Guest Post by Holly Grigg-Spall
January 12, 2012
“Less stressed, thinner and more interested in sex.” – but not buying magazines.
In a recent issue of the UK’s Stylist magazine — a weekly women’s glossy that is available for free at tube stations and selected clothing stores — there was an article headlined ‘What does 10 Years On The Pill Do To You?‘ As a result of my on-going blog, Sweetening the Pill, which documents my experience of coming off the contraceptive pill, I was contacted by the writer to provide some quotes for this piece. Unfortunately, I was edited out. As a journalist myself, I understood this situation has little to do with the writer’s choice of content and more to do with the magazine editor’s final say on what was most fitting for the feature. Yet the title question is the very crux of my blog: having taken the Pill for 10 years, stopping as a result of discovering the answer to this very question.
According to the Stylist piece the answer is that the Pill changes your memory skills, lowers your libido, makes you attracted to the wrong kinds of men for you, changes weight distribution, prevents you building muscles, make you retain water, make you depressed and jealous…and how can you tell if this all is just you or the Pill? You can’t and you shouldn’t try to find out, is the message here. We are advised to not take a break from the Pill, not even for a week, and if you are concerned, just ask for a different brand from your doctor. There is no discussion of non-hormonal alternatives. There is also no discussion of the benefits of not taking the Pill, of allowing your body to ovulate once a month.
My answer to this question was: “The Pill has a whole body impact. Taking the Pill shuts down a woman’s hormone cycle — and the ovulation and menstruation that is an essential part of this cycle — and replaces it with a low stream of synthetic hormones. This has an affect on every organ in the body — the impact is wide-reaching and crudely administered. The peaks, troughs, and plateaus of a woman’s ‘natural’ cycle are wiped out. The monthly hormone cycle is integral to many of the body’s central functions, including the metabolic, immune, and endocrine systems. This changes everything — from your sense of smell to your libido to your ability to absorb vitamins from your food.