The promise of an effective contraceptive pill has been an irresistible convenience for a great many women over the last half century. With more than 300 million of us having at some time been on the Pill and a hundred million plus currently taking it the Pill is clearly a very popular drug.
If you’re fertile, sexually active, and at a stage of life you don’t want babies, or more babies, or not just yet anyway, then the issue of contraception is a BIG one. You don’t want to get pregnant, you’d rather not face an abortion and you may be willing to make compromises just to feel secure. With a feeling of security about your contraception it’s easier to relax and enjoy your sex life.
However, most women who have ever been on the Pill have been aware of side–effects to a greater or lesser degree. That’s why Pill–use peaks in women in their early to mid–twenties, and tapers off as they find other means to regulate their fertility.
The Pill is a drug
The Pill is a unique drug in that it’s designed to interfere with one of your normal bodily functions—with fertility itself—and the only prescription drug used long term that does so. Different to all other drugs the Pill is taken by healthy young women whose only problem is their fertility. While it’s often used for menstrual problems the Pill wasn’t initially designed to deal with these kind of health issues.
A great many of the commonly experienced side–effects of the Pill are disconcertingly similar to some of the more unpleasant symptoms that can accompany pregnancy. This is not surprising really. To be an effective contraception the Pill induces a biochemical state in the body more like pregnancy than normal fertility. It does this by stopping ovulation, making cervical mucus impenetrable and the lining of the uterus unreceptive to implantation by an embryo.
Biochemically speaking, the Pill induces a state similar to pregnancy so that you won’t get pregnant.
Many girls and women using hormonal contraception will have several side–effects at the same time.
Most commonly these include mood swings, depression, appetite changes, weight gain and loss of sex drive.
As far as your body and contraception are concerned, we encourage you to listen closely and take note. Take the time to observe and trust your own perceptions and reactions. This will help you to know what effect the drug does or does not have on your body. Also, take the time to learn about other methods so that you have real options and alternatives.
Some side–effects are a direct result of introducing synthetic chemicals to your body, which mimic but are not identical to the hormones you naturally produce. These synthetic hormones are approximately four times stronger than your natural hormone levels.
While the influence of a mechanical contraceptive procedure or device is more likely to be limited to a specific area of your body chemicals are distributed throughout your body via your bloodstream and affect all organs and processes.
All the drugs we take have side–effects, the Pill is no different the big question we all struggle with is whether the side–effects are worth the benefits.
Often the risks and side–effects of the Pill are weighed against the health risks and side–effects of pregnancy.
This would be valid if there were no other way to avoid an unplanned conception, but there are many. And, the good news is that there are lots of alternatives which don’t interfere with your biochemistry. Later we’ll look at different approaches to contraception, and how to find out what’s most suitable, and will work best, for you.
This article is generously shared by Jane Bennett, co-author of The Pill: Are You Sure It’s for You?
Jane has over 30 years of experience as a facililator, counsellor and educator and is passionate about celebrating menarche, menstrual wellbeing and holistic conception.