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What are the consequences of contraceptive use and why is the Catholic Church opposed to them?

consequences-of-contraceptive-useThe use and availability of contraceptives is linked to the increased spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Casual sex, encouraged by widely available contraception, has resulted in about 60 million Americans being infected with one or more sexually-transmitted diseases, many of them incurable and emotionally devastating. The estimated cost of treating these illnesses is now $19 billion a year in the U.S. alone.

Planned Parenthood and secular sex educators recommend using condoms for protection against STDs. Yet condoms offer almost no protection against the epidemic of incurable viral STDs, such as genital herpes and human papilloma virus (HPV), strains of which cause genital warts and virtually all cases of cervical cancer. Numerous studies have found that typical condom use offers inadequate or little protection against even bacterial STDs, such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Hormonal contraceptives themselves have inherent health risks. Synthetic hormones powerful enough to disrupt a woman’s reproductive system may affect every major system of her body. Depending on the type and strength of the hormonal contraceptive, over five percent of women experience some of the following symptoms: headaches, weight gain, acne, mood swings, depression, anxiety, breast pain, dizziness, severe pain during menses, a range of bleeding problems, and a lack of desire for sex. In the case of Depo-Provera, there can also be a 5-6% loss of bone mineral density after five years’ use, which is only partially reversed in the years after discontinuation.

Among the less common side effects of hormonal contraceptives are the following: blood clots in the veins, lungs, heart, and brain, potentially causing heart attack and strokes; breast cancer; potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy (in which the embryo most often implants in the narrow tube between the ovary and womb); liver tumors; and ovarian cysts.

The link between hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer has been known for over thirty years. The World Health Organization has classified synthetic estrogen and progestin in contraceptives as carcinogenic to humans. According to a major meta-analysis, women who use oral contraceptives before age 20 have a 1.95% elevated risk of developing breast cancer.

There is much more information about all aspects of Catholic living and the latest Catholic news at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

© 2012 USCCB. Used with permission. All rights reserved.