How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pill – Part 2

by Samantha cross posted from  her blog Defeating The Dragons

Part 1 is here.

Put in incredibly simple terms, hormonal birth control works thusly:

Step 1 : it prevents ovulation.

“Ovulation,” for the uninitiated, is when a mature egg is released from the ovary and become available for fertilization.Prevents,” in this case, does not mean that the pill stops the egg from peaking its little head out of the ovary. It prevents because no egg develops to maturity. Simply put, there is no egg to come out of the ovary in the first place. This is one of the most important parts about hormonal birth control options, and something no one seems to pay attention to.

This is also the most important part for me. PCOS means that I get too many cysts developing at the same time, or they never stop developing, and I never experience a menstrual cycle. Ovarian cysts are normal– an ovarian cyst is where the egg matures. Hormonal birth control works to treat PCOS because it does not allow ovarian cysts to develop. An additional part of this process is that even if an ovarian cyst develops, there’s another chemical block in place that stops an egg from forming inside of it.

No ovarian cyst, no egg, nothing mature enough to be fertilized.

But, in the exceedingly rare case (if it wasn’t rare, it would be useless as a treatment for PCOS) where there is a cyst and an egg is developed, we move on to–

Step 2:  eliminate the possibility of fertilization

This is pretty straightforward, and it comes in two steps. The progesterone in hormonal birth control options thickens the cervical mucus– makes it insanely more difficult for the sperm to reach the egg, which is already difficult– and it makes the egg harder to fertilize. So, even if a cyst develops, and if an egg develops inside of the cyst, and IF the sperm makes it up through the thickened mucus and all the way up the fallopian tube, when it reaches the egg, it’s going to have a hard time fertilizing it.

At this point in the process, the possibility of an egg being fertilized is so vanishingly small it’s not even really worth talking about, but I’m a-gonna, because it’s where the pro-life movement starts lying their little tooshies off.

“Supposed” Step 3: prevent implantation

At this point, the egg is a zygote, which is just the technical term for “fertilized egg.” For a lot of people this is where “conception” happens (which, problems), so this is where people start thinking that hormonal birth control is Just the Most Evil Thing those Evil Doctors have Ever Invented.

The most frequent term you’ll find in information about how this works is that the uterine wall is “hostile” for the egg. This is a misnomer. The uterine wall is exactly the same as it ever was, just  thinner (hence, lighter periods). There’s no study that shows that the uterus becomes “hostile”– in fact, the scientific studies show that hormonal birth control options do not alter the uterine lining in any significant way except for making it slightly thinner, and are incapable of contributing to zygote failure (which I’ll explain).

This is the part where the pro-life movement lies. Because, at this point, they claim that this where the Pill murders babies. Literally starves them to death. Because it takes a baby (zygote), and then refuses it the opportunity to grow. It never grows, the woman’s body never receives the signal that she’s pregnant, and then the uterus expels the zygote and the uterine lining: therefore, MURDER.

Ok, folks, this is where I have All the Problems.

Let’s talk about the zygote, the supposed “great red herring” of the pro-choice movement.

The zygote is a single-celled organism, which through mitosis goes through stages (blastocyst, then embryo). Over fourteen days, it has to develop into an embryo, and the embryo has to develop the conceptus in order to attach to the uterine lining. The uterine lining, at this point, must transform from the decidua to the placenta.

Hormonal birth control methods are incapable of terminating a viable pregnancy. They are designed, in an unbelievable number of unnecessary steps, to prevent fertilization from ever occurring. Not by turning the uterus into a baby-killing machine. That’s patently false, and a bald-faced lie. If a woman’s body develops an egg, the uterine lining is unchanged. If there aren’t enough of the synthetic hormones present to prevent ovulation, there’s not enough of the hormones present to affect the uterine lining. If there’s no egg, then the uterine lining is thinner, possibly, and that’s the only real difference.

It’s a complete misunderstanding that in the case of supposed “breakthrough ovulation” that the uterine lining is still thinner. It’s not.

Here’s what the pro-life movement also refused to discuss:

All the medical studies I could scrounge up reveal that 60, 70, maybe 80% of all zygotes fail to implant on the uterine wall, when the woman is trying to conceive and is not on hormonal birth control.

Let me say that again: as many as 80% of all “babies” never implant in the uterus completely on their own.

For those that do manage to make it, another 30% don’t survive the first few weeks.

Let’s do the math again: 72% to 86% of all zygotes, which the pro-life movement refers to as babies,diewithout any outside interference whatsoever. When a woman is not on the Pill, zygotes fail.

When a woman is on the Pill, there’s rarely ever a zygote, and when there is one, it faces the exact same rate of zygote failure as a woman who isn’t on the Pill. The upside? When a woman is using hormonal birth control, there are less zygotes. Somewhere in the ballpark of 98% less zygotes.

Let me make this more clear: if zygote failure is “murder,” and hormonal birth control options drastically reduces the number of zygotes, the number of failed zygotes (i.e.: “murder”) is also drastically reduced.

Tell me again how the Pill is evil?

Comments open below


Read everything by Samantha!

Samantha grew up in the homeschool, patriarchy, quiverful, and fundamentalist movements, and experienced first-hand the terror and manipulation of spiritual abuse. She is now married to an amazing, gentle man who doesn’t really get what happened to her but loves her anyway. With him by her side and the strength of God’s promises, she is slowly healing.

Samantha blogs at Defeating The Dragons and is a member of The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Petticoat Philosopher


  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    So thorough! Thank you so much for putting this info out there.

    One thing I do wonder about (and perhaps you’re going to address this later…forgive me if I’m jumping the gun) is the true facts behind the Plan B or morning after pill. Technically, it’s made from the same stuff as birth control pills. In fact, many bc pills can be taken in large doses to mimic the effects of Plan B and thus be “emergency” contraception. You would think, therefore, that Plan B was not any more nefarious toward zygotes than the pill 🙂

    So what do we make of the fact that emergency contraceptives are supposedly so effective at stopping pregnancy? Is it really just that 80-some percent of women who use them got lucky and managed to take it before ovulation had occurred? Or is there more of a post-fertilization effect with Plan B than there would be with the pill? I have heard it said that doctors are starting to believe Plan B is less affective post-ovulation than previously believed, so perhaps it’s really not any different from the pill at all. Do you have info on this?

    I am definitely not trying to start a fire fight about Plan B since I know it’s an EVEN MORE controversial topic than the pill. But this is something I’ve been chewing over for a long while.

  • forgedimagination

    The problem with Plan B options is that we know even less about how they work than how the Pill works.

    From the research I’ve done, it’s likely that they make it extremely difficult for the sperm to reach the egg by thickening the cervical mucus (which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 days), and it’s likely that the huge dose of the synthetic hormones does do something to the uterine lining, although we have no idea what. It’s not the same chemicals as the abortion pill, which breaks the lining down.

    However, it takes three weeks for the lining to form– one does of chemicals doesn’t seem like it could do much to reverse that developing process.

  • MsCoffeeBitch

    Plan B works to try to prevent ovulation (if it has not already occurred) as well as to thin the lining of the uterus. Some women have anywhere from breakthrough bleeding to what feel like a period after taking Plan B. It also still works to make the egg more difficult to fertilize. It will not work if the fertilized egg has already managed, or still manages to implant in the uterine lining. Though, as stated above, it is possible for a zygote to be created but fail to implant in the uterine lining thereby avoiding pregnancy.

  • Saraquill

    I’ve also read that Plan B makes it so that it’s harder for sperm to fertilize the egg.

  • gimpi1

    Thank you for this. This factual information needs to be shouted from the mountaintop. I have heard so much misinformation about this, and when I refer people to factual information (from such “biased” sources as The New York Times, The Lancet and the AMA) the chide me for my gullibility. Apparently understanding biology and knowing the current best information regarding medicine makes me a dupe. Who knew?

    To me, this gives lie to the whole “pro-life” stance. When informed that hormonal birth-control does not cause an early abortion, instead of saying, “Whew! What a relief. One less thing to worry about. Thanks,” the pro-life movement says, “You’re lying! You’re a dupe! I know I’m right because…I just am! Murderer!”

    When facts are not your friends, you can’t hope to find the truth.