Let's start at the beginning, why am I writing a blog about the birth control pill? More importantly why am I writing a blog that will be criticising the birth control pill? I'm not a Catholic, a silver-ring-thing enthusiast, a Christian fundamentalist or a prude. I'm not writing this to scaremonger you into abstinence. In fact, let's get the plus-points for the pill out there right now. The pill reduces the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers. It helps with heavy and horrible periods. It prevents unwanted pregnancies. All good things. It's simple, effective and easy. Actually it's a little too easy, and not that simple, and as far as effective goes...Here's where the criticism bit comes in. As I said, let us start at the beginning.
Laura and I were sitting in the Asda car park in her silver beemer. We were there to buy leggings. Although we knew it was likely we'd come out laden, that was our story. Laura had been talking about how she'd been feeling down lately, like nothing excited her anymore. She felt directionless, bored, and very, well, blah. She'd got more excited about leggings than anything else that month - including her long term boyfriend. Her head felt like it was full of cotton wool, she couldn't think straight. She had no sex drive to speak of, but not just that, she had no drive at all. No desire to do anything, not really, not like she used to.
I said I had been feeling very similar. All my confidence and interest in life had evaporated somewhere along the way. I felt flat. Just plain empty of the varied feelings and interesting thoughts I could remember being part of my every-day a year ago.
I guess it was the sex drive bit that got us thinking. We'd read the newspaper articles linking the birth control pill to low libido. That week I had listened to an episode of the US radio show This American Life containing two stories - one about a woman who had wanted to become a man and took testosterone shots, and another about a man who suffered from an illness that rid his body of all testosterone. The latter had explained that without testosterone he wasn't only uninterested in sex, he was uninterested in life. He had no preferences, no desires, no motivation.
Laura and I were both taking Yasmin. A relatively new birth control pill at that time that had been discussed in all the magazines we read. The magazines had never before recommended one pill or another, but Yasmin was supposed to give you great skin and help you lost weight. Two very important facts to the world of women's magazines, and the women who read them. Many of our friends had deliberately asked their doctors to prescribe them Yasmin. The doctors all did so, despite it being the most expensive pill on the market. Out in the US, the pharmaceutical company Bayer Schering had launched an aggressive marketing campaign making the weight loss, acne clearing claims alongside assertions that Yasmin would stop PMS. All this hype had trickled down to the UK.
Well, our skin sure did look great, and we'd definitely lost a few pounds - but in that Asda car park Laura and I realised we no longer felt right. We figured it could be down to Yasmin.