The pill, and reading the small print

The same as every person who has ever written a blog post in their life, one of my New Year's to-do list thingys was to blog more. As I curled up in bed to write a pain fueled rant about the trials and tribulations of The Pill in the form of a Facebook status that no one bar my boyfriend, mum, sister, and close group of feminists friends would read*, I decided to make it into a blog post even less would read.

It's the worst advent calendar you could ask for. Or countdown. "How many days til your holiday?"
"Well I've only got to snake back along my pill packet one more time."

Statistically, The Pill, whichever you may be on, is a real shit show. If you don't find it so, you're a lucky git and I'm very envious. For the record here, I'm not talking about the usual The Pill, I'm on the POP (progesterone-only pill), but POP Pill makes me look like I'm writing a blog post reviewing some weird hormonal legal-but-not-actually-legal-anymore-is-it high.

Despite being the "less side effects" pill that the more common, combined one, it's still bloody awful. Probably with the emphasis on the 'bloody'.

I've spent the day in hellish pain, the sort of hardcore period pain that makes you cry on the way to work and try not to cry as you work and cry as you curl up in a ball, crouched on the floor of your work loos, as for a sweet thirty seconds the hellish pain is relieved a mere 10% by your pathetic, upright foetal position.

So when I got home I had a Google about what the bloody hell was going on, read the leaflet that accompanies the pill, did a lil research. Here's what I found:

  1. The POP gives you mood swings!
    If you've got nothing nice to say, say it in small print.

    This is the only side effect that, to my simple mind, makes any sense. I'm taking a hormone pill, it's going to affect... my hormones. Though I have a conspiracy theory feeling that this might just be listed as a side effect so patronising, sexist people (perhaps men?) can say, "you're being hormonal, you're on the pill". Although men don't usually bother with the second half of that in my experience.
    Either way, I'm sort of willing to forgive this side effect. Makes sense. Though it's still stupid.
  2. Depressed mood.
    Not cool. Not cool especially when you consider how last October saw the MSM finally publish articles on the links between The Pill (all types of The Pill) and being diagnosed with depression.
    And all the time, mental health stigma is not battled, mental health funding is cut, and... does anyone know if an alternative pill that doesn't have links to depression is being worked on? If anyone's knows, please tell me.
  3. Trouble wearing contact lenses
  4. Decreased sexual drive
    Who needs biological contraception when you can just sap a woman's desire to get laid? It would seem The Pill has two lines of attack.
  5. Headaches
    With print this small, anything is a bloody headache.
  6. Nausea
    Might as well stay off contraception and just get pregnant.
  7. Acne
    Do they think that if you look like a young teenager, no one will want to sleep with you? Is this supposed to be a third line of attack? I'd love it if someone explained why this is a side effect.
  8. Breast pain
    This is so vague!! I fear a man wrote it. A man who has no idea how anything (wearing a bra, jumping, existing) can cause breast pain. It's dangerously vague, in fact, when considered in conjunction with number 15.
  9. Irregular periods, no periods, heavy periods, spots of blood randomly, painful periods, general random, chaotic hemorrhaging with no rule or pattern or sense.
    Taking this pill is like Russian roulette but instead of death and a gun, venturing into the public and nice underwear.
  10. Weight increase.
    The life of a female can be perfectly summed up by those men who tell you to go on the pill because [CRYING, BABYISH VOICE] "condoms don't feel good" but also tell you to lose weight. Go away.
  11. Hair loss, excessive hair growth
    Cover all bases, just in case.
  12. Ovarian cysts
    From what I can tell, these cause some vague level of mild discomfort but are 'usually harmless'. I can't find out how you tell if they are, or what harm they do. And none of this is explained in the lovely little guide given with the pills.
  13. Skin conditions
    There are several of these listed. Have a read up yourself if you're worried about anything. I am a feminist satirist not a diagnoser person.
  14. Breast leakage
    Great phrase.
  15. A small link to breast cancer
    Dropped that bombshell right at the bottom of the list didn't they! This is apparently only the case the POP, not combined, but STILL. The hell?
Also, it ain't vegan.

Whilst I was reading and researching all this I kept my boyfriend up to date with all I found. Now, he's met women before, and he's suitably woke (though he thinks it's synonymous with 'sick') so I thought he'd know some of the whirlwind of hell that the pill is, but he was suitably shocked as I found all these warnings. He also seems to (politely) think I'm a bit weird for staying on the pill, but I'm convinced it will settle eventually. Maybe the pill itself has altered my sense of logic.

I'm don't mind taking a pill too much. Recently it's been hell (and after reading all the collateral I can find, I've made a doctor's appointment because my side effects run into the 'not cool' category), but I would be happy to bear some of the brunt. Like, three side effects. But only if those three were headaches, no periods and difficulty wearing contact lenses (I believe nothing should be that close to my eye so I don't wear them).

I'd love it if there weren't any side effects to the pill. But the side effects many women bear day in, day out, when inflicted on males resulted in the halting of trialing a male contraceptive. Women put up with this but a certain group of men couldn't, yet women are routinely displayed as the weaker sex. It's baffling.

As much I want there to be a male contraceptive pill, I would settle for a female one sans side effects. But until then, I wish men would woman up and put up with headaches. And unexpected periods.

*I'm talking mostly about Meg here. Not only will she react to a the status with 'love', she'll comment "yasss slay" or something else wondrously empowering. She once confessed she reads everything I put online. She's my biggest cheerleader.


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