Does it feel like you have pressure from every side to be on hormonal contraceptives? It’s often the fact that doctors, partners, and maybe even your parents want you on it and if you say anything otherwise you would think that you were swearing on your granny’s grave.
Maybe you just don’t want to try them, or maybe you have tried them and decided to get off because they weren’t working for you. Yeah, your doctor wants you to try different pill formulations and different methods of administration (such as the patch, ring, shot, implant, IUD, etc.).
You probably feel pressured into needing to be on hormonal contraception (or an IUD), to be a responsible “contraceptor” (I like to make words up, so?).
Why in the world is this the case?
You are taught to believe a few things about contraception, such as:
- The most important about the method you choose is that it’s effective.
- The benefits (not being pregnant) you are getting outweigh the risks and discomforts you have.
- It’s “temporary” (seriously, I have heard of clients doctors say that since it’s only a couple more years until they want to get pregnant it’s ok. First of all, no it isn’t, second of all, what if their patient never wanted kids?).
- If you have any menstrual cycle problems, like heavy bleeding, cramps, or PCOS you need to be on the pill, there is no other way to fix it.
My biggest beef with the list is probably number 2.
If you can get the benefits from some other source, how does it outweigh the risks involved? The only hormonal methods that are more effective than the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness (when both are used properly), for instance, are the long acting reversible contraception such as the hormonal IUD and implant.
Which also serves to negate number one. Hormonal contraception is not the only effective method of birth control!
Now, I know that most people are very focused on how safe hormonal contraception is, but more women than not have side-effects that affect their life, there are deaths (however rare), and for some there will even be more serious complications somewhere in between death and slight side effects.
While some people may be comfortable with the risks and unpleasantness, others are not.
Just because you don’t want to potentially put your body in jeopardy does that mean that you are being irresponsible? Absolutely NOT.
It takes more than doing what a lot of people want you to do to be responsible with your birth control. Many women can take the pill irresponsibly, get their shots irresponsibly, or even change patches and rings irresponsibly.
The type of birth control that you are using is not indicative of how responsible you are being with it.
I was interviewed last week and asked: Do you think this is a viable family planning method for most women? I said YES. And I explained that even though it does require user diligence, I believe that it’s actually one of the easiest methods to practice perfectly.
You can compare the method most easily with the pill, because both require daily action. While with the pill to be a perfect user you have to take it at the same time every day, charting your cycles you can do at different times. If you forgot to write something down and notice the next day you can probably still remember what you needed to write down and do so.
Not only that, but if you do truly forget or are totally unsure, it’s right in your face. You aren’t thinking that maybe you did everything, or you’re probably ok anyway. You are thinking: Damn, I might be in my fertile time, better not take any chances.
It sounds weird, but it’s true. Many people using fertility awareness, once they get the hang of it, find it simple and know exactly when they should not be taking any chances. Yes, it takes a couple of cycles to get to that place, but overall you get it down very quickly and then can enjoy having the skill for the rest of your reproductive years.
(Psst, I’ll be honest, I haven’t taken my temperature in about 2 weeks and haven’t charted for over one and I am at absolutely zero increased risk of pregnancy because of the time in my cycle. While I don’t normally do this because I think it’s easier to keep a daily habit, it’s absolutely possible to only chart part of your cycle after the learning period and be fine.)
But, back to this responsibility stuff. What about if you have some kind of hormonal imbalance and the doctor recommended taking some kind of hormonal contraception? While it is 100% your choice what you want to do with your body, I will tell you one thing: That hormonal contraception is NOT curing your hormonal imbalance.
It is causing your body to run off of the artificial hormones, which can be great for some women and a welcome relief, but for most women these imbalances can be cured in other ways that actually get to the root of the problem. So the question is whether you would like symptoms relief or to try to get to the root of your problem.
If you do want to get to the root, I will say this: Most people can make diet and lifestyle changes that will fix or greatly reduce their problems. Will it work for you? I can’t say for sure. I recommend talking to your doctor and ideally a naturopathic doctor that specializes in hormonal/menstrual health to see what options you have.
So what are your feelings and associations around hormonal birth control? Do you feel pressured into taking it or “bad” because you don’t? Let me know in the comments.