Or no baby, we guess.
Following the recent election of Donald Trump and his firm anti-choice stance, as well as his plan to repeal Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman’s legal right to an abortion, sexist violence is abound. Nothing matters more for this debate right now than tangible support for women’s health clinics and women’s own stories and voices, so we decided to speak with a few women to get their perspectives on various forms of birth control.
Get ready for some pill-ow talk under the cut!
illustrations by Darcy Allan (@darcydoedee)
A recent study done in Denmark with over a million women is causing major waves in the medical community and community-at-large because it shows a definitive link between hormonal contraceptives and depression. One of the most worrisome findings it’s presented to us is that the starkest effects of birth control are felt by girls aged 15 to 19.
The reaction from the general public has been mixed, and that’s because people’s interaction with their birth control is totally variable. Some have had great results, some have hated their contraceptive of choice, and others have been somewhere in the middle.
We spoke to a few women about their birth control methods, and they all seemed to have varying opinions on the matter.
Here’s the confusing, difficult truth: birth control affects different people completely differently. We can’t promise you’ll be happy if you go down the road of hormonal contraceptives, but we can’t tell you that you’ll hate it either. What we can tell you is that since girls’ and women’s emotions can be so easily dismissed by, well, everyone tbqh, we want you to know that no matter your experience, you are not alone, and you deserve to be taken seriously.
So, check out the differences in the experiences of the people we talked to. You might strike a chord with one of these stories.
Sophie, 21, started taking a daily pill earlier this year, which she misses about once a month on average. Even though she’s been on it for less than six months, she can say that it is worth it for her so she can prevent unplanned pregnancy. While she experiences side effects such as acne, sore breasts, and bad moods, she said, “it gives me peace of mind, and I feel like I’m in control of it.”
Molly, 19, started taking a daily pill when she was 15, and she doesn’t generally miss any doses. She takes the pill to prevent unwanted pregnancy, for clearer skin, and to ease symptoms of menstruation. Even though she experiences occasional headaches and migraines, she also finds that the pill has reduced her acne and given her regular periods. She began experiencing feelings of depression when she was around 15 as well, but isn’t sure if she can connect her depression to birth control: “I guess I’ve been on the pill for so long that I can’t really remember what I felt like before I began taking it,” she said.
Ruby, 23, has been using a Nuva Ring as her hormonal contraceptive for nearly ten years to prevent unplanned pregnancy. She experiences feelings of depression because of the ring, and has found that even though it gives her regular periods, it has caused a decrease in her sex drive, and an increase in hair loss, headaches and migraines, and hair growth on her face and body. But she says the benefits outweigh the side effects: Her PMS is incredibly intense, and the birth control helps alleviate it. “[PMS] can include but is not limited to: thinking my friends and family hate me, feeling like I should quit my job, the intense urge to bleach my hair and considering breaking up with my perfectly lovely partner,” she said.
Helena’s experience with birth control have been relatively easy. She started with the daily pill when she was 15 for clearer skin and to prevent unplanned pregnancy, and then switched to the Depo Provera shot, which she’s still on. She experienced irregular menstruation and weight gain, but less acne and no feelings of depression. Helena, now 19,says that even though she took birth control on and off, she is now content with the shot.
Amarindi, 26, was on the daily pill for six months to a year to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and generally, didn’t miss a dose. While she didn’t feel depressed while on the pill, she found that it caused her to gain weight, decreased her sex drive, and gave her extremely irregular periods. Amarindi wasn’t a fan of the side effects and says she wouldn’t go back on it.
Taby, 20, took the daily pill for about six months to prevent unwanted pregnancy and to ease the symptoms of menstruation. She encountered many side effects, including a loss of appetite, weight gain, an increase in her sex drive, sore breasts, headaches and migraines. She also experienced increased mood swings, saying she,”would constantly go from being angry to upset to fine. [It] felt like a roller coaster of emotions, and it was difficult to cope with everyday life.” She’s no longer taking hormonal contraceptives, saying that overall, the side effects weren’t worth it.
Katie, 20, has had an IUD for about six months. She got it so her menstrual cycle would become regular and so the symptoms of menstruation were eased. She hasn’t experienced depression or mood swings as a result of the IUD, and has found that her period has stopped altogether which according to her “is the best thing in the world.”
Samantha*, 20, took the daily pill for less than six months to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but experienced feelings of depression, weight gain, sore breasts, headaches, migraines, hair loss, emotional breakdowns, and anxiety attacks. “I was very sensitive and unhappy and I didn’t know why,” she said.
*Name changed upon request
Jasmine, 21, takes the daily pill to prevent unwanted pregnancy, for clearer skin, and to regulate her period. She misses a couple of doses a month, but has been on birth control for two years now, saying she hasn’t felt depressed while on it. Some side effects she’s experienced include less acne, regular menstruation, and a decrease in sex drive, but said she’s been taking it so long that she “no longer notices side effects.”
It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the results of this study—if you are considering hormonal medication or are already on it, you should #knowyourself.
If you want to start birth control, talk to your doctor, an expert on campus, or go to a women’s clinic for good info. If you’re already on birth control and find that you’re having a lot of days when you’re not feeling yourself, take your emotions seriously and drop by your doctor or campus counsellor. Maybe you need to switch to a different method.
Regardless, in the long term, your mental health is worth paying attention to.