What Birth Control Does to the Woman’s Body
Approximately 64 percent of women that are within the reproductive age range (15-49) are using contraception in the United States, while 35% are not, according to a National Health Statistics Report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), with the number growing, the discussion of the impacts birth control has on the female body is constantly evolving.
Thirty-seven percent of women using contraception are between the ages of 15-19 while women between the ages of 40-49 makeup 73 percent according to the CDC.
“Understanding variation in contraceptive use across social and demographic characteristics offers potential insight into larger fertility patterns, including birth rates and incidence of unintended pregnancies,” according to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics.
"I won't say that birth control as an entity is bad but I will say that women should be mindful as to what is being put into their bodies"
Some women feel that they were not prepared for what gynecologists and other reproductive health professionals described to them to be the side effects of birth control, both physically and mentally.
Alexis Hill, 21, has been on three forms of contraception, the pill, the arm insertion, and the IUD, and believes each impacted her body and mind differently.
“I don’t believe that it is 100% safe,” Hill said. “A lot of birth control is new and comes with many side effects. I will say that researching and understanding what is good for your body is the important thing; I won’t say that birth control as an entity is bad, but I will say that women should be mindful as to what is being put into their bodies.”
Although many benefits are linked to contraception methods beyond preventing pregnancy, such as helping to control periods and regulating hormones, some women find the tradeoff between birth control and their mental health to not be as gratifying as they were expecting.
One of the main concerns women have when preparing to take birth control is the physical changes that may take place, weight gain, acne, etc. but often times the changes that take place mentally are overlooked.
“Birth control can mentally change you. It can cause depression and or change your physical appearance, which may alter how you think about yourself. So, once again this is hard to broaden to an everyone-type-question,” Hill said. “Everyone needs birth control for different reasons and to make the choice means to understand what you are putting in your body. I think we should just educate women more on their choices and talk more about these things instead of just giving them a pamphlet.”
Even with the anticipated relief birth control is expected to provide, there are still implications that leave women feeling more fatigued due to the contraception. Hill said that while she was on Nexplanon, or the arm insertion, it created long-term bleeding and in order to control it she was taking low estrogen birth control pills simultaneously.
Hill said that if it was not for outlying medical problems that birth control helped aid, she would have decided to not take birth control. “However, if I did not have any need for birth control, no I wouldn’t take it. Birth control sucks. Plain and simple,” Hill said. “They don’t have it figured out it seems besides the fact it helps me a little it hurts me a lot in the long run.”
Kate Dosser, 29, said she experienced migraines, acne and weight gain when she was taking a contraception pill for five years. Due to the migraines, Dosser was at a higher risk for blood clots and heart attacks.
However, after the five years she had been taking the pill, she was not aware of her high-risk until one of six neurologists and gynecologists she had seen informed her.
“I believe it’s mentally safe but I know the forms [birth control] that are hormonal may cause mental issues,” Dosser said.
Although female sterilization, condoms, and the pill remain the most prominent methods of birth control, trends in studies have shown that more women are starting to lean towards LARCs (Long Acting Reversible Contraception) such as the IUD because of the longer lasting control.
Other women feel birth control has created an easier and less-stressful way of managing their hormones.
Bianca Basnight, 22, said that she was happy to be taking a birth control pill because of the benefits.
“I did feel like dealing with the side effects was worth it because I was on it for the benefit of regulating my cycle which was making me feel better,” Basnight said. “Although I was unaware of how the hormones would affect other parts of my body, I still needed it to feel normal and healthy.”
For more information visit www. plannedparenthood.org/learn.