Four women talk to me about the side effects of birth control.
A little over a month ago I was at the salon and my beautician Charlotte started telling me how she’s beginning menopause. My initial reaction was shock. If you’ve seen her you wouldn’t believe it either.
Charlotte is only 36 years old. She’s newly married and wants to have kids. But what troubled me the most is that she’d been going through the early stages of menopause for five years and didn’t know it. Her birth control pills had been masking the symptoms.
WTF?! Since hearing her story, Charlotte has changed her diet, stopped having hot flashes, started having her period again, and is going to a fertility specialist. Which is great for her, but I’m still bothered by the situation. Did I mention that I’m not a fan of birth control pills?
Now, I understand that the pills weren’t the cause of her early menopause (she said it runs in her family). And I won’t go as far as to say that the pills are to blame for her uphill battle to conceive a child. But, that doesn’t stop me from questioning: 1) the risk women take when on hormonal contraceptives 2) the doctors who recklessly prescribe them and 3) why women are fertile for shorter periods of time than men, yet we’re the ones that carry the burden of adding hormones to our bodies.
I needed to talk to someone about Charlotte’s dilemma. Honestly, I’ve heard enough from the doctors and pharmaceutical commercials about how one pill will clear up my face and another will make my period disappear (Am I the only one frightened by that?). I wanted to speak to women who had taken these pills, just to see if my skepticism was warranted. So, I interviewed four women: Lisa, Kenrya, Ragnar and Janna.
Each of them had a unique story on why they started taking the pill and the effects it had on their bodies. Kenrya and Lisa had a similar story to mine. We all had the can’t-go-to-work-school-or-anything-that-involves-moving menstrual cramps growing up. And our doctors prescribed the pill to fix our “irregularity.” The difference is, I’ve been off the pill for over a decade and Kenrya is taking the pill as if her life still depends on it. Be sure to watch the video (below) to learn why.
WATCH KENRYA’S STORY:
Duration: 4 mins, 25 secs
SOCIALLICKS.COM: When did you start taking birth control pills and why?
Janna (age 29): I was in college. I was 20 and I was on Ortho Tri-Cyclen. I had a steady boyfriend at the time and I went to the college health center. They were more than happy to give me Ortho Tri-Cyclen.
Lisa (age 39): The first time I was on the pill I was 17 years old. I started taking it because I had very bad periods. Terrible cramping. Vomiting. And then [my period] started coming every 2-3 weeks. So the doctor gave it to me as a way to regulate my period. I ended up taking it, at that time, for almost 3 years.
Ragnar (age 28): I went on birth control in February of 2007. I remember it because it was a really significant event for me. I was with my current boyfriend and we’d been together for about six months and up until that point we really hadn’t been using any form of birth control except for the pull out method, which was far from thorough. I didn’t get pregnant, fortunately, but I was nervous every month.
Kenrya (age 28): I was 17. I was not sexually active when I started birth control. I was having issues and it was the best thing for my health. It was probably another year and a half or so before I started having sex.