The Pill has its upsides and downsides.
Most of us women have been on the Pill at one time or another – 82%, to be precise. But many women have not been satisfied with it. In fact, between 2006 and 2008, one-third of women who had ever used the Pill discontinued it because they were dissatisfied with it.
More and more women are telling me that they would really like to get off the Pill.
Some of them are switching to the IUD, (such as the Mirena), and finding that it trades one set of problems for the other. The most common reason for ceasing the Mirena in a 2013 study was cramping.
But many women persist with the Pill despite problems.
In my experience this is largely for one of two reasons:
- The perceived reliability and convenience of the Pill
- The “welcome” side effects of the Pill
The reliability (or not) of the Pill
We often think of the Pill as a fairly watertight method of contraception. It is commonly quoted at an effectiveness of around 99%. However, with typical use, the failure rate of the Pill over one year was 9%. This means that for every 100 women that use the Pill for one year, 9 of fall pregnant unintentionally. This compares with 7% of Depo Provera (injectable) users, less than 1% of IUD users, and 17% of condom users.
The “welcome” side effects of the Pill
Before I talk about unwelcome side effects of the Pill, it’s important to point out that some women go on the Pill – and stay on it – because of perceived positive side effects. The two most common are
- Help with acne
- Help with painful periods
So women are in a constant state of “push-pull” when it comes to the Pill and other chemical contraceptives.
They are not really comfortable with what it’s doing to their bodies – or at least feel uneasy about effects in the long-term – but there seem to be too many good reasons to stay on it. Getting off the Pill seems too hard.
It’s also easier to keep doing what you’re doing than make a change – so some women stay on it, despite their misgivings, because of it’s the easier choice.
But what if you would really like some help to come off it?
Maybe you’re concerned about your future fertility, or your risks of hormone dependent cancers. Maybe you don’t like how it makes you feel, or don’t like the side effects you’ve had of decreased libido and weight gain. Or maybe it just doesn’t feel right to you. For any of these reasons, this blog post series of A Guide to Getting Off the Pill is for you.
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