A Massive Experiment
As someone who has survived a stroke directly related to the birth control pill, you can imagine how strange and challenging it is to read these hearings. Here I am pouring over 1500 pages of testimony from countless doctors who are describing problems, side effects, and dangers of hormonal birth control and as far as I can tell right now, they all seem to agree on two things. One, that putting women on birth control pills was (and I would say, still is) a MASSIVE experiment with millions of healthy women. Two, that there simply wasn’t enough research to understand even the short-term effects, let alone the long-term effects. Though these hearings were 46 years ago, I believe we have yet to discover all the ramifications of this experiment.
They Knew: Pill Induced Stroke
From a personal standpoint, one of the most frustrating discoveries I have made so far was found in the testimony of Dr. David B. Clark, a professor of neurology. Imagine my shock as I read him describing the exact symptoms of my stroke. This was particularly frustrating as my doctors indicated that the reason I was misdiagnosed and left untreated for so long was because my stroke was so highly unusual. And now I’m reading testimony from 1970 that says they knew strokes in young women on hormonal birth control occurred this way. Over forty years ago, these risks (and many more) were identified and, for the most part, ignored. Here is some of his testimony:
“It has been thought for a great many years that spontaneous cerebral vascular accidents are quite rare in healthy, nonpregnant women, especially the younger ones.”- Nelson Pill Hearings, page 6137
So seeing an increase in these should tell us something…
“Further, it was rapidly found, which was embarrassing, I think to all of us, that we did not have a really accurate idea of the incidence of spontaneous cerebral vascular accidents, spontaneous strokes, in young, healthy, nonpregnant women. We did have some comparable information comparing incidence in women with that in men.” -Nelson Pill Hearings, pages 6137-6138
This really isn’t surprising given that women were often excluded from medical research and are still vastly underrepresented in clinical trials.
“In looking at this group of strokes, it seems their time of onset is often prolonged, for days, and even weeks. In a considerable portion of the cases, the onset was marked by premonitory migrainous headache. The patient may have attacks of double vision, they may have transitory weakness in various parts of the body, which recovers for a time: they often report giddiness and fainting attacks, and this finally develops into a full-blown stroke.”- Nelson Pill Hearings, page 6140
These symptoms are almost identical to mine.
He goes on to say that these types of strokes do not appear to be related to arteriosclerosis (hardening or thickening of the arteries) or hypertension (high blood pressure), two normal precursors for stroke. I also had neither arteriosclerosis, nor hypertension.
“So I think it is possible that such premonitory symptoms for days or weeks before the full-blown stroke develops may be a reason for assuming a seeming association with the pill.”- Nelson Pill Hearings, page 6140