DEAR ABBY: I am in the military, stationed overseas. My girlfriend, to whom I have been engaged for almost a year, recently came to visit me. One evening I went into her purse to get a pen and came across a package of birth control pills.
We are not having intercourse, so I asked her why she needed them. She claimed that many women her age (27) take the pill for health reasons -- she used some medical terms that I didn't understand.
My ex-wife used to tell me that the pill caused many side effects, so many women avoided it.
Abby, I caught my girlfriend cheating once before, so naturally I am having doubts about her.
I am also confused about the pill issue. Is she trying to pull the wool over my eyes? She had an abortion five years ago. Does that justify her taking the pill? She also takes prenatal pills for "iron," she says.
Please answer soon. I'm going out of my mind with these doubts. -- SUSPICIOUS
DEAR SUSPICIOUS: Your girlfriend could be telling you the truth. According to William E. Merritt III, M.D., OB-GYN, T.H.E. (To Help Everyone) Clinic, and Sydney Hardy, community health educator, UCLA Family Planning Center, women take the pill for a variety of reasons, and in much lower doses than they did years ago when birth control pills caused significant side effects for some women.
Today, many doctors follow the theory that if one takes the pill long enough, it may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. The pill also helps to regulate menstrual periods, reduces or eliminates severe menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), and reduces severe bleeding.
Although prenatal vitamins are most frequently prescribed for pregnant women, some physicians prescribe them for patients who are not pregnant, and later switch the patient to regular iron supplements.
I hope this puts to rest some of your concerns so that you can work on your real problem: the lack of trust between you and your girlfriend since you caught her cheating. Unless you are confident that what she tells you is true, yours is an engagement that should NOT end in marriage.