A major UK medical journal says that the birth control pill should be available to women without a prescription, since it has been shown to prevent deaths from ovarian cancer. Another British medical journal is investigating whether consistent condom use can reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections other than HIV.

In the January 25th edition of the Independent, Jeremy Laurance writes: “The contraceptive pill should be made available to women over the counter after the largest study of its link with ovarian cancer showed it has prevented 100,000 deaths from the disease worldwide.”

The distinguished medical journal The Lancet medical journal says “the pill” has been used for 50 years and it?s time for it to go OTC. It bases this on “dramatic” findings from a huge study of ovarian cancer in 21 countries which show that the pill sharply reduces the risk of developing ovarian cancer and that this protective effect INCREASES the longer the pill is used. This protection lasted for more than 30 years after women stopped using the pill, which is especially important because ovarian cancer is more common in older, post-menopausal, women. However, it?s doubtful that the current administration will let this happen in the US, due to fears it will increase sexual promiscuity.

For people who are sexually active, condoms remain the best solution to reducing risks of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (if uninfected) or transmitting these infections (if infected). Condoms are an effective physical barrier against passage of even the smallest sexually transmitted pathogens.

In the British Medical Journal, researchers Markus Steiner and Willard Cates report on a recent review of condom-related prevention approaches which concludes that condoms do not increase unsafe sexual behavior and that they do prevent the spread other diseases besides HIV. The reason they’ve gotten some bad press in places like the US is, again, the fear that their use will lead to increased pre-marital sexual activity.

Men: if your sperm becomes damaged (should you have any left to damage) due to exposure to environmental toxins and pesticides, you can pass these genetic defects on to your children, which can persist for generations. Among the things that can damage sperm are smoking and drinking.

BBC News reports that “sperm defects caused by exposure to environmental toxins can be passed down the generations.” Fathers who expose themselves to toxic substances?either intentionally or by accident?may not just damage themselves but also their heirs.

BBC quotes fertility expert Neil McClure as saying, “My advice to young couples would be moderation. Substances that have an impact on reproduction are often also carcinogenic. If I was a young man I would not drink very heavily and not smoke two packets of cigarettes a day while I was trying to conceive a child.”

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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