Friday, April 28, 2017

Filipino netizens support #LiftTRO petition on contraceptives to battle polycystic ovarian syndrome

The Purple Ribbon for RH Movement launched an online petition last November 2016 addressed to the Supreme Court of the Philippines appealing for the high court to lift the current Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) regarding reproductive products (including contraceptive pills, implants specifically Implanon and ImplanonNXT). 

According to the Purple Ribbon for RH Movement, this TRO will affect 13.4 million Filipino women of whom 6.1 million are currently using contraceptives, and 7.3 million with unmet need for modern family planning. 

The TRO restrains the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from granting and all pending applications for recertification of "reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices" and the Department of Health (DOH) from "procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing, or administering, advertising or promoting Implanon and ImplanonNXT". 

Should this TRO continue to be in effect, a total ban on contraceptives & other reproductive products will happen. According to some women, some brands of oral contraceptive/hormonal pills have run out of stock in pharmacies. And this is causing them to panic. The TRO will contribute in the rising cases of unintended pregnancies especially among young couples and especially among adolescents. More Filipino mothers will be at risk of childbirth-related complications that may kill them. More than five thousand Filipino women will be at risk of dying while giving life. 

As of posting time, this online petition has now reached 25, 239 signatures and is still increasing. 

But what are the reasons why Filipinos are supporting and signing this online petition to the Supreme Court? Here is one of the most common reason why they are supporting the online petition and shared their opinions as well:

...because hormonal pills help them manage their PCOS and regulate other hormonal imbalances.

So what is PCOS? It is not the automated voting system in this case but it is condition where a woman's hormones are imbalanced causing her to have irregular menstruation cycles making it difficult for her to bear a child. 

Most women with PCOS develop small cysts on their ovaries. Though it does not cause physical harm, it causes hormonal imbalance and if left untreated this could lead to diabetes and other heart problems. 

So how can contraceptive pills help women with PCOS? 

Apparently, birth control pills are also called hormonal pills as many of them (in pills, vaginal rings, skin patches, or implants) have combined estrogen and progestin hormones as their main components. These hormonal components aid in correcting and regulating menstrual cycles and bleeding. 

According to the Global Health Data Exchange developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) by the University of Washington, most Filipino women die from PCOS within the peak of their reproductive years (around 20 to 35 years old). 

This also means that PCOS is a disease of women of reproductive age. According to Dr. Darlene Estuart, a known obstetrician and gynecologist in Davao City, about 10% of women aged 20-40 have PCOS. 

What happens if about 10% of Filipino women, that is about 10.7 million women of reproductive age basing from the Philippine Statistics Authority data, will have PCOS? What will happen to them should they fail to access treatment to manage their hormonal imbalances? 

They lose their years of healthy lives over time. And they will die even before reaching the age of 60.

The Philippines belong to the Top 20 countries in Asia (4th in ASEAN) where women die of PCOS (Global Burden of Disease Study, 2013).

Filipino women do not want to die, they want to live for themselves and for their families. Just as Patricia points out: 

Lifting the Temporary Restraining Order will help millions of women in the country to once again access safe and effective contraceptive pills which can help Aiza and thousands of Filipinas who are battling PCOS.  

If you are one of these women or you believe that Filipinos have the right to their own bodies and in accessing safe and effective family planning and reproductive health products

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