We need to talk about contraception

Pictured: Arranging contraception usually falls on women (source: Annabelle Shemer via flickr).

By Sarah Harris

The contraceptive pill is easily one of the most controversial tablets in history. Despite the fact that it can prevent you from being a baby mama whilst you’re a university student, it’s easily one of the many contraceptives with the most disadvantages. You’ve probably read a whole bunch of articles about the negative impacts of the pill and heard about several extreme cases in which people have actually died or been hospitalised due to the pill causing blood clots. Doctors have always praised the pill for as long as I can remember. From a young age I’ve suffered from intense cramps during periods and was recently diagnosed with endometriosis. I didn’t actually go on the pill until September despite doctors having encouraged me for years. Since starting on the pill, I’ve gained a ridiculous amount of weight, my boobs have gone up by 3-cup sizes, I’ve become very depressed and my hormone levels are all over the place. It’s interesting that GPs neglect to tell you about the negative impacts of birth control when they first put you on it. The pill isn’t the only form of birth control that has seriously negative side affects. I know a whole bunch of university students who’ve gone on the implant and have suffered from similar consequences.

This isn’t the only reason the pill has caused controversy in the media over the last few weeks. Recently many pharmacies announced they would start serving the male pill. However, within a few days many takers of the pill announced they were experiencing side affects similar to those women had been suffering from for years. Is it right that many women are pressurised to take the birth control despite the clear disadvantages that scientists are clearly aware of, whereas men on the other hand are not pressurised as much to use birth control in any form. Recent studies found that men are less likely to use a condom during sex if they find their partner sexually attractive. I’m sure you’re all clever enough to know by now that condoms work not only as a form of birth control but also as a prevention for STIs. So, is it fair that women are so heavily relied on to take birth control if they don’t want to get pregnant. It seems that most people forget that making a baby involves more than one person and in many cases, women are left on their own when it comes to having to deal with unplanned pregnancies.

Although scientists are trying to advance medicine and eradicate the downsides of the pill completely, they clearly still have a long way to go. In the meantime, more awareness needs to be raised on the serious impact the pill has on both mental and physical health for females. In my opinion, it should be mandatory for doctors to explain that you may experience side effects from any birth control you go on, whether they’re severe or not. It’s also clearly not fair that woman have to carry the burden of taking birth control and even if men can’t take the pill due to side effects, then they can at least have the sense to carry around a condom to not only prevent pregnancy but also to avoid catching an STI. If you don’t already know, the university has a free condom dispensary in the Student Union or you could see if your local pharmacy has the C-Card scheme. It’s crazy to think that almost 10 years after many of us had the whole ‘talk’ in school; people are still relying on females to be taking a form of oral birth control and keep on top of it!

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