When thinking about sustainability, birth control pills are the last thing you would think about.
It’s not surprising that birth control pills contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment (specifically marine life) and have a long list of side effects for the people who take them (hence the blanket-sized information sheet that comes with each pack of birth control). So what is in birth control that makes it so harmful? Let’s talk about it!
The active ingredients in Lo Loestrin are Norethindrone acetate, Ethinyl estradiol, and ferrous fumarate (don’t worry I can’t pronounce them either and I have a Biology degree). Norethindrone acetate is a synthetic form of the naturally produced hormone, progesterone, which inhibits ovulation and prevents pregnancy (98% of the time, wear protection kids). This synthetic hormone is considered to be an irritant, a health hazard, and an environmental hazard by the National Library of Medicine. It is also considered to be a carcinogen, making it potentially cancerous... BIG YIKES!!
The second active ingredient, Ethinyl estradiol (the synthetic form of estrogen), is also a marine toxin. Interesting fish fact: they actually have a greater number of estrogen receptors than humans, so when this hormone ends up in the water, Ethinyl estradiol can affect both their behavior and genetics. I don’t know about you, but I find that a bit problematic.
Clearly, there is a huge problem with the chemicals used in birth control. Of course, birth control MUST remain available and accessible for everyone who needs it, and I don’t want to scare anyone who takes it as there are so many great benefits. I DO want to encourage scientists to invest more time and money into research about possible different chemicals to use in birth control that are less harmful to the body and the environment.