The Pill: Sex, Drugs and Mood Swings

by Meghan Telpner

Let’s say that I suggested you eat something everyday that could potentially cause weight gain, mood swings, breast tenderness, breast cancer, blood clotting, heart attack and stroke, migraines, gall bladder disease, increased blood pressure, nausea, benign liver tumors, and had no ingredient list to be found, would you eat it? What if I suggested you bathe the cells that make up your body in synthetic chemicals and petroleum waste, oil-slick-style like that wee little unlucky ducky up there, would you bathe in it?

The answer, ladies, is yes. Yes you would. Well most of you would, most of you do and for several years I did too.

Oh The Pill. It has brought us the freedom to have careless sex whenever our sweet little libidos desire. Too bad The Pill kicks the libido to the ground, packs extra junk on to the trunk and makes us crazier than we already may be. I’ll admit I did it from the age of 17 to about 24 I think. I got a little fat, a lot crazy and increased my risk of cancer. Seven years later when I realized this was doing nothing for my health, I went off it and promptly grew a beard. Seriously! My team of estheticians and I have been battling my furry face ever since.

That is what f-bombing around with our hormones does, and that is just the parts we can see.

Before you get your knickers in a knot and email me the thousand and five ways The Pill has helped you manage things like acne, heavy periods, ovarian cysts etc., all I will ask is this, has it healed anything? Has it cured anything? Has it resolved the root of the problem? As long as you are relying on anything to function ‘normally’, the problem or health challenge has not been healed or resolved and that is all I am going to say about that.

I am at a bit of a loss as to where to start with this so here we go with some interesting factoids pulled from here.

* 73 percent of women admit they have purchased one food item over another based on its ingredients
* 60 percent have bought an item of clothing based on its materials.
* Although 82 percent admit to not knowing what’s inside their birth control pills, 74 percent believe there are differences between birth control pills and 71 percent agree that certain ingredients may have certain advantages for them.
* More than 75% of women believe the specific type of progesterone in their birth control pills is important, but only two percent know that drospirenone is a form of progesterone.

Most of us failed to get out of our teens without being prescribed (often on our own request) a prescription drug that we would take daily, for years on end, that controlled something that was not fully developed, and definitely not in a balanced place; the endocrine or hormonal system of our body.

The birth control pill is considered by many to be the most socially significant medical advance of the twentieth century. I can’t help but wonder if the birth control pill didn’t also contribute to the dramatic level of breast cancer in the women who were getting it on free-love style in the 60’s as the first Pill Guinea Pigs. I wonder if the common mood swing side effects don’t contribute to the incredible quantity of mood and nervous system altering drugs we are now being prescribed (what’s a little zanax, celexa and zoloft between friends?). I also wonder if the pill (perhaps better referred to as the estrogen supplement) has also contributed to how digestively dysfunctional most women are through their 20’s, infertile into their 30’s, raving sex fiends into their 40’s and viciously sweaty and angry at all men into their 50’s with menopause.

See, the pill wreaks havoc on our body biochemically, from a hormonal perspective as well as from a nutritional perspective. If we never correct these imbalances, don’t we continue to tip further and further out of balance? Yes we do ladies. Yes we do. And then we grow beards and have to get IVF in order to get knocked up after spending ten years doing our best not to get knocked up.

The pill works by inhibiting the development of the egg in the ovaries. Lower estrogen levels will trigger the pituitary gland to sneeze out the hormone that triggers egg development. The pill, however, releases enough synthetic estrogen to inhibit that hormone from being released. The pill also contains progestin, another synthetic hormone that increases the thickness of cervical mucous and puts a hold on the development of the uterine lining which further helps to prevent the spermees from making its way to any eggy. But since you’ve taken the pill, you of course know exactly how that works, right?

Another interesting factoid I discovered in my research is that shortly after the birth control pill was introduced, the high falooten ladies supposed to be taking it, began to raise concerns about side effects and safety. As early as 1961, reports were circulating claiming that the birth control pill increased a woman’s risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack by causing blood clotting. In 1965, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided a scientist to study the side effects of the birth control pill and established an Advisory Committee on Obstetrics and Gynecology to study the relationship between oral contraceptives and blood clotting, increased risk of breast, cervical, and endometrial cancer. This committee established by the FDA, reported that it had found no evidence to render the birth control pill unsafe for human use. Of course. Does this surprise any of us? I think it would be tougher to find a study done by the FDA that finds any drug, chemical, or any other man-made substance to be unsafe for human use and/or consumption. But goodness forbid hemp be grown in the United States. That would be dangerous.

To its credit, the FDA called for a larger study on the effects of the birth control pill on blood clotting later determining that the pill hadn’t been used long to study these effects. It was also determined that studies as to whether the pill increased risk of breast, cervical, or endometrial cancer were inconclusive and required longer study periods. I think those results are in.

Over the last 30 years, all sorts of new pills have been introduced with lower doses, different doses, different hormone and varying effectiveness ratings with the result being roughly 40 different pills and the freedom for us ladies to try a cocktail of them to determine which make us less crazy, less fat, less blood clotted, less pimply, less ovarian cysty, less edometriosisalicious, and less pregnant. No pill has ever made us healthier, or even healthy.

What is the pill actually made from? And how is it affecting our health?

Over the next week Meghan will be covering issues related to the pill from the health effects, to why we need our periods, to natural solutions, so be sure to visit her blog: meghantelpnerblog.com.

13 Comments

  1. frenchfrysalad
    November 18, 2009

    I hope Meghan at least tries to make it a little less biased by including focusing a little bit more on the reasons woman take these medications (Low birthrates/excessive periods have also been linked to ovarian cancer) and adding RECENT facts, statistics, studies, etc. Let’s face it, in today’s society information flows rampant, and trying to prove your point by using what could easily be considered archaic research is redundant. For instance, I could prove that there are only 8 planets in our solar system or even that the world was flat if I went back far enough into historical research.

  2. Anonymous
    November 18, 2009

    this angle does desperately need to be explored but this article is just radical and condescending. less sensational comparisons to ducks in oil spills and more real content.
    on the other hand, at least raising this subject matter has encouraged me to look into it further.

  3. Anonymous
    November 19, 2009

    Thank the good lord that someone has finally spoken out about the craziness that is the pill. I just went off it about 6 months ago, and forgot that I can indeed naturally be slim and not a deranged female. My long term boyfriend and I have gone back to condoms for my own healths’ sake, and we haven’t been happier. Why? Because I am no longer a hormonal monster. Females have been enthusiastic lab rats for the past 30 years, and I hope wake up sooner rather than later.

  4. megtelpner
    November 19, 2009

    That is all. Aren’t blogs for stating views? This is mine. I encourage you to check my blog for the discussions going on over there among readers and their experiences on and off the pill.

  5. Anonymous
    December 11, 2009

    I’m anti birth control meds too!!!

    I was on the patch for a while (maybe 6-12 months) before I found out that at least a dozen women had DIED from it a few years earlier.

    My doctor (who suggested it) never told me about any complications, but after doing some research online I found out that the patch is even more dangerous than the pill because it releases very large doses, as opposed to the pill which is dosed in smaller quantities. Also the shot is more dangerous as it relies on extreme doses too.

    Aside from that 6-12 months, I’ve been using condoms throughout my 5+ year committed relationship and have never had one fail. While it was nice doing it ‘bareback’ for a while, I’d much rather have the peace of mind that comes with not taking unnecessary medications daily. Also he’d rather use a condom because he never fully trusted birth control and would pull out… which is definitely way more annoying than wearing a rubber.

    Condoms are better anyways because you never know if your partner has been unfaithful. Best to stay on the safe side.

    For acne, just get ProActive!!!

  6. Julia
    December 22, 2009

    Although I’m don’t entirely enjoy the tone of this article (a little too light and/or speculative maybe?) I think there is a lot of good here, the first bit of good being that Meaghan is correct, people, esp. women, do not talk enough about this. The pill’s safety and benefit to women is considered a ‘given’ and if unsafe, negligibly so.

    And although I never attributed depression in my early 20s to the pill (after taking it–mostly– daily for 4+ years), I came off after a severe episode and then went back on a variation of the pill, the NuvaRing, in my mid-20s because that was counseled to me as the “best (read:only) choice” compared to alternatives such as the condom (uncomfortable), the diaphragm or the sponge (necessitating use of spermicide.

    I continued to feel concerned about using hormonal contraception for environmental and health reasons (hormones in the water supplies of the world) and in November 2008 I stopped using it.

    I started reading, reading, reading and discovered the Fertility Awareness Method. This is a method that involves tracking and documenting the signs of your own fertility in order to predict when it is “safe” (no chance of conception) to have sex. It can also be used to increase the chances of pregnancy. There is nothing to take, very little to learn, and just a little abstention from time to time. I encourage everyone interested in alternate methods of birth control to read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. Whether you ultimately decide to practice this method or not (as I have, successfully, for over a year), the knowledge that you will gain about how things work ‘down there’ is priceless. It will certainly cause you to lament your limited sexual education up to this point.

    PS My libido did increase when I went off Nuvaring. Didn’t seem to have any problems with my libido before then but never really had to put it to the test.

  7. jacquelynwest
    January 9, 2010

    this is speculation and another interesting point to consider. I’ve read in past years that fish populations are affected by the high levels of hormones pushed into the water supply by women on the pill. The hormones are changing the physical makeup of certain fish populations making it harder for them to reproduce as they are more and more becoming the same sex?

    Another argument I’ve heard is that the pill actually puts your ovaries to sleep so that your egg supply is held in utero until you are ready to have children. Women not on the pill are at a higher risk of not being able to give birth because their eggs are all used up?

    very glad to stumble on this opinion.

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