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The Pill Turns 50
Date:5/7/2010

so raise the risk of stroke for some women, especially those older than 35 who smoke, as well as women with high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, the NIH reports.

Some doctors regard the Pill as more natural than menstruation.

"Physicians have come to understand that, in many respects, suppressing the ovarian cycle with birth control pills is more natural than having 500 ovulations in a lifetime," said Dr. Steven Goldstein, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

That's because nature intended women to have fewer cycles by virtue of being pregnant much of the time, he said.

"People worry it's not natural," Goldstein said. "You stop being natural when you don't have eight kids and nurse them all for 12 to 15 months. There's no bottle or formula in nature."

Advocates of the Pill point to unfinished business.

It's only been within the past decade that insurance companies have begun to cover the cost of the Pill. Even then, many women can't afford it, contributing to the fact that the United States has the highest rate of unintended and teen pregnancies among Western industrialized nations, Richards said.

"It [the Pill] has made an enormous difference, but there's still a lot to do," she said.

More information

For more on birth control methods, visit the U.S. National Women's Health Information Center.



SOURCES: Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, New York City; Alexander Sanger, chair, International Planned Parenthood Council, New York City; John Preston Parry, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison; Steven Goldstein, M.D., professor, obstetrics and gynecology, NYU Langone
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