My daughter is getting married next month, and her doctor has given her a plastic ring she is supposed to wear to prevent pregnancy. I don’t see how such a thing can work. Can you explain it to me?
The ring given by the doctor to your daughter is probably called a NuvaRing. This is a ring soaked with a hormone mixture that is released very slowly over about three weeks. The ring rests in the vagina, and the hormone (a chemical produced in the body) is absorbed across the vaginal skin. When the ring is removed after three weeks, the menstrual flow begins two or three days later. The hormones from the ring are very similar to those in a birth control pill. The modern birth control pills have much less hormone than in the days you may have taken them. They are better balanced, and just as effective. If taken as directed, a birth control pill works for 99.5 percent of women.
The ring, birth control pills, and even injected contraception such as DepoProvera can all increase the ability of blood to clot, and some persons who have a tendency to clots may find they have complications with the birth control hormones. People with migraine, diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure are probably not good candidates for birth control pills or hormonal birth control.
How does an intrauterine contraceptive device work?
You ask us deceptively difficult questions! We don’t exactly know. Additionally, some of the newer intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs) are loaded with progesterone-like substances (hormones) and probably have more than one way of acting.
Bedouins first used stones placed inside their female camels’ uteruses to prevent pregnancy. Later, a German doctor used a silver ring inside a human uterus. Today, most IUCDs look like a little plastic T, about one inch long. Copper wire, wound tightly around the stem of the T, makes them more efficient, and some have progestin loaded into the stem. Placement is usually done at the end of a menstrual flow, through the cervix (the neck of the womb).
The hormone-loaded IUCD is said to interfere with ovulation, making a pregnancy less likely. Many doctors do not like to use an IUCD on a young woman who has not had children, because of the increased problems in placing the device. Many women have no problems with an IUCD, but problems do occur on occasion when placing an IUCD, the most common being infection.
Why does the church not allow condoms?
Where did this idea get started?
The church does not make statements about what people can or can-not do when it comes to birth control.
A condom is often a piece of latex rubber and, as such, has no morality. Couples who choose to regulate the size and spacing of their family with a condom are perfectly within their rights to do so, and it is really nobody else’s business.
You have probably heard debate concerning the HIV and AIDS issue, in which condoms are recommended by some as a prevention of HIV transmission. The condom can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV by some 85 percent. Thus, a married couple in which one is infected and the other is not can protect the uninfected partner by using a condom. That seems, to us, to be a Christian duty.
Of course, the real prevention is in adopting the biblical standards of sexual behavior. These call for chastity and no extramarital sexual intercourse. If we would all follow this guide, we would come to marriage free of any sexually transmitted disease. Of course, HIV can be transmitted other ways than sexual intercourse, so in that case we could still see some cases of HIV, but fewer than we do today.
Non-Christians, or even Christians, who reject the biblical instruction of abstinence outside of marriage are probably going to commit fornication or adultery anyway, and the condom is a side issue in a problem of morality. It is time we focused on the real problems confronting us and our integrity.
Allan R. Handysides, M.B., Ch.B., FRCPC, FRCSC, FACOG, is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department.
Peter N. Landless, M.B., B.Ch., M.Med., F.C.P.(SA), F.A.C.C., is ICPA executive director and associate director of Health Ministries.