Despite a new Pew survey reporting that only 4% of Americans and 13% of weekly Mass attending Catholics in the US think that contraception is morally wrong, “the Pill” is getting belated, but well-deserved, bad press from surprising sources.
Harvard psychology professor and Playboy Magazine columnist, Dr. Justin Lehmiller, is reporting on research I mentioned the other day indicating that hormonal contraceptives (HC’s) influence the type of man that a woman is attracted to and can undermine satisfaction in longterm relationships–especially if a woman who chose a mate while on the Pill subsequently discontinues the use of HC’s. Of course, one response to this might be, “well, then, don’t go off the Pill!” but such a flippant response denies the reality that, in most longterm relationships, couples eventually want to have children, necessitating that they stop using HC”s. The real danger here is that just when couples need to draw closer to each other and work better together, the effects of discontinuing contraception can kick in, making partnership that much more difficult.
On top of this, a brand new article by the Guardian is accusing the medical establishment of “pillsplaining” (condescendingly minimizing the risks of HC’s) in light of a new study from the University of Copenhagen that demonstrates that the Pill can both increase the risk of depression and cause a worsening of already-existing depression symptoms in women who use HC’s.Researchers found that women taking the combined oral contraceptive were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and those using progestin-only pills (also known as “the mini-pill”) were 34% more likely. Teens were at the greatest risk of depression, with an 80% increase when taking the combined pill, and that risk is two-fold with the progestin-only pill. In addition, other hormone-based methods commonly offered to women seeking an alternative to the pill – such as the hormonal IUS/coil, the patch and the ring – were shown to increase depression at a rate much higher than either kind of oral contraceptives.
All of this is to say that despite the challenges that couples using Natural Family Planning can sometimes face, it remains the most safe, effective, and moral approach to family planning. Once again, we see an example of scientists arriving at the peak of the mountain only to find that the Vatican’s flag has already been planted. If you would like to learn more about how the Church’s vision of love can help you and your spouse experience a more passionate, joyful, spiritual sexual life together, I invite you to check out Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.
The bottom line? Don’t believe the lie that opposing HC’s is somehow waging war against women. In fact, the opposite is true.