“Why I Hate the Pill”

salonWith the media coverage surrounding the birth control pill’s introduction 50 years ago this month, I’ve been re-listening to the CDs from the League’s Contraception Is Not the Answer conference.

One of the best talks given at the conference was a presentation entitled “Hormones ‘R’ Us”, in which Dr. Janet Smith discussed the negative impact of chemical contraceptives on women’s bodies, minds, and relationships.

Having just listened to Dr. Smith’s talk last week, I was interested to read a recent Salon column titled “Why I Hate the Pill” written by Glamour editor Geraldine Sealey.

Make no mistake, Sealey writes as someone who sees nothing wrong with non-marital sex and contraception — and yet her column confirms a great deal of what Smith, et al. have been saying for years about the problems posed by the pill (and other forms of hormonal birth control generally).

After citing Guttmacher Institute statistics indicating that 4 in 10 women using contraception are not happy with their current method (due to “bad physical side effects, diminished sex drive and difficulty of use,” among others), Sealey notes:

In my own life, female friends and acquaintances have abandoned hormonal birth control for a variety of reasons. It made them nauseous, moody or depressed, caused unacceptable weight gain, paralyzing migraines or breakthrough bleeding, put them at risk of blood clots, or drove their blood pressure to dangerous heights. Or they were just damned sick of taking pills every day. “I was a crazy woman on birth control,” says Dr. [Cindy] Basinski, who’s had her own personal battles with the pill over the years. “Out of control emotional. I used it on and off for 13 years and really struggled with it.” In her practice, Basinski sees patient after patient who want off their pills. “Many women just don’t feel good on them,” she says.

She goes on to speculate as to why research and development on new methods of contraception isn’t exactly bustling these days:

Most pharmaceutical companies have withdrawn from investing in contraceptive R&D, perhaps due to fears of costly personal injury litigation. And those fears aren’t necessarily unfounded. A reported 1,100 lawsuits have been filed in the United States against Bayer HealthCare alone, mostly by women claiming health problems such as blood clots, strokes, heart attacks and gall bladder disease after taking the popular pills Yaz and Yasmin.

Reading Sealey’s lament over the misery she and millions of other women have experienced due to the pill and other forms of hormonal birth control — to say nothing of the environmental damage caused thereby — one can’t help but point out that there is one possibility that stands, like an elephant in the living room, ostensibly ignored and as yet unconsidered:

Could it be that contraception itself is the problem?


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