By Ashby Strauch
Women chose to start “the pill” for a variety of reasons from trying to better regulate their period to seeking better control of their reproductive system. Forty percent of college women take birth control pills, according to the American College Health Association. But many women are unaware of the side effects of birth control pills.
Birth control pills typically consist of two different hormones, estrogen and progestin. There are hundreds of different types of birth control pills, so most women are able to find one that their insurance fully covers or is affordable. The birth control pill is one of the most accessible forms of contraception in the United States, which has given women greater control over their bodies.
Because birth control pills have such a positive impact on so many women’s lives, the side effects aren’t always discussed, but for some women, birth control pills have greatly impacted their lives.
“I just felt completely out of control,” says Mara Kofoed, who took birth control in her late thirties.
She hadn’t been on the birth control pill in about 11 years. She noticed a change in herself almost instantly after beginning to take it. She had been on birth control for years when she was younger, but she didn’t notice the emotional toll it took on her mental health because she didn’t know herself as well then.
One of her most pervasive symptoms when she was on the pill was a general sensation of numbness. She also feels she wasn’t nearly as spiritual, creative or intuitive as she is off the pill. She wasn’t able to handle situations in her life that she normally would have been able to with grace. She would get angry easily which put a strain on her marriage and friendships. She even tried three different types of pills, but all of them still had side effects.
Katie Lee, an interior designer, was on birth control for 10 years before she started getting headaches. She tried just about everything to get rid of her headaches. One day, while she was researching them online, discovered that one side effect of birth control is headaches.
She did research, talked to her doctor and decided to try an alternative form of contraception, the Fertility Awareness Method. Through this method, women use an app on their phone to track their cycle to know when they are fertile. All you have to do is enter your temperature when you first wake up in the morning, take note of your cervical fluid and mark when you are on your period. This way, women know when they are most likely ovulating, so they know when to refrain from having intercourse.
Samantha Evans, a sexual health educator through GatorWell at the University of Florida, advises that women who try the Fertility Awareness Method to use condoms, but it is not possible to definitively know when a person is ovulating without a test kit.
She also says that contraception is ultimately a woman’s choice because it is important to let women choose which method they want to use. Typically, most women can find a birth control pill that doesn’t cause a great deal of side effects.
Katie discussed how birth control was impacting her health with her fiance, and she told him that she wanted to try this alternative method. It has been two years since Katie has been on the pill, and she does not miss it.
This process can be frustrating and long for some women because artificial hormones affect some women more than others.