Birth Control’s Environmental Impact

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes to us from Anna C. Christensen, a regular contributor to the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona blog. I asked Anna to comment on an article from On the Issues regarding the environmental impact of birth control, since Anna has been writing an excellent series of posts for PPAA about sexually transmitted infections. When it comes to science topics, Anna knows her stuff. I hope you’ll find this post as fascinating as I do.

The birth control pill has given millions of people the ability to decide whether and when to have children, and its arrival on the scene in 1960 coincided with increasing concern about population growth – so not only was it seen as a force of liberation for women, it was seen as a tool to stem the tide of the world’s expanding population. Many proponents of zero population growth thought they could end poverty and hunger through the stabilization of the population – as well as conserve the Earth’s finite resources. Lately, however, the birth control pill and other hormonal contraceptives have received negative attention for their apparent ability to introduce endocrine disruptors into the environment.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) get their name from their ability to interfere with an organism’s endocrine system, which regulates hormones, or a body’s “chemical messengers.” This can wreak hormonal havoc on wildlife, affecting their development, fertility, and immunity. Therefore, EDCs have the potential to decrease or eliminate entire populations of creatures that happened to live in the wrong place at the wrong time. [Read more...]