Emergency contraceptives (EC) are used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, and are usually recommended for only occasional use. Now a review of studies conducted on levonorgestrel (the synthetic hormone used in most EC, including Plan B One-Step and Next Choice) has found that women can use EC safely as regular birth control. The review found that the reported rate of unintended pregnancies in women taking levonorgestrel EC was lower than for those using condoms and spermicides. Oral contraceptive pills taken on a regular, daily schedule and other forms of hormonal contraception are more effective, however. The authors suggest that using EC as birth control may be preferable to using oral contraceptives for women who do not have sex frequently. At an average cost of $50 per use, however, EC is an expensive way to prevent pregnancy for women who have sex more than occasionally.
Obstetrics and Gynecology, March 2011
As the U.S. population ages, more women will be diagnosed with osteoporosis. Many women are suspicious about the osteoporosis prevention claims made by pharmaceutical manufacturers, and skeptical that these drugs may cause health problems in the future. New research suggests that nitroglycerin ointment, which is typically prescribed to relieve chest pain, may counter bone loss and prevent osteoporosis. In a two-year study, 243 post-menopausal women received either a nightly dose of nitroglycerin ointment or a placebo ointment. When compared with women who received the placebo, women who used the nitroglycerin ointment showed a 6.7% increase in bone density in the spine, a 6.2% increase in the hip, and 7% increase at the top of the thigh-bone (femoral neck). The results are promising, but further research is needed to examine if the ointment prevents fractures before it can be used as a standard treatment option.
Journal of American Medical Association, February 2011
A common anti-choice myth is that abortion leads to mental illness (the so-called “post-abortion syndrome”). In 2008, the American Psychological Association found no evidence linking abortion with mental health problems in adults. Two recent studies replicate those findings for both adults and adolescents. The adult study used National Comorbidity Survey data and found no significant relationship between abortion history and subsequent mood or anxiety disorders. The youth study involved 289 respondents to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine depression and low self-esteem as possible abortion outcomes in a nationally representative group of youth. It found that induced abortion does not cause mental health problems in adolescents. Both studies found that previous mental health status, rather than the abortion experience itself is the strongest predictor of post-abortion mental health. Study authors note that laws requiring women be told about abortion’s potential psychological risks provide misinformation and “jeopardize a women’s health by adding unnecessary anxiety and undermining a women’s right to informed consent.”
Guttmacher Institute, 2010