the pill certainly helped millions of women with problems other than contraception. From easing acne and menstrual pain or mood swings, to keeping cystic fibrosis in check, the pill has certainly changed many lives. Additionally, the pill has allowed women to delay childrearing to pursue careers, all of which has made taking the pill almost a no-brainer for young women. The belief that birth control pills are safe comes from more than 40 years of continuous brainwashing by the pharmaceutical industry to both physicians and the public. We are victims of misinformation and dangerous practices ' Dr. Erika Schwartz A NATURAL RHYTHM While many proponents will wax lyrical about the contraceptive pill and its myriad advantages, what women really want is a natural solution that doesn't put their life in danger. So just how do you get the advantages of being in charge of your menstrual cycle and childbearing, without the danger posed by contraceptive pills? Well, one of the most important things you can do for your health is listening to your body. It's a finely designed machine that knows exactly what's needed when. Living a more natural life, as free from synthetic and modified foods and chemicals as possible helps you to hear your body. A woman's monthly cycle is possibly one of the easiest things to hear. Natural Family Planning [NFP] is one of the catch-all phrases for doing just that, listening to your body and observing the signs that tell you where you are in your monthly cycle. Fertility Awareness Management is another term you're likely to hear. Not having sex during the high fertility period is the most natural birth control. It's also the best way to plan for pregnancy. There are various methods under the NFP banner; however the basics are as follows: There are two observations you'll need to make; basal body temperature and mucus. With basal body temperature, you'll need to take your temperature at the same time every morning, before you get out of bed; your basal body temperature is based on your unique circadian rhythms, which are affected by hormonal changes as you wake up. Tip: Use a thermometer specifically designed for basal body temperature, it's more sensitive and therefore more accurate. Cervical mucus can be observed every time you visit the bathroom. The 'feel' and 'look' are both important: if the mucus is wet or lubricative and looks clear or stretchy [think raw egg-white], then you're fertile. If it's tackier, you're less fertile. Most NFP proponents don't encourage risking condoms or other barriers during your fertile time, but it's completely up to you. MOTHER NATURE Something that's often side-stepped in modern medicine is Mother Nature. The earth has everything humans need in order to live and heal. It's interesting to note some of the ancient methods used for birth control. Kindly note the following list is not a recommendation and if exploring herbal or natural birth control options kindly consult a natural health practitioner for advice. '      Stoneseed Root. American Indians, specifically the Dakota tribe, were known to use this herb by infusing the root in cold water for several hours. Science has shown that the active principle, called Lithospermic Acid (LA), in low concentration acts specifically on the pituitary gland, suppressing the production of gonadotropins (hormones which stimulate the sex glands) and certain pituitary hormones. '      Jack in the Pulpit Root. Less powerful than stoneseed, this root is used to prevent conception for up to a week by mixing a teaspoon of the powdered root in half a cup of cold water. '      Thistles.  The Quinault Indians used thistles to induce temporary sterility by placing the entire plant in boiling water.  The very bitter, strong tasting liquid was then consumed. '      Wild Carrot Seed (Queen Anne's Lace). This was specifically used as a morning after prevention. It's oily and strong tasting ' the advice was to take a teaspoon of carrot seeds immediately after sex and continue for seven days. '      Smartweed Leaves.  A common weed that grows all over the world, smartweed contains the substances rutin, quercitin and gallic acid all of which are supposed to interfere with the initiation of pregnancy. '      Rutin. This is available in tablet form. A minimum of 500 mg is recommended daily for several days before and following ovulation. It can be used as a morning after option, taken every day after sex until menstruation starts.   DID YOU KNOW? Women in ancient times used Silphium, a plant from the parsley family, as birth control. It became extinct due to overharvesting. TAKE CONTROL While the pill is still prescribed to millions of women around the world, it's giving woman illusory control of their lives. Yes it's convenient to be able to time your menstruation down to the minute and even manipulate when your period begins so you can wear a bikini or white dress for some occasion. But, once again, at what cost? Are you truly in control of what happens to your body? You can be ' simply by being more aware of what your body is saying and what the implications are to you if you do decide to opt for a hormonal solution. Control is about having choices and making informed decisions. If you are on the pill and want to continue taking it, research its negative effects and do what you can to balance the damage. If you want to go off the pill, learn how to engage the positive effects through nature. It's entirely possible to live a healthy and natural life, even in today's frenetic and ever-evolving world. DID YOU KNOW? Ancient Egyptians practised birth control and some of the earliest documented descriptions of their methods include the use of honey, acacia leaves and lint placed in the vagina to block sperm.

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