It was a right of passage during the progression into young womanhood. With every new sex life comes with the urgency to protect oneself from pregnancy. A whole array of options for women to have the delight to choose from.
The pill was first introduced in 1961. During this period of time, women did not have the options that we had today. If you became pregnant, that was it, you either kept the baby or you had to give it up for adoption. The control over ones bodies was limited with a lack of preventative measure.
If you think about it, in 1961, it would have been a strong move in aid of women’s rights. So you would think. However, it was only prescribed to married women through the NHS, so not so much a progressive move for unmarried women.
Of course, just like today, they had methods such as withdrawal and condoms – the condoms not having a vast sensual ranges to pick from like they do today, and withdrawal has never been the most reliable method.
In 1967, the pill was now available for all women, and this is when attitudes began to change. All women (from the age of 19) were able to prevent pregnancy and control their entire lives, with the stigma now fading and sex between an unmarried couple now accepted. The option as well that women could move away from the idea that they could be trapped into a marriage due to having a child, as they were able to take the pill.
Side affects were not really reported. As time began to move on, certain health risks such as blood clots and breast cancer began to be presented, but the impact on taking contraception on wellbeing seemed unimportant. In the scheme of things, I suppose it was unimportant. The pill became a catalyst and symbolic of free love and women breaking free.
Now let’s look at it from a 2019 perspective. No longer is it just the pill available, there is a whole array of other options that we can decide from. Still with the same premise, a safe way to prevent pregnancy, and also still allowing us women to be free to control our bodies and enjoy having sex. The progression of medicine that has allowed this is wonderful.
But hear me out a second. In 1967, taking the pill was a choice women made to be free. Nowadays, I feel it may be just a standard expectation that women take it. It is expected when entering a sexual relationship and an oddity if you aren’t. And, in 2019, there are many reasons why. According to http://www.bmj.com, 26% of young women between 16-24 have issues with their mental health. My last blog post for World Mental Health Day highlights how as a society, statistics are on the high for depression and anxiety.
The link between contraceptives and mental health is a fact. If you read the list of side affects that are issued with any pill, implant or injection, it shows a whole list of problems that taking the pill can cause. Depression/low mood is always listed. 81% of women were using contraceptives in the year 2015, so that is 81% of women who are likely to experience these side affects.
It is worth thinking about. Taking the pill (or other form of) is normal, but the necessity to live through a whole heap of issues that go alongside has to be relevant.
Even more relevantly, when the male pill was in production, it was shut down due to the ‘low mood’ side affect described during test studies. As well as this, it was reported that a ‘lower sex drive’ was noticed. Both of these are side affects that women experience. So as a society, why is it so normal and acceptable for women to deal with these issues and it be okay, but not for men? Why does it not matter if a woman experiences low mood, or not have a sex drive? In 1967, the pill liberated women to be free to have sex in the first place, but the question I have to raise is whether it is now, in the last forty years or so, become less liberating and more of a burden solely for women, to live with side affects that are not desirable for men to have.
The pill is revolutionary. I will never be against the pill. I still believe in its original cause of creation, and that was to allow women to control their bodies and what happens to it. I just feel that maybe women aren’t in control anymore. It is society that is in control. Women must face the burden.