There are some days when I feel like I am keeping a shameful secret because I don't use hormonal birth control. After all, I'm an enlightened, empowered women and didn't The Pill give all enlightened, empowered women complete and total freedom?
Well, er, no. Not for me at least.
"Freedom" in family planning does not look like pumping my body full of synthetic hormones or implanting a foreign object into my flesh in order to do the pumping for me, especially when I spend an extra freaking 10 minutes in the grocery store every week trying to find a chicken that hasn't had anything artificial injected into her body before joining our family on my dinner plate.
The truth is, you don't have to be some kind of religious zealot to find the idea of hormonal birth control for non-medical reasons completely creepy. When I came across an article by a writer, who I think is pretty much a rock star, who proclaimed that she would never use hormonal birth control either, I rejoiced. You don't have to be a weirdo if you don't use hormonal birth control!
Some women are also unable to use hormonal birth control for various reasons, not the least of which include the sometimes crazy side effects, and the medical community really hasn't focused on finding better, safer solutions. Even the non-hormonal option for birth control, the copper IUD, causes some pretty scary complications, like super-heavy bleeding and perforated uteruses. Oh, and then there's the small fact that combined estrogen-progesterone birth control is listed as a known carcinogen to humans. NBD, guys, really, go ahead and just swallow that pill that makes drug companies millions of dollars because of course they have female health as their primary concern, not profit, because history has a pretty good track record with valuing women and their bodies.
Sometimes it really boggles my mind that we can be so concerned about what we are putting into our bodies through a tiny vaccine but yet ingest artificial hormones that impact every single system in the body. I won't go all microbiology on you here, but hormones — and their fluctuations — control every thing about the way our bodies work. So in my mind, if we are going to question every other piece of advice in the medical community, we certainly can't turn a blind eye to the safety of what is a very powerful drug. The pill has only been in approved use for 54 years and it's been constantly changing in form since then, so there really aren't any good studies yet that have been done on its safety and impact in the long run.
Now, of course, I'm not going to pretend to sway you one way or the other when it comes to birth control. I'm just here to say that I don't think women should feel weird if they don't want to take birth control, and that they shouldn't blindly take birth control without doing their own research and considering the side effects and impact, just as they would any other decision in life. Just because hormonal birth control means no kids, it's not a miracle, risk-free drug. It still warrants a conversation about how women's bodies work and the fact that there are other options for avoiding pregnancy, like fertility monitors that aren't your old-school idea of natural family planning, if hormones just aren't your thing. Because options are kind of where this whole thing got its start, right?
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