I’ve spent the past 2-3 years learning every day about women’s health, reproductive health, fertility, and the industry of hormonal birth control. It’s truly my passion, and I want to tell every woman I know that her body is perfect as it is, and that she doesn’t need to take oppressive and suppressive medications to stop it from being what it naturally is. I want every woman to know about the amazing knowledge Fertility Awareness provides, and the whole world of women’s health and self-care that is opened up when one starts to truly learn about the female body. Education systems, doctors, women’s magazines (even feminist ones, sadly), and pharmaceutical companies have been telling women lies. It’s time to throw those lies in a trash bin and burn them!! 🙂
Because of this passion, I seek to cultivate as much awareness of women’s health as I can. The amount of false (and deadly in some cases) information about hormonal birth control (especially ones like Yaz and Yasmin which contain synthetic progesterone) is ASTOUNDING and OUTRAGEOUS.
I try to share this with every woman I know, and to raise awareness about the healthy alternatives to these forms of birth control. There are scientifically-researched, non-hormonal methods of birth control that are just as (and sometimes even MORE) effective as hormonal birth controls (99.6%!!!).
Technically, hormonal birth controls are “temporary sterilization”. Imagine, if we were told to take a drug that would shut down our heart or our lungs, we would be mortified (literally). And yet, somehow, we have been culturally convinced of the lie that we can shut down our fertility cycles (our fifth vital sign) without any adverse effects. That is entirely untrue!
These drugs are marketed (despite studies and vast anecdotal evidence) to women and girls en mass, and are portrayed as “lifestyle drugs”…oh yes, you’ll have clear skin, larger breasts, and you’ll even lose weight! Interesting, as those are all wrapped up in our view of what a “desirable” woman is. And also interesting, because acne and weight gain and “irregular” periods and PMS can be healed in so many other ways that don’t involve sterilization and excess/synthetic hormones.
But what about our HEALTH? Studies on the adverse (and sometimes fatal) effects of drugs like Yaz and Yasmin have compared the risks NOT with other forms of hormonal birth control — or, even better, to non-hormonal birth control — but instead to the risks associated with pregnancy. Pregnancy is a pathological condition according to this mindset, and the only options for a young woman are either pregnancy (oh no!) or hormonal birth control. (See more about this in Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked On Hormonal Birth Control.)
But how about just living in a woman’s body, leaving it alone to be healthy and nurtured?! Why do we think that our bodies need suppressing? Why do we think that we can shut down a whole body function, and expect to keep living normally?! This mindset is pervasive and further indoctrinated by a quite male-dominated medical industry (and the mostly male representatives of large pharmaceutical companies).
See, our bodies are complex but NOT confusing. They are clean, NOT something to be sterilized! They already have their own form of self-regulation built in, and with knowledge of that one can prevent or plan a pregnancy.
It’s also interesting to note just how afraid we seem to be of pregnancy. We think becoming pregnant at the “wrong” time is shameful or inconvenient. Everything must be planned. Yet pregnancy is only a severe burden in a society that doesn’t truly support its women, but rather forces them to become masculinized by shutting down the fertility cycles.
In a society where women are supported, and have the social infrastructure to both bear children (if they want to) and to be active in other areas of life, pregnancy doesn’t seem so apocalyptic. But as long as we are taught to fear pregnancy, to fear our body’s abilities, and told that the only way to prevent our unpredictable bodies from doing this devastating thing is to take hormonal birth control…well then, of course we’ll continue to be willing to pay the price, and accept poisons and body illiteracy.
BUT THIS CAN CHANGE!! I imagine a world where all women, from before their first menstruation, are taught the truth about their bodies, and are taught that women are only actually fertile 24 hours each cycle (and that with the combined fertility of male and female, they have a fertile window of approximately 7-10 days). I hope for a day when literally everyone knows that not every woman has a 28-day cycle with ovulation on day 14, and that they can observe their scientifically proven signs of fertility to know what’s going on with their bodies at any given time.
With this information, women could prevent and plan pregnancy regardless of their environments or economic statuses. They could know when their bodies were sick or nutritionally lacking. They could know, by observing variations in their cycles, that stress was affecting them and that they needed a little extra self-care. With fewer surprise pregnancies, maybe even abortion rates would plummet to nearer nothing. Women would be able to communicate with their health providers, and they would be the ones with the information, knowing what questions to ask and what treatments to consider.
Women would have their health in their own hands, and there would be a common and open knowledge about the beauty and intricacy of the female body.
Natural birth control (aka Fertility Awareness) isn’t just a thing for hippies –– it’s used by modern, secular and religious, science-loving women! It isn’t just for women trying to conceive, either. It’s for all women, all girls, and all people. It’s basic knowledge about how the bodies of over half of the world’s population function.
If you’d like to educate yourself more about this (and I hope you do!), here’s a little resource list to get you started. Also, feel free to contact me with any questions about this. Like I said, it’s a passion, and I love sharing it with other women!
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility
- Justisse Method: Fertility Awareness and Body Literacy
- Sweetening the Pill
- The Pen and Paper Fertility blog
- Chloe Skerlak (HRHP) 28 Days, 28 Myths YouTube series about fertility
- Fertility Awareness Method, Easily Explained video
- The Femmehead YouTube channel