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New Standards for Birth Control Pills may be Necessary

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Today, the Associate Press released an article questioning the effectiveness of the new low dose birth control. The recent switch to lower dose birth control pills is leading to an increase in unwanted pregnancies. When the pill first came out in the 1960’s, it contained very high doses of hormones to prevent pregnancy. While the efficacy was good, less than one pregnancy for every 100 women who were on the pill for a year, the high level of hormones contributed to the risk of blood clots and cardiovascular problems.

During the last decade, drug manufacturers have decreased the level of hormones in birth control pills in an attempt to minimize the side effects present in older pills. This decrease in hormone has also led to an increase in unwanted pregnancies, with studies showing two pregnancies per 100 women on the pill for a year. These pills are much safer for the majority of women, however, concerns about efficacy are prompting the FDA to ask members of its reproductive drug panel to determine whether the difference should cause concern.

The rate of effectiveness is now at issue because no standard has ever been developed for contraceptives. Scientists attribute this to flawed studies.

Companies often exclude women who smoke, are overweight or have a history of heart problems from their trials. The FDA says this makes it difficult for scientists to judge the safety and efficacy of the drugs in the real world.

With approximately 60% of U.S. women between 15-44 using some form of birth control, a clear standard for effectiveness needs to be established. This will help women choose which method or pill is appropriate for personal use and minimize the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.