Monday, March 1, 2010

A public rant on Birth Control, a "blogged it out to spare the masses" kind of post

 It sometimes amazes me the criticism I get when people hear what type of birth control method I use.  It ranges anywhere from "oh, you're trying?" to "Ah, the cross-your-fingers method, I see."  As if anyone has any place to ask, let alone comment on such a personal thing. However, that isn't even what bothers me the most.  What gets to me is the lack of information out about women and fertility, and the pop-science that so many ascribe to. The reality is that women are still being severely judged for the type of contraception they use, and blamed for unexpected pregnancy.  We have not come quite the long way we had thought, baby.

I use a natural method of birth control, where I monitor my body's symptoms on a daily basis and use barrier methods when fertile. I have done this for 2 years now (knock on wood) and with discipline and organization, I have been child-free this whole time.  This wasn't my first method of choice, but now there is no way I will go back to any pill. You couldn't pay me.

The reason is three-fold: one, it isn't necessary;  two, it may turn you into a freak of nature; three, it's not always a very safe option (read as: class action lawsuits).

It isn't necessary:  Women ovulate one day a month, and that means they are fertile the day before, the day of, and the day after.  Doing the math, 3 of 30, we are fertile 1/10 of the month.  Men, on the other hand, are fertile everyday.  Everyday. 30 of 30. 10/10. It is in fact the fertility of men that makes the window of conception a little longer. Since sperm can live up to 5 days in the right "environment," the fertile time period is extended to about 10days in total.  About 5 days before ovulation and 5 days after.  I love men, I love my husband, but the simple science here is that it is on you, guys. It's on you. Am I going to take a pill 365 days a year to cover for my 36 days of fertility? Nope. You go on ahead. Thankfully there are options  that don't require over-medicating one of your partners.

It may turn you into a freak of nature: The side effects of the pill suck. My personal experience was that the pill made me the angriest, most weepy little flower on the block.  I was getting mad at the laundry and thought my professor wanted to fail me because I hated horror films. My brain was undergoing massive horse hormone therapy treatments everyday so that I could assure everyone that "we're waiting" "I'm just too irresponsible to be a mother, so we're being responsible with the pill." I'm sorry, please tell me what is responsible about subjecting yourself to a list of side effects that reads like an obituary?

Please read and observe this side effect sheet for me: (Borrowed directly from the Yaz website) "OCs can be associated with an increased risk of several serious cardiovascular side effects, including blood clots, stroke, and heart attack...leukorrhea, diarrhea, vomiting, vaginitis, flu syndrome, moniliasis, allergic reaction, cystitis, tooth disorder, sore throat, infection, fever, surgery, back pain, migraine, dyspepsia, rhinitis, acne, gastroenteritis, bronchitis, pharyngitis, skin disorder, intermenstrual bleeding, decreased libido, pain, increased cough, dizziness, pain in extremity, and pelvic pain."  
How liberating. What is better is the outright rejection of the male birth control pill.  Most men prefer to use another form or even risk the pregnancy.  I once read an article about this where a man basically said the following: “I would rather rely on a solution that doesn’t involving medicating myself and the problems women have had with hormone therapy doesn’t make me eager to want to sign on to taking a hormone-type therapy.” Lastly,  I would be remiss if I don't mention that I suspected the pill worked purely by inducing celibacy. Just saying.

Recap: the round the clock fertile male prefers not to take a pill with lesser side effects. So the default responsibility falls on the woman, obviously, since she is fertile 10% of the time. Leukorrhea anyone?

Finally, it is still dangerous.  Hormone therapy is still developing as a science, and carries a high risk with it.  As a 23 year old woman with little to no health problems, aside from the occasional cold, I don't think I am willing to submit myself to hormone therapies likely to lead to more problems than I had ever dreamed of.  However, a lot of women do submit to it, thinking it is their only option. When issues like the Yaz pill lawsuit arise it feels just a little too late.  Women have DVT, pancreatic cancer, and I know a woman who had to have her gall bladder out, to take the pill.  It just isn't always a great option.

In a time where we have established women as an equal players on so many levels, why is the pill the standard form of birth control?  Why are women who opt out ridiculed? Why does the school nurse talk to teenage girls about the pill but not about the intricacies of her cycle?  This is a major point of frustration for me.

All that said, I was conceived on the pill.  So, "most effective form" that.

Soap Box Done. For now.