The birth control pill is hugely successful for millions of women, but for some, it simply doesn’t work. Over the weekend, many young women shared their experiences on Twitter with the hashtag #MyPillStory.
The hashtag was inspired by the story of 30-year-old Holly Brockwell, who recently wrote about her four-year-battle to get sterilized and the difficulties she faced persuading doctors that she knew she didn’t ever want to have children. Nor did she want to take hormonal birth control any longer after experiencing some unpleasant side effects.
After Brockwell’s story made the news, one man advised her on Facebook to “simply go on the pill.”
Brockwell couldn’t hide her anger, replying: “Do you know what it’s like to bleed for a month? Have you spent mornings off work because you’re throwing up from hormones you don’t need to put in your body?”
She then posted on Twitter, “Alright I’m done with men telling me to take the pill. I try not to go into the gross side effects but a lot of people think the pill is some magic thing that works for everyone and IT DOESN’T.”
Tech journalist Kate Bevan then asked women to share their birth control pill experiences with #MyPillStory, and stories of anxiety, depression, heightened PMS, loss of libido and other negative side effects began to appear.
Headaches, severe mood swings, nausea, vomiting and the autoimmune issues I have were all gifted to me from hormonal bc. #mypillstory
— 🥕Haley Stewart🥕 (@HaleyCarrots) April 4, 2016
it took me 8 different pills to find one that didn't give me crippling migraines or mood swings or nausea 2 weeks out of 4 #mypillstory
— Haywards PicallEllie (@Ellayanor) March 31, 2016
Took the pill when I was 18 cried everyday for a year, high anxiety, no libido, no idea what was going on until I stopped #mypillstory
— Hayley 💖💜💙 (@H3tzel) March 31, 2016
— Phoebe (@PhoebsBo) March 31, 2016
After stopping hormonal birth control my breasts produced milk for over a year, It is very painful and I've never been pregnant #MyPillStory
— Dannia Colín (@danniacc47) April 3, 2016
The hashtag has led to a wider discussion of female contraception, with one British advice columnist, Dr. Petra Boynton, urging doctors to think twice before prescribing it. She tweeted: “I’d encourage healthcare staff who provide contraception to check out #MyPillStory and remember to offer+explain ALL appropriate choices.”
However, others have been keen to share their positive experiences of the pill, and a spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency advised women to continue taking their contraception:
“Women should continue to take their contraceptive pill. These are very safe, highly effective medicines for preventing unintended pregnancy and the benefits associated with their use far outweigh their risks.
“In some women, hormonal contraceptives can initially cause side effects, most commonly headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings.”
With far too many places in the world where birth control and abortion aren’t readily available, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the birth control pill is the best choice for many women. Rather than demand that doctors stop prescribing the pill, #MyPillStory should be taken as it was intended — an important conversation about women’s rights to have control over their reproductive health.