Saturday, January 8, 2011
Starting on The Pill Later in Life
I am one of the only American women I know who has never taken any form of hormonal birth control. Until now, it had never felt right for me and my body, and I have a hard time articulating why. I know full well that it currently is and historically has been such a good fit for like pretty much everyone and their mom, forever. When I was a teen, my own mom (a relatively asexual being whose DH had a vasectomy right after I, their only child, was born) kind of sort of discouraged it with a couple of hints and some shoddy reasoning, while stopping short of having an actual birth control conversation with me - she's skilled at odd verbal acrobatics like that. In hindsight, I think she just didn't want me to ever perceive that taking the Pill would give me carte blanche to bed whomever free of consequences, because obviously it offers no protection against STDs. I think she thought somehow I wouldn't understand that basic scientific truth (duh, right!). Luckily I was resourceful and got my hands on the right books, and finally found The Bible on such matters: "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler. It seriously should replace the textbook for young women in junior high & high school sex ed classes. Can't wait to introduce it to my DD someday. I seriously credit this book with singlehandedly having helped me avoid unwanted pregnancy, because from it I learned all of my fertile signs by heart years before I officially needed to know them to start trying to conceive, and was basically using Fertility Awareness for years as a back-up to the various barrier methods I was using.
Another reason I missed out on the ritual of taking the pill during my "peak" fertility window of ages 18-35: I was a dork who starting having sex relatively late in college, at least when compared to my peers, so my need for reliable birth control was low. So a supercheap diaphragm, some spermicide, and a box of condoms pretty much got me through the 90s. I was working too hard and not having nearly enough sex. Meanwhile, nearly all of my closest friends who had started taking The Pill when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 pretty much stayed on it until well after age 30 when they started trying to get pregnant. Most had great, acne-free skin, and no trouble eventually conceiving. The only real negatives I ever heard about The Pill were breakthrough bleeding on occasion, and also the reports from three of my friends who suffer from migraines who were finally years later told by doctors "you should have never been given this kind of pill!" and who were then thankfully cured of their headaches once they switched to a different formulation.
Fast forward to the present day: this is my 35th year on the planet. I'm done having kids. I don't want to get my period anymore, and I would like the acne on my back to clear up. So yesterday I filled my first prescription for The Pill. It seems I am about to join the proverbial club. That said, the original plan was for DH to get a vasectomy - BUT as there unfortunately is no longer the local urologist who could do the 'no needle, no scalpel' technique here in Podunkville (good doctors don't stay here long) DH will have to wait until we have a couple of days free to get it done in a bigger city - so that means realistically it could be a few more years. I suppose I could have forced the issue and made him go see a local non-specialist who might eff up his junk, but honestly that's not the choice I would make for myself if I were in his shoes, obviously!
I guess my only question is, assuming The Pill works well for me and DH never gets a vasectomy, at what age do I eventually stop taking it? 45?? 50?? Or even later?? Hmm... My doctor didn't satisfactorily answer that one.
Ok, it's pithy link time. I'm sure most of you have already read or heard about Vanessa Grigoriadis' recent piece on "Waking Up From The Pill" - but if you've been living under a Cheerios-scented rock like me, maybe not. You can find it here. Recommended reading, though I have some issues with some of the assumptions she makes.
Your thoughts? What pill are you poppin'?