In the latest bit of sensationalism from Vice, which was co-founded by notorious sexist pig Gavin McInnes, we learn that hormonal birth control pills are terrifying and horrible, causing side effects like depression, spotting, long-term periods, acne, mood swings, weight gain, headaches, changes in vision…
Wait, really? These are all known, warned, and reported side effects of birth control pills, many of which are extremely rare.
Birth control pills are like any other medication: They aren’t for everyone, and different pills affect different people differently. I first went on the Pill when I was about 18 because I suffered from periods that caused vomiting and gave me cramps so painful I couldn’t walk. (I should note that I have a notoriously high pain tolerance in general, so that’s really saying something.) My periods were so heavy that I was sometimes anemic. I am one of the many women who use hormonal birth control not to, well, control birth, but for medical reasons. Other women who suffer from PCOS or hormonal imbalances, or even just painful periods or terrible PMS, benefit from the drug.
When I was on Yaz, I was depressed and my boobs grew. I switched to OrthoTriCyclen-Lo, which gave me horrific acne in places I didn’t even know I could get acne. Loestrin Fe was great for me, but caused constant spotting for a pal on the same dosage. I had to switch because at the time there wasn’t a generic version, and Obamacare hadn’t kicked in yet for my insurance to cover the prescription. I went on Necon, the generic version of Nortrel, which worked beautifully for years other than some initial discomfort with contact lenses. Now that Loestrin Fe is covered by my insurance and has a generic version, I’m switching back to it.
The moral of the story is, not every single medication on the market is appropriate for every single patient. Like anything else, including the antidepressants and anxiety medications many of the handpicked anecdotes cite in the Vice piece, the dosage and brand that work for you may be terrible for your sister.
To drive home just how crappy this article is, the Vice piece doesn’t even cover the biggest risks associated with hormonal birth control pills, which include strokes, blood clots, and high blood pressure, especially for users over 35 and/or smokers. Those are serious, life-threatening risks that are mentioned in commercials and pamphlets, but aren’t even glossed over here.
Read your pamphlets. Talk to your doctors. Do your due diligence for your own health, as well as for the rest of us who don’t need fear-mongering garbage like this to hinder our chances at keeping our medications insured and affordable, because I can guarantee you, based on his misunderstanding of hormonal birth control in his rants against Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh is somewhere eating this up.