Contraception is an important part of modern life. It facilities a healthy sex life and liberates the young from unplanned pregnancy. The pill is used by millions of women as a means of achieving this. Fantastic. What is not fantastic is that But it has been nearly seventy years for the mental health implications of ingesting further hormones to be given sufficient research and the outcomes made available. Not fantastic. Research remains its infancy and the results are shocking, (take a look at this BBC 2 documentary for reference).
Like many young women I went on the pill in my teenage years, after starting my first sexually active relationship. Never has the fact that the medical community is so weighted towards men been more apparent in the five minutes I spent with the school nurse. The pill was presented as the best option. But worse, like a mouthpiece for the patriarchy, the nurse, whose role was to offer me expert female health advice, asked ‘Now this takes three weeks to actively prevent pregnancy, can he wait until then?’ I was aghast. I thought, can he wait!? Excuse me?
This makes three assumptions, firstly I am going on the pill because I am a commodity for my then boyfriend to enjoy and I must prevent myself from being damaged by his actions. Secondly, that I was not asked if I could wait three weeks presumes I have a lower libido than the male in question and that the sex would purely be about his enjoyment. Thirdly, that this male would of course be a sex deranged teenager unable to control his animal instincts. None of which could be further from the truth.
Several months on, having tried three different forms of the pill it was clear that it was making me unstable. My mood swings were unbearable to me and those around me. I was irrational and spinning out. When I spoke to the doctor about this, I asked if it could possibly be the pill. I’ve never been described as mellow, but this was out of control. The doctor flat out denied that it could be the pill. This is not a unique experience; many women have been told this by their doctors.
It is part of the medical narrative that accepts women have been and always will be hysterical and emotional; therefore it is not unsurprising if they start exhibiting these symptoms. The big pharmaceutical companies don’t want women to know that they could be glugging down another pill of emotional turmoil before breakfast. They want to sell it as female liberation. Thus the research into the mental health implications of the pill have not been funded or even suggested for decades.
Like many other women I have spoken to, I ignored the medical professional, a bold move. I took control of my own health and therefore my life. I went off the pill and never looked back. My mood steadied out and I felt more and more like myself. There are other forms of contraception with the same efficacy that can be utilised.
Just because the pill works for you, don’t scare other women from asking questions about their own bodies and minds and what the relationship between drugging one of them can do to the other.