The Pill and the IUD
May 1, 2010 2 Comments
I am not asleep or dead; I just have no internet. I’m not following in the footsteps of James Sturm, who decided to quit the Internet on Slate. My internet provider left me in the lurch for two long internetless weeks, and what with moving and cleaning three apartments, I have fallen far, far behind on our correspondence and on pretty much everything else going on in the world.
It’s funny to get in the morning and not have the internet-fix. I thought of you, however, because I was riding the subway and saw a guy on a bike pull out a copy of TIME magazine that had THE PILL written on it in big bold letters. Everybody’s favorite powder-compact made the cover of TIME.
Loved your post about the history of the Pill. Networking. Yes. Who knows if we’re just one conversation away from making a huge difference to something, somewhere?
What interested me particularly about what you said was that the majority of women you know don’t actually use the pill. And yet the medical community pushes it harder than anything else and try to convince young women that an IUD (for example) is not an option for them. More and more women are turning to the IUD, whether or not they’ve had children, because many feel that the pain of insertion and the meaner cramps are a welcome tradeoff for the subtle havoc the pill can wreak. With cramps, at least we know where we stand. (Although nobody, to this day, can explain why the IUD actually works. Doctors mutter things about irritation and scar tissue, but really, it’s the equivalent of witchcraft, which must make it scary to prescribe as well.)
So, what’s going on? Is our generation turning on the pill? As you say, it’s a gateway drug (heh), a way to start controlling your reproduction. And a fine one, except for the fact that it might flatten your libido, making it the most effective birth control in the world because you cannot imagine wanting to have sex. (Honestly, if G.W. really wanted abstinence-only education to work, all he had to do was make birth-control pills available to girls).
I started taking the pill because I had extremely painful ovarian cysts when I was 13. It fixed all that, and for that it will always hold a special place in my heart. Also, it was magic for acne. I thank it for that too.
But. It plays with your hormones in a way that can make you—in subtle, but definite ways—feel not quite like yourself. And that was frightening. And I would have to think long and hard about going back to it. A great triumph for womankind, to be sure, but a potent, more chemically aggressive product than the innocuous powder-compact that disguises it. Makeup—with all its big empty promises, pretty packaging and impotent ingredients—it ain’t.
Fondly, from the internetless hinterlands,