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Contraceptive Watch


Ectopic risks raised, Depo-Provera and coma, condoms limits versus HIV

Editor’s note: As a matter of policy Population Research Institute takes no position on contraception per se. However, because many contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization techniques developed in the First World are destined, either directly or indirectly, for population control programs in the Third World, we cannot ignore the topic. With this issue we inaugurate Contraceptive Watch, an occasional update on trends, problems and innovations in contraceptive technology.

Ectopic risks raised

Dr. Herbert Peterson and other researchers with the US Centers for Disease Control, in Atlanta, Georgia, have determined that roughly seven of every 1000 women who undergo sterilization will have an ectopic pregnancy in later years. In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine of 13 March, Peterson reported that a study of almost 11,000 women revealed that the possibility of ectopic pregnancies persisted even as long as a decade after sterilization and was twice as high in women who were sterilized under 30 years of age.

“All women undergoing this procedure should be informed that ectopic pregnancy may occur long after sterilization,” Peterson said.

Female condom earns

The Female Health Company, manufacturer of the female condom and the only contraceptive company to have its own marketing arm in an UN-recognized non-governmental organization (NGO), announced in March that profits during the first half of fiscal year 1997 were up 43 percent over the same period one year previous.

The company also announced that, as of April 1997, it would begin distributing the female condom to developing countries part of an agreement with the United Nations’ anti-HIV/AIDS program, UNAIDS. “FHC’s objective is to have the female condom distributed in most major countries and 50 countries in total during the next 18 months,” the Company said.

Condoms limited vs. HIV

Condoms reduce the risk of HIV infection by about 70% only if they are used “consistently and correctly” reports an article in the International Planned Parenthood’s February 1997’s Medical Bulletin .

“Clearly sexual abstinence will eliminate all the risk,” writes Willard Cates Jr. MD, “However if we plot abstinence and condoms on the same graph (see Figure 1), we see that use of condoms reduces by approximately 70% the total risk between unprotected sex and complete sexual abstinence.” Cates did not remark on what the graph also shows: that HIV infection will} eventually occur even when using condoms consistently and correctly.

Depo-Provera and coma

An 18-year-old woman in Binghamton, New York went into a coma in March after being injected with the contraceptive Depo-Provera. According to the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin, Elizabeth Mason went into anaphylactic shock in the wake of the injection, which caused her body to swell with an additional 70 pounds of fluid.

In addition to swelling and coma, Mason suffered internal bleeding so severe that she bled from her nose, mouth and eyes.

Depo-Provera’s manufacturer, Upjohn, claimed the reaction is “extremely rare,” however, on its drug information sheet, the company notes that “voluntary reports have been received of anaphylaxis and anaphylactoid reaction when using Depo-Provera.”

Pill: side-affects update

A survey of 500 women commissioned by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals found that 25% of women who stop using oral contraceptives do so because of their side effects. Women using the contraceptives reported the most frequent side-effects as “weigh gain” (40%), mood changes (39%), headache (32%), and spotting or breakthrough bleeding 30%.

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