The dark side of the birth control pill

This story is from New York Magazine. (H/T Mary)


The Pill changed the world. These days, women’s twenties are as free and fabulous as they can be, a time of boundless freedom and experimentation, of easily trying on and discarding identities, careers, partners. The Pill, which is the most popular form of contraception in the U.S., is still the symbol of that freedom. As a young woman, you feel chic throwing that light plastic pack of dainty pills into your handbag, its retro pastel-colored wheel design or neat snap-to-close box sandwiched between lipstick and cell phone, keys and compact. It’s easy to believe the assurances of the guests at the Pierre gala that the Pill holds the answers to empowerment and career success, to say nothing of sexual liberation—the ability to have sex in the same way that guys always have, without guilt, fear, or strings attached. The Pill is part of what makes one a modern woman, conferring adulthood and cool with the swipe of a doctor’s pen.

[…]The fact is that the Pill, while giving women control of their bodies for the first time in history, allowed them to forget about the biological realities of being female until it was, in some cases, too late. It changed the narrative of women’s lives, so that it was much easier to put off having children until all the fun had been had (or financial pressures lessened). Until the past couple of decades, even most die-hard feminists were still married at 25 and pregnant by 28, so they never had to deal with fertility problems, since a tiny percentage of women experience problems conceiving before the age of 28. Now many New York women have shifted their attempts at conception back about ten years. And the experience of trying to get pregnant at that age amounts to a new stage in women’s lives, a kind of second adolescence. For many, this passage into childbearing—a Gail Sheehy–esque one, with its own secrets and rituals—is as fraught a time as the one before was carefree.

Suddenly, one anxiety—Am I pregnant?—is replaced by another: Can I get pregnant? The days of gobbling down the Pill and running out to CVS at 3 a.m. for a pregnancy test recede in the distance, replaced by a new set of obsessions. The Pill didn’t create the field of infertility medicine, but it turned it into an enormous industry. Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the Pill’s primary side effect.

I remember that this topic came up in Miriam Grossman’s first book, where she was explaining how women spend the best years of their lives pursue degrees and money, and they have no idea how their fertility declines with age! It’s really sad. Speaking as a man, I actually looked into how age would affect my ability to have children when I was in my late 20s.  It’s sad that older women in the feminists movement think nothing of foisting all of these lies on younger women – and sadder still that younger women mostly don’t understand how they are affected by these lies.

Articles like this really scratch where I itch as a person. Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to know how to live the next phase of my life – what would happen next, and how could I be ready. This is what’s behind some of the decisions I’ve made that have protected me from danger. I actually spend a lot of time fretting about fretting about inflation and old age and so on, making plans and carrying them out. Part of it is learning about what I should value as a man – what will fulfill me. So often we don’t pay attention to the traits conveyed by our distinct sex and think that we can undo our nature with drugs, and speculative blind-faith believing and so on – wishful thinking and hoping. But that’s just foolishness. The world is the way it is and we are the way we are. God has made us all with certain desires and needs, and some of them are fairly fixed based on our sex.

3 thoughts on “The dark side of the birth control pill”

  1. Indeed, and sadly true.

    I didn’t have my son until I was 39. I now regret now having him sooner—although to be frank, I’d decided I didn’t want children but then changed my mind. I thank God we didn’t have any problems.
    Unfortunately, this is not the case with a great many others who decide too late; the situation is made all the more difficult by the Feminist Movement which has badly let down (their) side. One can defer adulthood only so far.

  2. And it can kill you. The pill is a Group One carcinogen – i.e. it is KNOWN to cause breast cancer.

    See what this breast surgical oncologist and co-founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute has to say:

    “To show just how much of a threat the pill posed to young women, Lanfranchi pointed to several statistics, including a 2006 Mayo Clinic meta-analysis that concluded that breast cancer risk rises 50 percent for women taking oral contraceptives four or more years before a full-term pregnancy. In 2009, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that women starting the pill before 18 nearly quadruple their risk of triple negative breast cancer. Even more shocking, Swedish oncologist Hakan Olsson concluded that pill use before the age of 20 increases a young woman’s breast cancer risk by more than 1000 percent.”

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