Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Laura Ingram: ingesting hormones is bad for you

Listen to Jessica Valenti on *shudder* Ingram's show here. Note to Jessica: you go girl.
Near the end, Ingram goes on a brief diatribe about how taking birth control pills is bad for women because they're ingesting hormones everyday (but of course, because pregnancy is "the natural course of the human body" the havoc played on a woman's hormones is not bad for her -- which I guess is why ...nevermind, another subject for another day). Taking pharmaceuticals that synthesize hormones is bad for you.
I have two kinds of hormones I take daily. Birth control is one of them. The other is a naturopathically prepared synthesized thyroid hormone. One of these pills will prevent me from having to deal with the side effects of a condition that could leave me paralyzed. The other keeps me from losing my focus, getting migraines, keeps my energy level from dropping, and helps treat certain depression symptoms. Now, if you're a doctor, you're gonna know which one is which, but if you're Laura Ingram, I'm guessing you don't know which is which.
But that's not my point. My point in taking birth control is that I don't want to have children, and while it also helps to prevent a condition that could leave me paralyzed (because I have a hole in my spine and having something growing in my body right on top of the place where that hole is could have severe ramifications for my health), I don't really have to justify it. I don't want kids. I just happen to have medical reasons for that as well, and taking those hormones, while it may have an effect on my body at some point in my life is actually less dangerous to my overall health (and I suspect this is the case for a lot of women) than a pregnancy would be.
Now, the second part. The second hormone pill, Levothyroxine...
Our bodies make hormones naturally. During our entire lives, depending on stress level, diet, exercise level, and natural bodily chemistry, our hormones fluctuate. A woman has a cycle of hormone fluctuations and this is what causes various things to occur in our bodies that lead fertility and the much maligned and feared period. Hormones regulate everything in our bodies from the reproductive cycles (for each gender), to level of aggressiveness, even cravings for specific foods. Everything in the body is regulated by hormones. My body doesn't make enough thyroid hormone (which regulates, among other things, metabolism), and as a consequence makes too much thyroid stimulating hormone, called TSH, and that leads to a whole bunch of shit going on in my body including some of the symptoms listed above. So, every day I take a pill with a synthetic hormone called Levothyroxine in it which helps my body to regulate my T3 and T4, and make sure that I'm not producing too much TSH. I have a condition called hypothyroidism, and while it is mild (thank GOD!), not taking that synthetic hormone actually would do more damage to my body than taking a synthetic hormone.
So, once again, Laura Ingram doesn't have a fucking clue what she's talking about. Now, she might say "that's not what I meant!", because, well it isn't. Telling people that taking birth control pills could give you cancer (which I'm pretty sure there's no data to back up) is just another way of taking reproductive options away from women -- especially young women. There are some forms of birth control that are bad for you, (depending on your individual chemistry, your age, whether you smoke, blah blah blah), but a blanket statement like "taking synthetic hormones is bad for you" is not only demonstrably false (see above), but advice like that can actually hurt people. But of course, Laura Ingram is not a medical doctor (again, thank GOD!), so no one would take her advice seriously, would they?
I freaking hope not. I, for one, will be continuing to take my birth control to prevent pregnancy and to manage symptoms of what I think might be endometriosis; and I will also continue to take my thyroid pills every day. Because I know that not taking these synthetic hormones (which my body produces, but not in great enough amounts to do what I need the medicine to do) every day will in fact harm my body and quality of life more than whatever side effects may or may not be associated with taking synthetic hormones every day.


Anonymous said...

From WebMD, on the topic of birth control pills:

"Other factors to consider when choosing a method of birth control include:

Health benefits, such as decreased risk for sexually transmitted diseases with condoms and reduced risk of ovarian cancer and uterine cancer with use of birth control pills for one year or longer."* (emphasis mine)

I don't know where Laura Ingram is getting her information but she's clearly either very gullible or an outright liar.


Nancy said...

You need to discover that levothyroxine is the worst medication ever given to thyroid patients. It's T4-only. The body does not make JUST T4. A better treatment is desiccated thyroid like Armour. You need to read the patient-to-patient website Stop the Thyroid Madness and get the book. Like it did mine, it's changing lives all over the world and doctors are behind the times.

Jessica Valenti said...

Thanks Rachel! Great post.

Rachel said...

Nancy: thank you for taking an interest in my health condition about which you know nothing aside from the fact that it exists. Considering that my doctor has been practicing medicine (allopathic and naturopathic, tyvm) longer than I have been alive I'm pretty sure he knows more about my health than the internet does, so I'm gonna stick with him on this. (To say nothing of the fact that the medication I am taking actually works for me, so I fail to see how it is the "worst medication ever").

Thanks for your concern, though, but I'm pretty sure I and my doctor have it under control. ;)