Alternatives to the pill..?
Well for starters it makes you go fuckin mental! Its like an attack of the body snatchers! It effects your skin, hair, nails, weight, bones, hormones, moods, libido! I mean I think that covers everything???? Read up below on the Evening Standards write up on the latest research.. leave me your thoughts in the comments below.
Studies have shown that more millennials are seeking alternatives to the sexual miracle of the Sixties
Original artical found here
In 1961, the contraceptive pill was launched in the UK, changing sexual health forever. Nearly 60 years later and there’s an array of options available to women who want to have control over their lives, futures and relationships.
Ten years ago, nearly half of women using Sexual Health and Reproductive Services were swallowing a tablet each day, with the second most popular protection option being male condoms. Today, both numbers have decreased and various studies have shown that millennial women are seeking alternatives to the sexual miracle of the Sixties.
In 2018, use of the implant has now overtaken the male condom and is fast catching up to the pill, while the number of women choosing to use Long-acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs) has nearly doubled since 2008. But why are women today opting for implants, injections and coils over their previously popular counterparts?
Forty-four per cent of women still take the pill each day in England but there have been growing concerns over its links to depression and, more generally, the side effects of hormonal contraception.
Frankie Wells is one half of Project Pleasure, a podcast which discusses women’s sexual health and relationships. She started taking the pill at 17. “As a teenager first taking the pill, I had no understanding why I had this sudden wave of anxiety and paranoia, which led me to feel extremely isolated right through to my early 20s,” she explains.
For years, the 26-year-old battled negative feelings while fearing judgement. It was only when Wells stopped taking the pill that she stopped experiencing such anxiety: “Coming off the pill I had this new found confidence in who I was and how I felt.”
Sexual health charity, the Family Planning Associationinsists that despite zero evidence of a causal link between the pill and depression, “women’s experiences must still be acknowledged and taken seriously”. Side effects of the pill have been known to cause mood swings, headaches and issues with blood pressure, while a 2016 study did find that users were more likely to take antidepressants.
Starting on the pill at 16, these side effects were just some of the reasons contraception blogger Rio Muzzall decided to come off hormonal birth control entirely. At the time, she was given very little information about the pill: “All I was told was that if I had any negative side effects, they would subside after a few months.”
Seven years later and Rio’s health was suffering; experiencing digestive issues, anxiety, high blood pressure and frequent bleeding, the 26-year-old was advised to start taking more medication to tackle her problems. “As a 23-year-old, having to take blood pressure medication did not sit well with me,” she explains.
“I felt I had no choice but to take my health into my own hands. I wasn’t prepared to risk worsening my health further by trying other hormonal methods.”
Distrust of hormones has led to many women seeking alternatives: condoms, caps and diaphragms provide hormone-free barrier protection during sex. For longer term protection, the copper coil is popular with millennials.
More than 99 per cent effective, the copper coil, or IUD, provides protection against pregnancy for up to 10 years. Dr Anita Mitra blogs about sexual health, she’s seen the increased demand for hormone-free contraception first-hand: “I am seeing so many people wanting the copper coil, it’s like the new black of contraception – everyone wants it!”
“Honestly, I think it’s because of the whole chat on social media about ‘all-natural, no hormones’. The problem is, I’ve removed a lot of copper coils because people are like, ‘oh my God, I’m having this torrential period every month’ because it does make your periods heavier,” she explains.
Like most birth control, the copper coil comes with its own side effects and has been shown to make periods heavier and longer. Dr Mitra says the most common reason people choose to have the IUD removed before its expiry date is because of bleeding. She insists that there are many myths surrounding hormone-based contraception and it shouldn’t be dismissed so quickly.
“The hormones in contraception are basically mimicking what your body would do on a normal basis,” she explains. “There’s not really any strong evidence to show that that causes any harm; it doesn’t damage your fertility.”
A wave of wellness trends have vilified hormonal birth control, leading to natural family planning methods gaining status. While these methods have no side effects and can be used by women wanting to avoid pregnancy or start a family, accuracy is crucial but not always guaranteed when monitoring basal temperatures and signs of fertility.
Earlier this year, infamous app Natural Cycles was under investigation in Sweden after hospital records revealed 37 patients using it as birth control had fallen pregnant between September and December 2017. While this number fell in line with its typical use effectiveness rate of 93 per cent, the company was asked to clarify the risk of unwanted pregnancy within its app and instructions – this was achieved before the investigation was fully concluded. The Advertising Standards Agency also banned one of its adverts from Facebook, deeming claims that it’s a “highly accurate” contraceptive to be misleading.
However this isn’t to say that choosing hormone-free contraception hasn’t helped many people or isn’t effective. For Rio, it “felt like a black cloud had been lifted” when she stopped taking the pill and she continues to use the Fertility Awareness Method, describing it as “empowering experience” bringing her and her fiancé closer.
A lack of sexual health information when young has left many women only finding alternative birth control methods later in life, often learning from peer experiences and advice.
This insufficiency appears to be a common issue for young women – something that the Family Planning Association recognises. “A 10 minute appointment with a GP is not enough time to talk through your options in any great deal,” explains Deputy Chief Executive, Bekki Burbidge. While “relationships and sex education in schools is variable and might not cover contraceptive choices in enough detail”.
Dr Mitra agrees: “There isn’t a lot of awareness that there is something else out there because education about contraception just isn’t that great.”
Whether it’s constantly forgetting to take it at the same time every day, feeling you were rushed into it at a young age because you weren’t made aware of any other options or just wanting something more long-term – there’s a multitude of reasons why women are seeking alternatives to the pill.
Fellow Project Pleasure podcaster Anouszka Tate wishes she had known more about her options when she started taking the pill at 15: “I’m frustrated for my younger self, that I wasn’t aware of the side effects because at least I would have been able to analyse the potential reasons behind the changes I was seeing in my body and life.”
That’s why education is critical when it comes to birth control – from knowing what’s available and best-suited to you, to not shaming others for their birth control choices. Dr Mitra believes that “contraception is a personalised thing,” that has to be “a one-on-one conversation because you are an individual”.
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Much love B x