Occasionally, despite my generally laissez-faire, non-judgmental attitude towards sex, there are a few things that perturb me. Rape, of course. Slut shaming. Abstinence-only sex education. And ignorance about contraception. One of the most disturbing manifestations of this that I’ve encountered are ladies who take the pill and have absolutely no idea what they’re putting into their bodies and how it works. Maybe it’s because the pill has become so normalized and routine, like popping Advil, so the complexity of it isn’t apparent, but I definitely feel that once you start playing with the hormones in your body, you need to know what’s up.
1. The pill tries to keep you free of pregnancy in four different ways.
It tries to stop an egg from leaving your ovary. Then, it makes your cervix produce more mucus so neither an egg or sperm can stick. The hormones also prevent the lining of your uterus (or potential womb) from getting thick enough for a fertilized egg to be viable. Finally, the pill manipulates the movement in your Fallopian tubes to prevent an egg from meeting a sperm in the first place. So, it’s a pretty complicated process, and every once in awhile, the pill fails to execute it properly, which is why most of us know, or know of, someone who has gotten pregnant while on the pill.
2. It loses effectiveness if you don’t take it at the same time every day.
One of the reasons the Pill is so popular is because it doesn’t affect your fertility in the long run, which means that if you’re not diligent about taking your pill daily, it does start losing its pregnancy protection magic. So pick a time that is most convenient for you, set an alarm on your cell, and pop it on the regular. If you do miss a pill, here are the guidelines for how to get back on track.
3. Your side effects aren’t going to be the same as your friend’s side effects.
Everyone’s body reacts differently to changes in the hormonal structure. Your skin may clear up while your friend’s looks like she just went back in time to 7th grade, or you may experience consistent spotting while someone else’s periods become non-existent. It’s perfectly normal to have to go through multiple pills to find one that best suits your body and your needs.
4. The pill does not protect against STDs.
I would never deny that the pill has been a major game changer for women, especially in the way that we are able to have agency over our reproductive choices, and we don’t have to rely on men using condoms in order to stay baby-free. However, if you are getting it in with someone new, and you have no idea what their STD status is, please use a condom (correctly).
5. Your birth control shouldn’t make you miserable.
Whether your appetite has been out of control and you’ve been gaining a bunch of weight, or your cramps are unbearable, or you’re spotting a lot in between periods, you don’t have to endure it. If your body hasn’t adjusted after 3 months, it’s time to look into a different option. Whether it’s another pill or an IUD or a Nuvaring, your contraception should not make your daily life uncomfortable at all.
[Image via Calek/Shutterstock]