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Getting Informed

Do you know everything there is to know about contraceptives, STIs/STDs, morning after pill, adoption, abortion, post-abortive syndrome, fertility or natural family planning? The Lake Superior Life Care Center wants to help you gain the knowledge needed to make decisions regarding these topics.

Birth Control Pills
“The Shot” Depo-Provera
“The Patch” (Ortho Evra)
Sexually Transmitted Infections/Diseases
Morning After Pill
Post Abortion Syndrome
Natural Family Planning


What is Contraception?
It is an artificial method of manipulating the natural biological functions of the reproductive system in order to prevent pregnancy.

What it does…
It is important to remember that whenever we administer something artificial into our bodies in order eliminate or suspend reproductive functions...we are opening ourselves up to serious side effects and complications.  Our society has desensitized us to the terminology "side effects" to the point that we gloss over the true meaning of what that might entail.  No matter what your decision is about contraception - it's important that you make an INFORMED decision.  You have the RIGHT to know what you are putting into your body, what it will do to you in the long run.  

You have the RIGHT to know that there is another option...a safe option that puts YOU back in control of your fertility...your biology...your health.

What you NEED to know about the following before you decide to use the following:
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Depo Shot
  • IUD's
  • Ortho-evra
  • Norplant
  • Condoms
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What is the Birth Control Pill?11 
The birth control pill is any drug which uses artificial hormones to keep a woman from getting pregnant or from staying pregnant by interfering with her normal fertility.

What it is...
There are several types of the Pill on the market, but they basically break down into two groups: combination pills and progestrin-only “mini-pill.”2

The combination type contains two artificial steroids that mimic the effects of naturally occurring hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Some pills work in a “monophasic” way, keeping the dosage of hormones the same throughout the pill cycle. Others work in a biphasic or triphasic manner which alters the dosage of artificial hormones two or three times respectively through the cycle of pills, attempting to produce fluctuations similar to what a fertile woman would undergo naturally.

The progestin-only “minipill” uses only one artificial hormone, progestin, which is a steroid that has a progestational effect similar to natural progesterone.

What it does…  
Suppresses Ovulation
Both pills act to prevent the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). However, women can and do experience breakthrough ovulation – meaning that an egg is released from the ovary and is available to be fertilized by the sperm.

Prevents Fertilization
Both types of pills also cause the cervical mucus to thicken, making it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg. It is possible, though, for the sperm to break through the mucus and to fertilize the egg.

Inhibits Implantation
Both types of pills change the lining of the uterus. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the five –to-seven-day-old baby to attach to the lining of the uterus, where it would receive the nourishment needed to grow. If the baby does not successfully attach to the lining of the uterus, he/she dies and is expelled from the body during menstruation. This process is known as a chemical abortion and is why the Pill is referred to as an abortifacient.

The lower the dosage of the pill, the more likely it is to work by causing a chemical abortion. Other birth control methods that cause chemical abortions (abortifacients):

  • All Hormonal Contraceptives
  • Depo-Provera (the shot)
  • The IUD
  • Ortho-Evra (the patch)
  • Norplant
  • Nuva ring
  • “Emergency” contraception (Morning-After Pill, Plan B)
Important warnings:
There are possible side effects with the use of any type of birth control pill:
  • Cycle irregularities: bleeding or spotting mid-cycle, changes in menstrual flow, and even loss of menstruation.
  • Painful menstruation (dysmenorrheal)
  • Headaches; migraines
  • Depression
  • Decrease of sex drive
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating, weight gain or loss, and water retention
  • Nausea; vomiting
  • Not effective against sexually transmitted infections
  • And more…
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What is Depo-Provera? 
Depo-Provera is the marketing name for the most widely-used injectable method of birth control in the world (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, or DMPA).3

What it is…
Depo-Provera is a long-acting, man-made hormone. It has been available in some parts of the world for 20 years or more and has been used by doctors specifically to abort children. That is why Depo-Provera was not approved in the U.S. until the mid-90’s.

Important warnings:
  • Some common side-effects:
    • Headaches
    • Weight gain
    • Mood swings
    • Abdominal discomfort
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue
  • Not effective against sexually transmitted infections
Serious risks are rare, but include heavy bleeding, sterility, increased risk of cervical cancer, adrenal gland suppression, hair loss, depression, decreased sex drive, and risk of breast cancer.

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What is an IUD?
An IUD is an intrauterine device made of plastic and/or copper that is inserted into the womb (uterus) by way of the vaginal canal.

What it is…
One type releases a hormone (progesterone), and is replaced each year. The second type is made of copper and can be left in place for five years. The most common shape in current use is a plastic "T" which is wrapped with copper wire.6   

Important warnings:
  • The IUD has some possible side-effects:
    • septic abortion-infection that can cause high fever, endometriosis and other complications
    • continuation of pregnancy-potentially dangerous for baby and mother
    • ectopic pregnancy-fatal if not discovered in time
    • pelvic infection which can lead to sterility
    • embedding the IUD in the uterus which is very painful
    • perforation of the uterine wall or cervix
    • perforation of the urinary bladder
    • spontaneous abortion
    • backache
    • copper toxicity (Wilson's disease)-poisoning of the organs
    • anemia-decrease in red blood cells causing weakness and lack of energy
    • localized pain that persists each time ovulation occurs
  • Not effective against sexually transmitted infection
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What is Ortho Evra?
Ortho Evra is a thin beige patch that measures 1 3/4 inches on each of its 4 sides. The transdermal—or "through the skin"—weekly birth control patch attempts to prevent pregnancy by delivering continuous levels of the hormones norelgestromin and ethinyl estradiol (progestin and estrogen, respectively) through the skin and into the bloodstream.10

What it does…
Hormones from patches applied to the skin get into the blood stream and are removed from the body differently than hormones from birth control pills taken by mouth. You will be exposed to about 60% more estrogen if you use Ortho Evra than if you use a typical birth control pill containing 35 micrograms (mcg) of estrogen. In general, increased estrogen exposure may increase the risk of side effects.

Important warnings:
  • The patch has possible side-effects:
    • Nausea
    • Breast symptoms
    • Headache
    • Emotional Liability
    • Blood clots
    • Stroke
    • Heart attacks
  • Not effective against sexually transmitted infection
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What is NuvaRing…
NuvaRing is a flexible contraceptive ring that is about two inches in diameter. The ring is self-inserted into your vagina once a month. The muscles in your vaginal wall will keep the ring in place for three weeks. During that time, it will slowly release hormones into your system in an attempt to prevent pregnancy.9

Important Warnings:
  • Some possible side-effects:
    • Headaches
    • Elevated blood pressure
    • Bleeding irregularities
    • Ocular lesions
    • Blood clots
    • Stroke
    • Heart attack
    • And more…
  • Not effective against sexually transmitted infections
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What is Norplant…
It is a birth control method that requires the surgical insertion of six flexible rods into the arm of the woman who will be using it. The rods contain a chemical called levonorgestrel, a man-made hormone. This chemical is slowly released into the woman’s body. One insertion of six rods will last for up to five years.8

Important Warnings:
  • Some possible side-effects:
    • Discomfort in the area of the arm where the rods are surgically implanted
    • Difficulty in surgically removing the rods
    • Increased bleeding and spotting associated with the period and sometimes in between
    • Changes in blood pressure
    • Risk of heart attack
    • Headaches
    • Increased body weight
    • Blood clotting
    • Mood swings
    • Ovarian cysts
  • Not effective against sexually transmitted infections
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What is the condom?
A sheath made to cover the penis before intercourse to attempt to prevent the sperm from joining the egg.

What it is made of…
The sheath may be made of thin latex, plastic, or animal tissue  

What it does…
Acts as a barrier to attempt to prevent sperm from reaching the egg.

Important Warnings:
  • Condoms slip or break from 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent of the time.
  • Less than half of 15- to 19-year-old males report using a condom consistently over the past year.
  • Not effective against sexually transmitted infections
  • Some side-effects:
    • Reaction due to an allergy to latex.
    • Loss of sensation
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What is the difference between Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Sexually Transmitted Infections?12

STI – Sexually Transmitted Infection occurs when a pathogenic organism(s) is present in the human body, causing an infectious process but not a disease. Not all STIs result in the development of a STD.

STD – Sexually Transmitted Disease results from damage caused by a Sexually Transmitted Infection that has progressed. All STD’s are preceded by STI(s). These terms are often used interchangeably.

Some facts:
  • By age 24, 1 in 3 sexually active people will have contracted an STI.
  • Women are biologically more susceptible than men for STIs.
  • Adolescent females are at higher risk to certain STIs than are adult women due to anatomical differences of the uterine cervix associated with age.
  • STIs can cause permanent damage to reproductive organs leading to infertility.
  • 4 out of 8 most common STI’s are incurable: Genital Herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B (HBV).
  • Many infected with a STI have no signs or symptoms.
  • STIs can be spread by shared needles in the use of drugs, body piercing and tattooing.
  • STIs can be spread by vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
  • Some STIs can be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby.
  • Nearly 50% of all new STIs diagnosed are in 15-24 year olds.
  • There are over 35 different kinds of STIs.
  • STIs are contagious even when no symptoms exist.
What are the signs?
Here are some of the most common symptoms of STI/STD(s):

  • Abnormal discharge from the penis
  • Burning with urination
  • Pain or swollen testicles
  • Sores or warts on external genitalia, lips or mouth, tongue, nose, throat or anus
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • NO Symptoms
  • Abnormal discharge from the vagina
  • Burning with urination
  • Pus-like discharge
  • Pelvic pain
  • Vulvar itching, burning and/or pain
  • Wart-like growths on external genitalia, lips or mouth, tongue, nose, throat or anus
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Abnormal PAP Smear
  • NO Symptoms
Think you might have an STI/STD? Click here (www.stdwizard.com)

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What is the Morning After Pill?
The morning after pill (also known as emergency contraception) is promoted as a quick and easy answer for unprotected sex, but there are some important things you should know before taking the pill.7

What it is…
The morning after pill comes in two forms: Progestin-only pill and Estrogen and Progestin combination pill.

The morning after pill contains the same hormone as regular birth control pills, but the dosage prescribed is several times the strength of a daily birth control pill.

What it does…
The morning after pill works like a birth control pill.  See section on Birth control pills.

Important warnings:

The morning after pill has possible side effects:
  • Approximately 1 out of 4 women studied experience menstrual bleeding and nausea.
  • Approximately 1 out of 5 women studied experience abdominal pain, fatigue, and headache.
Other side effects include:
  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Breast tenderness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
Also, you may be at an increased risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy developing somewhere other than in the uterus) should you take the morning after pill and become pregnant. Ectopic pregnancies can be, on rare occasion, fatal if you are not able to identify it and get medical attention immediately.

You Have Options:
Only eight out of one hundred women will become pregnant after a single act of intercourse during the middle two weeks of their menstrual cycle (during the approximate time of ovulation). By taking the morning after pill, you may be putting yourself at risk for no reason.

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What do I need to know about adoption?
(See Your Options – Adoption)

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What is it?
An operation or other intervention to end a pregnancy by removing an embryo or fetus from the womb.

What it does…surgical abortion?4

Early Non-Surgical Abortion
  • A drug is given that stops the hormones needed for the fetus to grow. In addition, it causes the placenta to separate from the uterus, ending the pregnancy.
  • A second drug is given by mouth or placed in the vagina causing the uterus to contract and expel the fetus and placenta.
  • A return visit to the doctor is required for follow up to make sure the abortion is completed.
Possible Complications
  • Incomplete abortion
  • Allergic reaction to the medications
  • Painful cramping
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Heavy bleeding
Vacuum Aspiration Abortion
  • A local anesthetic is applied or injected into or near the cervix to prevent discomfort or pain.
  • The opening of the cervix is gradually stretched with a series of dilators. The thickest dilator used is about the width of a fountain pen.
  • A tube is inserted into the uterus and is attached to a suction system that will remove the fetus, placenta and membranes from the woman’s uterus.
  • A follow up appointment should be made with the doctor.
Possible Complications
  • Incomplete abortion
  • Pelvic infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Torn cervix
  • Perforated uterus
  • Blood clots in uterus
Dilation and Curettage Abortion
  • A local anesthetic is applied or injected into or near the cervix to prevent discomfort or pain.
  • The opening of the cervix is gradually stretched with a series of dilators.
  • The thickest dilator used is about the width of a fountain pen.
  • A spoon-like instrument (curette) is used to gently scrape the walls of the uterus to remove the fetus, placenta, and membranes.
  • A follow up appointment should be made with the doctor.
Possible Complications
  • Incomplete abortion requiring vacuum aspiration
  • Pelvic infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Torn cervix
  • Perforated uterus
  • Blood clots in uterus
Dilation and Evacuation
  • Sponge-like tapered pieces of absorbent material are placed into the cervix. This material becomes moist and slowly opens the cervix. It will remain in place for several hours or overnight. A second or third application of the material may be necessary.
  • Following dilation of the cervix, intravenous medications may be given to ease discomfort or pain and prevent infection.
  • After a local or general anesthesia has been administered, the fetus and placenta are removed from the uterus with medical instruments such as forceps and suction curettage. Occasionally for removal, it may be necessary to dismember the fetus.
Possible Complications
  • Blood clots in the uterus
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Cut or torn cervix
  • Perforation of the wall of the uterus
  • Pelvic infection
  • Incomplete abortion
  • Anesthesia-related complications
Dilation and Extraction
  • This method may be performed between 20 and 32 weeks gestation.
  • Sponge-like tapered pieces of absorbent material are placed into the cervix. This material becomes moist and slowly opens in the cervix. It will remain in place for one to two days. A second or third application of the material may be necessary.
  • After a local or general anesthesia has been administered, the fetus and placenta are removed from the uterus with medical instruments such as forceps, suction and curette (a spoon-like instrument). It may be necessary to dismember the fetus.
Possible Complications
  • Risks are similar to childbirth
  • Uterine infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • High blood pressure
  • Rare events such as blood clot, stroke or anesthesia-related death
What it does…chemical abortion?
  • RU 486, Mifepristrone (within 4 to 7 weeks after LMP)
This medical abortion is used for women who are within 30 to 49 days after their last menstrual period. This procedure usually requires three office visits. The RU 486 or mifepristone pills are given to the woman who returns two days later for a second medication called misprostol. The combination of these medications causes the uterus to expel the fetus.1

Important Warnings:
According to Life Dynamics Incorporated, you have rights regarding abortion:
  • You have the right to insist that your abortion is performed by a licensed physician.
  • You have the right to know whether this physician has ever had his or her medical license suspended.
  • You have the right to know if this physician has a history of medical malpractice.
  • You have the right to verify that this physician has medical malpractice insurance to protect and/or compensate you in case you are injured or killed during the procedure.
  • You have the right to insist that if you are injured during the procedure you are to be immediately transferred by ambulance to the nearest emergency hospital or trauma center.
REMEMBER: Regardless of your age, marital status or any other factor, no one has the legal right to make you have an abortion.13

If someone is trying to force you into this decision against your will,
contact LSLCC 218.727.3399 or 715-394-4102 or call 800.395.4357.

What do I need to be thinking about before I make an appointment for an abortion?
(See Your Options – Abortion)
(See Three questions you need to ask yourself if you're considering abortion)

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What is Post-Abortion Syndrome?5
If a woman chooses to have an abortion in order to bring a personal crisis to an end, often times she is left facing a number of monumental barriers to moving through the process of grieving her loss, or even recognizing that she has experienced a loss at all:
  • There is no external evidence that her baby ever existed (no pictures or other memorabilia).
  • She may not believe that she has the right to grieve a loss that she has chosen to create.
  • There is no public forum for grieving the loss of her child (no memorial service or eulogy).
  • The support system that usually gathers around a bereaved mother is very limited, or absent altogether, for the post-abortive woman (because in most cases few people are even told about the procedure; the ones who do know aren’t likely to be excited about rehashing it afterward).
  • If she confides in someone who did not know about the abortion, she risks disapproval or rejection.
  • The preparation for the abortion rarely includes any discussion of the possibility of emotional issues – especially grieving – afterward.
  • If she is troubled enough by feelings of distress after the abortion, a woman may seek help from a counselor who may not understand post-abortion syndrome.
A post-abortive woman may not have her grief validated as a normal and predictable grieving process; and as a result, she may repress her feelings of sadness and anger. Without an opportunity to work through it, the grieving process is interrupted and may not be resumed until years later.

What it does…
Some symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome:
  • Guilt (results from violating one’s own sense of right and wrong).
  • Anxiety (headaches, dizziness, pounding heart, abdominal cramps, muscle tightness, difficulty sleeping, etc.)
  • Avoidance behaviors (of anything remindful of pregnancy and children)
  • Psychological “numbing” (the unconscious vow to never let anything hurt this badly again can hamper the ability to enter fully into an emotional, intimate relationship)
  • Depression (sad mood, sudden and uncontrollable crying episodes, deterioration of self-concept, sleep and appetite disturbances, reduced motivation, loss of normal sources of pleasure, thoughts of suicide)
  • Re-experiencing events related to the abortion (persistent thoughts and flashbacks memories or nightmares involving themes of lost or dismembered babies)
  • Preoccupation with becoming pregnant again (representing an unconscious hope that a new pregnancy will replace the baby that was aborted)
  • Anxiety over fertility and childbearing issues (being convinced that God will punish by withholding future pregnancies)
  • Interruption or disruption of the bonding with present and/or future children (underbonding or overbonding with other children, whether born before or after woman has an abortion)
  • Self Abuse/self-destructive behaviors (eating disorder, alcohol and/or substance abuse, cigarette smoking, abusive relationships, promiscuity, failure to take care of one’s self medically)
  • Anniversary reactions (an increase in symptoms around the time of the anniversary of the abortion, the due date of the aborted child or both)
  • Brief psychotic disorder (a psychotic break with reality lasting for a short period of time within two weeks of the abortion)
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What is fertility?
Our body’s capacity to breed or reproduce/ to get pregnant/ to develop offspring.

What happens…

Some facts:
  • Men are fertile all the time.
  • Women are fertile approximately 5 days in a month.
  • Healthy vaginal discharge (cervical fluid) is the number one sign that a woman is fertile.
  • Estrogen is a hormone that causes the cervix to produce cervical fluid.
  • Cervical fluid is for sperm to swim.
  • When healthy cervical fluid is present sperm can live for several days in a woman’s body.
  • An egg can live for approximately 12-24 hours.
  • A new human life is created when the sperm fertilizes the egg.
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What is Natural Family Planning?
Natural Family Planning is a system of observing a woman’s cycle of fertility and timing sex accordingly.

What happens… 

Some facts:
  • NFP is up to 99% effective (if both the man and woman attend classes and work together to track her symptoms every day).
  • NFP is not difficult to learn.
  • It’s free (except for the initial cost for the classes).
  • There are no unhealthy side effects.
  • It increases communication between the couple.
  • It increases romance because you find other ways to show affection.
  • It increases respect, especially for the woman.
The divorce rate for couples who practice Natural Family Planning is less than 5%. 8

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  1. Before You Decide. 2003. Carenet
  2. Birth Control Pills: How They Work. 1999. American Life League
  3. Depo-Provera. 1997. American Life League
  4. Fertility Appreciation.
  5. Healing After Abortion. 2002. Focus the Family. www.family.org/pregnancy
  6. IUD. 2007. American Life League
  7. The Morning After Pill. CareNet
  8. Norplant. 1997. American Life League
  9. www.nuvaring.com
  10. www.orthoevra.com
  11. The Pill: How does it work? Is it safe?. 1993. The Couple to Couple League
  12. STI/STD Facts Sheet. 2007. ULCC
  13. Patient Rights for the woman who is seeking a legal abortion. 2004. Life Dynamics Incorporated