Pills for pigs

What might have been news bizarre elsewhere was a top story on my Houston Chronicle the other day. The wild pig population in Texas is out of control and researchers are looking to oral contraceptives to combat the problem:

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service estimates the hogs cause $50 million in damage each year.

But the answer may be coming from a lab at Texas A&M University, where a team of researchers is testing an oral contraceptive for the hogs and other pests. It may even become applicable for pets like cats and dogs.

Duane Kraemer, a professor of veterinary physiology and pharmacology who heads the team at Texas A&M, said ranchers and farmers who hear about his research want to know more, “but development of an oral contraceptive for an animal that people eat and is to be released into the environment is a complex issue, no question about it.”

The contraceptive, called a phosphodiesterase 3 inhibitor and in development for about a year and a half, is now in a capsule form and has been fed to captive pigs at the university’s research facility.

“It does appear to be effective,” Kraemer said, in preventing the females’ eggs from maturing.

“The animals can continue to cycle and breed,” Kraemer said. “Their behaviors are the same, except they don’t get pregnant.”

It’s also important to note that test pigs have gobbled up the pill mixed with Oreos.


Walgreens: 1. CVS: 1.

As far as birth control goes, I used to always make an effort to spend my money at Walgreens instead of CVS. CVS keeps their condoms locked up to prevent theft, which also means to embarrass people. I can testify. Walgreens lets their condoms be free and lo, the company hasn’t been run into the ground by thieves. Imagine.

After a conversation about birth control prices with a friend of mine who’s also on Yasmin, I decided to transfer my prescription from Walgreens to CVS. When I refilled my prescription today, I paid 50% of what I paid at Walgreens last month. I don’t know how that could have anything to do with my insurance, but I’m also writing this post before I do any research about this at all. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for Walgreens to mark up prescriptions either, but at least for now, I’m spending money against my conscience. Will research and follow-up soon.

Jenna Bush has been in the news and blogs a good amount lately due to her wedding last weekend. A lot of the blogs I read and most of the blogs I avoid have talked about Jenna only to make fun of her, so I just want to come to her defense and point out what a smart, pro-contraception lady she is.

A lot of people still picture Jenna as a chronic underage-drinking party girl, and I don’t think they’re to be blamed. That’s the image that a lot of liberals love because they disagree with her father’s policies and think that means they should make fun of his daughter too. What Jenna has really been up to lately is interning for UNICEF in Latin America and writing books. Her book Ana’s Story is about a 16-year-old HIV-positive mother who is based on a girl Jenna met while working for UNICEF. In the book, Jenna writes that abstinence is great, but that it’s important to use condoms if you do decide to have sex. That makes so much sense coming from her because she’s smart, savvy, and maybe even a little bit progressive. She also surprised what seems like everyone but me the other day when she appeared on Larry King and said she hadn’t decided who to vote for in November.

I’m totally using Jenna’s pro-birth control stance as an excuse to defend her here, but I really do think it’s important that we start divorcing her politics from her father’s because they’re hardly even similar. Jenna does good work and I hope she’ll continue to be a powerful voice for comprehensive sex education.

License to pill pt. 2

I’m glad that I used probably the best headline I’ll ever think of on a post that got so much attention. Birth Pangs put together a list of all the pro-choice bloggers that wrote about the American Life League’s The Pill Kills campaign, including this one, and I thought I’d link to all those fine blogs myself. Below the fold you’ll find a pretty comprehensive list of pro-choice resources on The Pill Kills. Continue Reading »

Public Citizen, a public interest non-profit, is petitioning the FDA to ban the Ortho-Evra patch. They go into great detail comparing the patch to the pill, with a couple major complaints:

  • 60% more estrogen on average exposure;
  • greater variability in estrogen levels;
  • a possible two-fold increased risk of venous thrombosis (typically, painful blood clots of the leg which can travel to the lungs and cause death);
  • increased risk of side effects such as breast discomfort, severe menstrual pain, nausea, and vomiting;
  • a 50% increased likelihood of discontinuation;
  • no improvement in contraceptive outcomes.

I think on the surface, it looks like Public Citizen brings up a good point that if the efficacy doesn’t increase with the risks, using the patch doesn’t make sense. But it’s definitely true that some women have better results (fewer side effects) with the patch than they do the pill, just like when you compare any hormonal contraceptives. That’s even the case with different oral contraceptive brands. So with that in mind, I think it’s a better idea for Public Citizen to try to raise awareness about the risks involved with different contraceptive options without trying to limit choices.

I promise that I didn’t start a blog just to link to my friends, but how can I help it when they’re such good photographers? My girl Meredith started a photo blog with pictures she’s taken at concerts. Meredith is a nice girl who shares my well-cultivated appreciation for LOLcats, regular cats, and keeping in touch poorly. Check her out!

License to pill

Feministing has a poll up about birth control methods that got a lot of interesting comments, especially about some that are more innovative or long-term like the implant, sterilization, etc.

H/t to another of my A-list blogs, Pandagon, for directing me to The Pill Kills. It’s an online campaign to make birth control illegal because it’s dangerous for women’s health and it hinders the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus (i.e. kills babies). The best estimate I can find for the numbers on breakthrough ovulation and rates of fertilization says that this occurs maybe 1% of the time. A lot of feminists, like in Amanda Marcotte’s post, believe that the real motivation behind things like this is to keep women from controlling their fertility. I think it’s true that in a lot of cases, a scary video and a dramatic list of side effects are a cover for a thoughtless, across-the-board opposition to birth control. I also don’t think the pill is quite so liberating as some feminist writers believe. The control that it gives a woman over her fertility also comes with the burden of birth control being placed entirely on her–remembering to take it every day, paying for it, dealing with the side effects, etc.

I’m not meaning to say that I think the pill is bad or that it’s a tool of oppression or anything like that, and I obviously don’t think it should be illegal, but reading about this campaign just led my thoughts this way. This is just to say that it’s hard to liberate women from every kind of oppression when it comes to birth control, and even though I and most women don’t feel particularly burdened by taking the pill, there is some unfairness to it. Male birth control, anyone?