Little Pills, Big Trouble

It is difficult to perceive that so many headaches can come from such tiny little objects. I often hear from first time pill users how baffling it is that something so innocuous can do such a mammoth task; replacing their worry and setting them free. Well, apparently the pill, small as it is in stature, is huge in its effect; some parts of that effect are good and some are downright dangerous.

We all know about the blood clots (VTE), at least it’s a risk that is coming out into the open. The doctors and practitioners giving out oral contraceptives are supposed to check a woman’s clotting risk factors beforehand and I know that doesn’t happen as it should, but let’s say that is not the fault of the pharmaceutical companies.

So then there is the old breast cancer debate. Even if the newer low-dose pills seem to be safer, the horrible disease dressed in pink ribbons could be dangerous for women with family histories.

And then there are the groups who need to stay away from hormonal contraception: smokers, diabetics, women with a long list of chronic diseases. Bla bla bla, its all old news.

But this week, a new pill worry showed up, at least from one pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, manufacturer of Lo/Ovral-28. The actual pills were fine, but the order was confused (note to factory QA manager: no more drunken festivities on school nights). The company explained that the order of their pills was confused in an unknown number of boxes, meaning that active pills and placebo (sugar) pills were mixed up. One astute user picked up on the mix, which was noticeable because they come in different colours, but would probably confuse the majority of users who trust the dated packages and probably take their pill with a high level of automatic command. And the company that makes Viagra (read: likes good sex) does not want to hear about unplanned pregnancies on their watch.

I guess it is just another reminder that we need to stay alert to the side effects of sex, even when we think we’re covered. Indeed, that’s sex for you: always keeping you on your toes. Or your back, or knees, or kitchen table. Hey, its not all bad to keep yourself and your partner attentive to your sex lives. And while you’re regularly rethinking your contraception and safety methods, consider asking yourself when you last refreshed your sexual repertoire.

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