It’s time we started talking about the contraceptive oral pill and its side effects on women that should not be happening. Side effects such as decreased sex drive, increased risk of depression and increased risk of breast cancer.

The above are only a few of the many reasons women, myself included,  choose to come off the pill and are now speaking out.

This article does not aim to give every tiny detail of my own experience, but I do want to share a brief insight into my journey with the pill. After being on it for six years I started to become affected by anxiousness and it was sometimes as though a cloud had come over my head. It took me a long while to figure out it was the pill causing this and even after coming off it, it was a long time before I felt more myself. Hopefully reading about this can help people feel more comfortable about sharing their own experiences; without fear of being labelled dramatic, a liar or having their symptoms put down to ‘a bad time in life’. You know your body and mind, you know what is normal for you — if you don’t feel normal, speak out because we need to start talking.

Every woman’s experience of the contraceptive pill is different and personal so I would never criticise other women for taking it, if it works for them. Obviously the pill does work for some women and not all women will have this same experience. The pill is helpful to some women because it regulates periods and makes them less painful — both things that can be crippling to daily life. It has also been known to clear acne which can cause a loss of self-confidence. And of course we can’t forget the main reason it was invented — it is over 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy, which means only 1 in 100 women are caught while on the pill. These positives should not go unnoticed!

For other women though, the positives are outweighed by the negatives and these should also not go unnoticed. The most commonly known side effects to taking the pill are mood swings, which can include anxiety and depression. It seems there has been an ongoing fight for women suffering from these side effects to be heard, as doctors have continuously denied the link between the pill and depression, but it is there. The percentages found from a new study conducted by the University of Copenhagen are scary, considering the vast amount of women who take the contraceptive pill. The study has shown that women taking the combined pill have a 23 per cent higher chance of being diagnosed with depression. Whilst women taking the ‘mini’ progesterone-only pill, are 34 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with depression. When taking age into account, the study showed that teens were at a higher risk from this side effect. Looking at all the percentages, it’s hard to believe this is still being waved off and considered ‘normal’.

Luckily, more and more alternatives are becoming available so if you are someone who suffers from any of the negative side effects, it’s good news! Over the recent years, there have been developments in contraceptives and we now have a couple of different options including the high-tech Lady Comp and the Intrauterine Device (IUD) — a non-hormonal implant which releases copper rather than hormones into the body to prevent pregnancy. The Lady Comp is a fairly new contraceptive that is also hormone free and completely natural. It analyses your cycle in order to provide accurate information of your most and least fertile days. Now there has been criticisms of this but the effectiveness has been proven at 99.36 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy.

If none of these are suitable for you, that’s okay too because a new study has shown that the hormones we produce during our cycle are actually good for us and we should embrace them. It has been a long time coming for this opinion to materialise. Historically, periods have been blamed for causing ‘hysteria’ and women’s ‘mood swings’ have all been been put down to hormones. Now though, it has been suggested that the hormones we experience are actually doing us good! The study has shown that at different stages in our cycle, different skills have a peak time; for instance, spatial awareness and verbal skills. This may be good to keep in mind when we are having a bad time of the month, our body is simply doing a lot of weird and wonderful things that we should embrace and be in tune with!

We should remember that there are other alternatives to the pill, if it doesn’t work for you. If it does, then amazing! If nothing works for you then remember the hormones you are experiencing are having positive effects too! Everyone is different though and you should listen to your body and do what’s right for YOU.

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