the pill

I spend a lot of time on YouTube. I like to watch all kinds of videos from informational documentaries, vine compilations, and even Sims 4 build/gameplay videos. I’m real keen on those lofi hip-hop channels when I need to zone and get work done.

I’m extremely fond of crack-pot conspiracy theories, getting too involved and sharing them with my friends like it’s the word of God. It’s not all aliens and lizard people, occasionally I stumble upon a video that really speaks to me. Today, it was this gem How Birth Control Made Me Four Different People put out by the New York Times channel.

The video is the story of a woman’s journey through various types of birth control and how it affected her. This video is fucking brilliant, not just for the actual content of the video but how the story is told through visual and minimalist language. It’s comprised of jump cuts of pastel backgrounds and some sort of item to personify the point in the story. For example, when the narrator talks of her debilitating pain during her period and one is shown a shot of a ballerina figurine laying down and queue the dramatic music.

She’s tries everything from the pill, IUD, NuvaRing, to low dose pill. She has various side effects with each;  fluctuating from nausea, 6 month long periods, anxiety and most notably depression. The video ends with an automated voice of a doctor saying

“There’s not much more we can do for you. We can take out your uterus or medically induce menopause.”

Now I know lots of women who don’t have any complaints about their birth control. Or rather, the side of effects of no birth control (debilitating period cramps, other medical issues, etc.) is far worse than the side of effects of birth control.

I went to an abstinence-only high school. It means I never learned about condoms, how they should be used, where to get them, any side effects of them, what kind of chemicals are on them, etc. I didn’t learn about birth control. I learned how a baby is made and I learned about STDs with the impression those are the only results of intercourse.

I was uneducated when it came to sexual health, what options I had, how they worked, what side effects existed. I was never told side effects of taking birth control, I was just given the pill. I tried two different kinds of pills and felt weird with both. I got depressed, I gained weight, I had no drive. It was more or less defeating the purpose of taking the pill, to begin with.

When I was 25, I had the great idea to get an IUD. I went to my OBGYN and told her I wanted the copper IUD because it had no hormones and I hated the way the pill made me feel. She said she couldn’t offer the copper IUD as its only purpose is to prevent pregnancy and she can only give me birth control to “regulate periods” because the practice was affiliated with the Catholic church.

A quick side-step because personally, I don’t care what someone’s faith is but it should not interfere with anyone getting medical attention. Faith should not prohibit someone’s choices in what is made medically available to them. Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable with everything that’s available, you have the choice to not partake in those items. I could’ve gone to another doctor of course, but I felt comfortable with her and honestly didn’t really know what options I had. So I got Mirena.

At first, it was great! Well, I mean other than the fact I had a period of a month straight, but then the periods stopped and I was like “YESSS” because periods suck. Mine get to the point they’re debilitating. I get physically ill or am in so much pain, I can’t move. Not having one for a change was AMAZING. But then I started to notice the same things I had experienced before.

I was getting depressed but it was the kind when you don’t really feel anything; you’re just okay. I felt bloated all the time like a balloon was constantly in my uterus. I wasn’t interested in sex. My skin and my hair looked dull and drab and I didn’t feel like myself at all. I missed the highs and lows of the menstrual cycle.  I never had days anymore that I knew I looked good I was just always kind of okay.

About 10 months after I got the IUD placed, the pain and the spotting started. The spotting I knew was a normal side effect but the pain felt like I was being stabbed on my ovary. It would come out of nowhere and last anywhere from a couple seconds to a couple of minutes. I went back to my OBGYN and told her about the pain. She checked the IUD and we did an ultrasound to make sure the IUD hadn’t perforated and, in theory, everything was fine. I felt like my body was rejecting it. I told her to take it out. Unsurprising to me, the pain I felt stopped. It probably took 3 – 5 months for me to feel like my body was mine again. I still don’t feel I ever got back to the before.

The woman’s video ends with newscasters talking about a birth control for men and how the research was stopped because of the all the side effects like depression and anxiety and a plethora of other side effects that are already known and listed on all birth control for women.

I’m not suggesting anyone should stop their birth control. I knew plenty of people who aren’t bothered by it at all. It is, however, very interesting to think about women having to put up with all of this. That is to question, why is it our sole responsibility to mess up our entire bodies, just avoid an unwanted pregnancy? Why is it okay for women to have endure these awful side effects but when the possibility for men to endure a similar problem, we simply can’t continue the research?

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today. It’s 11:30 PM so I’m just skirting past with this post. Until tomorrow, friends!


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