Monday, November 15, 2010

Guest Blogger Kristen Davis: Unplanned Pregnancy: Limitations to Sexual Awareness in American Women

I got an email from Kristen Davis late last week, and she wanted to write an article for my blog, so I said, what the heck, I gave her some background on my readers and who I want to reach, and she came up with the following article. Thank you Kristen!

Unplanned Pregnancy: Limitations to Sexual Awareness in American Women

Sexuality is a major topic in America today because of all the possible health impacts that accompany an unplanned pregnancy. Unfortunately, too few women consider adoption a legitimate option when they find themselves confronted with this situation. Mothers who instead turn to abortion as a solution face a host of physical and mental consequences after having this procedure done. One in ten of these women will experience one of more of the over 100 complications seen after abortion, including infection, hemorrhaging and convulsions.
Obviously for young women that do not wish to have children yet, avoiding pregnancy remains the best option. However, doing so safely is not guaranteed either. While the popularity of certain birth control methods is undeniable based on their widespread use, these methods also bring forth a host of further risks. Unfortunately, teens tend to fixate on avoiding pregnancy, arguably because it’s the most visible consequence, without considering the physical dangers that accompany sexual activity. However, with such well-established and successful adoption programs in place to bring life to a family unable to have children, young women should focus less on pregnancy and instead recognize the threats to their health if they engage in unsafe sex. 
            One major factor to consider regarding oral contraceptives is the potentially dangerous implications users might acquire about these drugs. While oral contraceptives are up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, these products often mislead young adults into believing they are protected against sexually transmitted disease as well. While pregnancy rates for unmarried young women in this country are declining, sexually transmitted disease rates continue to grow. Frighteningly, these drugs might actually be a contributing factor to this trend as teens protected from pregnancy are emboldened to have unprotected sex.
            Unfortunately, schools might fail to address the dangers of these contraceptives in health-centered education classes. With the U.S. government’s renewal of its $50 million a year funding over the next five years for abstinence-focused education, teens might not receive the comprehensive information needed to make the right choice about birth control. Worse still, schools might totally refuse to discuss contraception because it conflicts with the curriculum’s assertion that abstinence should be the sole method teens use regarding sexuality. While promoting abstinence-focused education, schools might also alienate the very students they most need to reach as these sexually-active teens are potentially ignored.
            Less informative still, the manufacturers of contraceptives regularly fail to mention important information regarding their product’s safety, leading to further drug misconception. One producer, Bayer HealthCare, was recently cited by the FDA for having misleading television advertisements concerning its products. Promoting their product as a total quality-of-life aid, these ads further misled teens into choosing these drugs based on unproven claims. Furthermore, Bayer was cited for substandard conditions in a plant its ingredients were manufactured in. However, the drug company’s annual multi-million dollar advertising campaigns continue to overshadow these revelations and make its drugs the most popular form of contraception on the market for young women today.
Although this pharmaceutical manufacturer’s lack of corporate integrity is disturbing, the severe physical consequence of these drugs is even more striking. Oral contraceptives are hormone-altering pills and can actually lead to permanent side effects, like the possibility of infertility. Originally introduced in the 1960’s, evidence today links the use of these drugs with the rise of cancer seen in U.S. women.
In fact, the growing number of complaints against oral contraceptives, exemplified by pending Yaz lawsuits, indicates that the short-term safety of such birth control options is far from certain as well. Users of this particular product have seen serious, and sometimes fatal, side effects including heart attack, stroke, blood clots, pulmonary embolisms and gallbladder disease. However, because schools refuse to recognize anything but abstinence as a legitimate lifestyle, these facts are rarely discussed with teens.
A dangerous lack of information regarding birth control and adoption are the major limitations of sexual awareness in American youth today. Although sexual promiscuity and dangerous forms of contraception are perfectly acceptable and heavily endorsed in the media, the dignified, responsible act of adoption continues to have a strong stigma attached to it. However, like many social solutions, healthy answers to unplanned pregnancy will only occur if teens are empowered with actual information about adoption, birth control and abortion.