Taking the Pill: Does it Add to Infertility?

Babble Blogs – for a new generation of parents

Posted by Robin Aronson on December 7th, 2010

A few years ago, a friend went off the pill.  She’d been on it long enough, she said, and though she was 38 at the time, she and her husband weren’t ready to “try.”  So, she insisted he use condoms.  Every time.  I said to her, “Do you know there are only, like, 3 days a month during which you can get pregnant? Five tops?”  And she looked at me like I’d just told her I could see Russia from my backyard.

As a young woman, it’s easy to think you understand your menstrual cycle.  You get your period, hopefully with some regularity, and when you have sex, because you get your period, you can get pregnant.  You go on the pill, you still get your period, but you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant.  So the question is, did the pill make us forget that we get our periods to get pregnant and enable women to wait too long to get pregnant?

Writing in New York magazine, Vanessa Grigoriadis explores this question.  On the occasion of the pill’s 50th birthday, she argues that while the pill introduced a level of choice and control to women, it also (might have) made them forget that their biological clocks were ticking.

This might have been a compelling argument on the 30th birthday of the pill, but I can’t help but wonder how any woman whose read any newspaper or magazine — anyone at all –  in the last twenty years could have missed the news that you get pregnant faster when you’re under thirty.

What is a question that’s worth asking is whether or not the fact of the pill kept women from learning, or being taught, how their menstrual cycles work.  My friend who was 38 and went off the pill has several advanced degrees, but clearly she had no idea how her body tells her she’s ovulating.

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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.