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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Contraceptive side effects are out of control

Kaya Donah

If you know someone who takes a form of birth control, you’ve probably heard different stories about it such as, “I can’t control my emotions while taking birth control,” or “I feel different taking this medication.” It is not uncommon for people to feel this way while taking hormonal birth control.

People shouldn’t have to worry about the way medication makes their bodies or minds feel. I don’t want to be just a side effect of birth control. I wish birth control didn’t come with problems.

While there are different types of birth control pills, there are also different methods of birth control, like the intrauterine device (or IUD), patches and shots.

The contraceptive pill has  been around since the 1960s, and not much has changed to make the recipes gentler on peoples’ bodies. All individuals who take birth control take it for different reasons. Some take it for heavy period pains and cramping, while some use it as a second layer of protection against pregnancy.

I use birth control to manage a hereditary hormonal imbalance. I take the medication because it’s a necessary health requirement, but once I started it, things started changing.

Birth control made me feel like my problems were bigger than they were. My anxiety and depression skyrocketed, becoming worse than they have ever been. The people around me saw a huge decline in my mental health. Some days I just couldn’t get out of bed. Other days it felt like I was on cloud nine.

If you or someone you know is experiencing serious changes from the pill like I am, you’re not alone.

Sarah E. Hill, a professor of women, health and sexual psychology at Texas Christian University, covered issues with birth control in an article for TED.

“Almost half of all women who go on the pill stop using it within the first year because of the intolerable side effects, and the one frequently cited is unpleasant mood changes,” Hill said.

There’s a very obvious need for improvement with birth control, but investments for contraceptive research are hard to come by. In 2020, there were only 23 industry-funded clinical trials into contraceptives, compared to 600 for cardiovascular drugs and 140 for treatment for optic disorders, per The Conversation. How long will people have to wait for change?

The connection between birth control and mental health concerns more than the everyday person. Celebrities are not exempt either. Actress Natalie Portman openly discussed her time taking birth control in her 2015 Harvard commencement speech.

“There were several occasions I started crying in meetings with professors, overwhelmed with what I was supposed to pull off when I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning,” Portman said.

According to an article written by Dr. Laurie Ray for cycle tracking company Clue, a Danish study recognized that “current users of (combined oral contraceptives) were more likely to be diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants for the first time than people who weren’t currently using them.”

Doctors prescribe birth control in an effort to help patients, ease pain or protect them. Knowing that it’s ailing them instead of aiding them is sickening. If we were talking about a more common medication instead, people would be much more receptive. Contraceptive health isn’t acknowledged by a larger audience, this is a huge part of why these issues haven’t been addressed.

As if extreme side effects weren’t enough, the pill itself comes with a plethora of warnings. Patients on birth control have likely seen the gigantic pamphlet that comes with the pill pack.

These risks tend to occur in many users, as some social media influencers speak a lot about the effects of birth control. Influencer Lucie Fink spoke about the effects of taking birth control for 11 years. Fink experienced side effects like aura migraines, which cause symptoms like flashes of lights, blind spots, tingling in the face and/or hands according to the National Library of Medicine.

“It hits home for me, it’s that you never think you are going to be a rare instance until you are,” Fink said.

Fink also discussed needing a cholecystectomy, due to a gallstone caused by the birth control pill she was taking. She decided to read the pamphlet in her prescribed pack and said, “Boom, there it was; ‘may cause gallbladder diseases.’”

It’s clear that birth control does much more harm than good and it’s not selective when it comes to side effects. It hurts everyone. We need new research and new developments to create a contraceptive that works efficiently without damaging those who take it.

The contraceptive industry needs to be changed. Pharmaceutical companies should also consider who the medication is for and focus on patient needs.

Nobody expects to become mentally and physically sick when taking a simple medication. Contraceptive health is incredibly important, even if it doesn’t receive as much attention as other medical sectors. Something needs to change, so that those who take the medication can feel safe and maintain good mental health while still taking care of our personal needs.

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