I was on hormonal birth control for seven years. This is not rare or unique, many women go on it and are on it for much longer. We're taught that it's totally and completely normally to take synthetic hormones for years and years and years. Because it beats making sure the guy wears a condom, right??

Well no, because (honestly no surprise to me), birth control pills are shown to alter women's brains.

What. The. Fuck.

Before I even thought to research it (and honestly, I still never have), I knew birth control changed things. I had the normal sex drive of a 20-year-old straight college female, and almost instantly after going on the pill, that sex drive plummeted. Did I question if I should be on the pill or not? Of course not! I didn’t want to get pregnant! The risk of getting pregnant seems to trump pretty much everything else in a straight college female’s mind.

But did I even research being on the pill? And the side effects? No, of course not. EVERYONE was on the pill. So it can’t be bad, right? Besides the pill of the 2000s is so much better than the pill of the past – lower doses of hormones. So why fret? Just keep taking it.

So I dealt with the lack of a sex drive, and my now-husband dealt with it. I also realized that ever since I went on the pill, my moods levels off. I no longer had lows, but I also no longer had highs. One of my friends pointed out I seemed (much more) jaded. Did I question taking the pill? No, of course not. Hey, it was nice not to get the blues every now and then. Even if it meant a small fraction of excitement over stuff that would normally excite me.

After a few years, I started asking my gynecologists about going off hormonal birth control (by this point I was on the ring) and trying something non-hormonal, because of my lack of sex drive. I was given these options:

1. Condoms. Not so good because they make my husband go soft, and he can’t really fake it like I can. [Sigh.]
2. Diaphragm. Apparently so few women go on these that my gyno commented “wow I haven’t fit someone for one in awhile!” I immediately changed my mind on being fitted for one.

Also my gyno reminded me that the both options had higher failure rates than hormonal birth control. So that scared me into sticking with the hormones.

But I still hated it. I hated the lack of sex drive, and not really feeling life myself. I hated knowing that it had been years since I actually felt like my self. And I hate that our culture just pumps young women full of synthetic hormones without really questioning the effects, or if the effects are worth it. Sure beats being pregnant, huh?!?! So don't complain! It's so convenient and easy!! Just a little pill! Perfectly harmless ...

Eventually I discovered the fertility awareness method. The ultimate method for a woman to be in control of her body; it can be used to avoid pregnancy and also improve your chances of getting pregnant when the time comes. But despite the high success rates, most women probably have no idea what it is (I’m guessing they would think it’s the rhythm method - which is the act of abstaining during fertile times). No gyno I’ve ever talked to has suggested it as an option.

And why is that? Is it because it requires much more action by the women, and we’ve seen how well some women do taking the pill every day, so imagine how they’ll do with a method that requires a bit more attention! Ha ha ... those airheads. 

However, when it comes to reproductive rights, it’s all about choice. And how can a woman make the right choice for her when she isn’t even told all of her options? We’re told our options for avoiding pregnancy are condoms, hormones, or abstinence. The diaphragm is archaic and inconvenient, based on the way it was sold to me by my gyno. Pulling out is too risky and doesn’t give women control over their own bodies (they have to trust their partner will pull out in time). Spermacide is only sold as a supplement to another, more trusted form of birth control. And the rhythm method is only for the crazy religious. I didn’t learn about the fertility awareness method until a rather enlightened friend of mine talked about it on her blog.

In the meantime, widely used hormonal birth control may be altering our minds. I totally and completely believe that it is. Yet will hormonal birth control go away anytime soon? Doubtful. I posted a link to that story on my Facebook page, and the only comment I got was how funny some of the article’s comments are. Not, “holy shit that’s fucking scary why are they still shoving it down our throats and peddling it like candy??”

Although I’m surprised I haven’t seen the religious right jumping on this story as proof that birth control is evil. Or maybe I just do a really good job of avoiding their filth on the internet.

In the meantime, I will continue the fertility awareness method (supplemented by spermacide of course!). And one day when I have daughters, there is no way in hell I’m letting them go on birth control. Although maybe, just maybe, our society will be enlightened enough that we won’t be shoving hormones down the throats of teenagers because it’s too hard to teach high schoolers about condom use.

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