AS part of activities to commemorate World Contraception Day this Wednesday, Global Manager for Bayer Worldwide Dr Philip Smits will be a special guest at a conference being hosted by Trinidad based public relations firm Sandra Welch-Farrell and Company.
Smits has worked extensively with various organisations such as the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. The doctor, who is from Holland, was trained as an internist at the Medical Centre Alkmaar of Holland. He has also worked in the evaluation of the benefits and risks of combined hormonal contraceptives. He is the author of numerous scientific publications and has exhibited at numerous worldwide scientific activities on this topic.
During his visit to the island, Dr Smits will be talking to journalists, customers, healthcare practitioners and pharmacists about contraceptive needs, the benefits associated with oral contraceptives, as well as the risks and myths associated with the usage of contraceptives.
The doctor noted that while the major benefit of the oral contraceptive is the prevention of unwanted pregnancy, other benefits include a significant reduction of ovarian cancer and colon cancer. For women with skin problems, taking the pill can cause them to see an improvement in their condition.
"There are significant amounts of benefits that goes way beyond unwanted pregnancy," Smits told All Woman in an telephone interview Thursday.
But while the benefits are many, Smits said one of his goals while here, is to get physicians to recognise the risks also associated with the pill.
"The pill is not a vitamin but a drug which has side effects just as other drugs," he said.
One of the risks include an increased risk of blood clots.
"Anybody can develop blood clots," he said. "But the risk of developing blood clots while on the pill is two to three times more than in persons who are not."
He pointed out that women who are obese should not be put on the pill as this can in fact increase their chances of blood clots.
In addition to providing effective contraception, combined oral contraceptives have additional benefits such as lighter and less painful menstruation and a reduction in the risk of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and ectopic pregnancy.
The following is a list of 11 common beliefs about contraceptives which are in fact myths:
1. Women should take a break from the pill once in a while.
2. The pill is not safe and it produces birth defects.
3. Long-term use of the pill can affect fertility.
4. All contraceptive pills are basically the same.
5. Women who smoke cannot take the pill.
6. The only use of the pill is for birth control.
8. The pill causes cancer.
9. Stopping or postponing the period is risky when using the pill.
10. Women over 35 cannot use the pill.
11. The regular use of the morning after pill is a good contraceptive method.