The unspoken world of birth control pills and their side effects -A Jane Story
Jane had been taking birth control pills for over 10 years now. She remembered the day her doctor prescribed them to her when she was still a teenager, as if it were just yesterday. The thought of being able to regulate her moods and menstrual cycle made Jane feel grateful; no more painful cramps or unpredictable behavior due to “unpredictable” hormones.
At first, Jane was blissfully unaware that the effects of these pills were trickling down into her life, with headaches, nausea, mood changes, and decreased libido among others. But gradually, she began to realize that something wasn't quite right - something dark and sinister seemed to lurk beneath the surface whenever she took them.
"...She now has high blood pressure.."
It wasn't until one day when Jane found herself at her cardiologist office to find out she now has high blood pressure, caused by these pills and should immediately stop taking them. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. The same pill she took for 10 years is causing her high blood pressure for life, and no one ever warned her about it. An overwhelming feeling of dread and despair – feelings so intense they left tears streaming down her face. She felt betrayed by all her previous gynecologists. She must now take medication for high blood pressure, for the rest of her life.
It was then that Jane knew deep within her heart that there was more going on than what meets the eye – something far devious than just controlling acne and regulating menstrual cycles...something much darker at play here than she could have anticipated. What else did these pills do besides “regulate” hormones?
Jane found herself delving into the depths of the internet, searching for any information she could find on hormonal contraceptives. She had been taking them for ten years and it seemed like no one knew the toll they would take on her body. But try as she might, there was nothing concrete online about how these pills actually worked or what kind of side effects they caused in women who took them long-term.
"...she hadn't ovulated in the last decade?"
It was clear that the pill prevents ovulation, but Jane couldn't help but wonder if this meant she hadn't ovulated in the last decade? And if not, then why were there still periods? How could you have periods without ovulation? Incessantly scratching at a particularly nagging itch in her mind, Jane returned to her research with redoubled effort.
Soon enough though, frustration set in due to all of the scattered information available online surrounding contraception - especially when it came to long term use. After days spent trawling through medical journals and website after website only yielded more questions than answers even Jane's most determined attitude began to falter until almost giving up late one night feeling defeated by lack of knowledge around such an important topic. She finally found some conversations on forums such as Mumsnet and Reddit, confirming that she was far from alone in her struggle to find answers. She listened intently as they discussed the combined oral contraceptive pill and its effects on the body.
"...could trick her body into believing it was pregnant..."
At first Jane was astonished to learn that this small pill could trick her body into believing it was pregnant by releasing artificial versions of two female hormones – oestrogen and progesterone. What else were we being tricked into believing?, thought Jane. Then she heard something even more shocking: the “period” you get while taking these pills wasn't actually menstruation–it was withdrawal bleeding caused by low levels of hormones! This meant that all those years on the pill, Jane hadn't ovulated or had an actual period at all–what effect did this have on her body?
That night, Jane lay awake pondering what she had learnt from talking to these women about contraception. It made her realize how little we know about our bodies, and how there is so much lack of information, or awareness. None of her friends knew about this. How could this be?! And at the same time, she couldn't help but feel concerned about what other unknown side effects there might be lurking beneath a contraceptive pill… Still intent on finding out more however, Jane vowed to keep searching until she got some answers; no matter how much digging it would require..