‘Why I’ll never take the Pill again’

When Holly Grigg-Spall realised her contraceptive was causing low moods and anxiety, she decided to investigate – and found she’s not the only sufferer

The Independent

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Since it was released 50 years ago, the Pill has become a by-word for liberation. I was on the Pill for a decade – from 16 to 26. I would not describe my experience as liberating. In a blog, Sweetening The Pill, I have detailed how this tiny tablet made me feel – trapped, silenced, suppressed, stagnant. The Pill made me feel as though I were held hostage, and later, as though I were an addict. I know I am not the only woman who had, or is still having, problems with the Pill, because I hear from women with stories similar to mine every day. I am left out of the Pill’s birthday celebrations; I can’t even thank it for turning me into a women’s health writer and activist. It wasn’t until I stopped taking this drug that I developed the needed energy, motivation and clarity of thought to write about why I had to stop.

Discussing the arrival of the birth control pill, science-trained financial analyst James Balog, working for Merck Pharmaceuticals in 1960, remarked: “The issue then was whether any woman would take a pill every day to prevent the chance she might get pregnant. They believed nobody’s going to do that, not when they’re not sick, and they’re not sick!”

The articles printed in celebration of the anniversary of this event paint the Pill as a cure-all for every female problem, biological or social. An editorial in The Huffington Post calls it “small, safe and effective”, arguing that there has only been one issue with this miracle drug – it liberated women, an issue only to those who don’t want women liberated.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.