The combined pill is The Original; it was the first ever hormonal contraceptive and therefore we have more data on this method than any other type. This is important; you might assume all drugs that are given to the general public are well tested, and that their long term safety has been evaluated. But this is not the case.
how does the combined pill compare?
They contain synthetic estrogen and progestogen just like the combined pill, but they have additional health concerns. The trouble with the Nuvaring is that it contains newer generation progestins that may not be as safe as older types and there are concerns that some rings randomly release massive hits of fake estrogen; which has led to the manufacturers, Merck, being aggressively sued.
The trouble with the Ortho Evra patch is that it’s dose of fake estrogen is pretty high. The alleged deaths and suicides it has caused in some users have also resulted in its manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson, being sued.
Unlike the combined pill, the contraceptive injection is progestogen only. However, just like the ring and patch, the injection has additional safety issues, such as bone loss and osteoporosis. Because of these concerns women under 18 are advised not to use it. And following the trend, it’s manufacturers Pfizer have also been sued.
There are hormonal (read: three things we’ve gotten wrong about the coil) and non-hormonal copper options available. But these have the disadvantage of having to be shoved through your cervix.
what about the pill’s pros and cons?
💔 all important side effects:
All hormonal contraceptives have side effects. With the combined pill you could expect some weight gain, some headaches, and a ride on a never ending emotional roller-coaster. However, everyone can react entirely differently, see the list of potential side effects.
💔 taking a whizz on the world:
You eventually piss out the synthetic estrogen from your pill. This is flushed into the water system and is not filtered out.
This means it ends up in our drinking water or in the rivers and seas. This is bad for us and bad for the fish; it causes problems with their sex differences and thus leads to less reproduction. Decreases in fish populations, as most people are aware, have major detrimental effects to the whole food chain and ecosystem.
💔 what company you keep:
When you take a prescription drug a pharmaceutical company profits. Some of them have some pretty shady practices and by using their products you are implicitly supporting these.
For example Bayer (makers of pills such as Yasmin and Microgynon) are also the largest manufacturer of neonics; toxic bee-killing pesticides that have almost been banned in Europe. Bayer have allegedly spent millions of dollars attempting to influence policy makers and prevent any laws being passed that would restrict the use of the controversial pesticides. They also contributed millions of dollars towards a huge study to assess whether or not bees are actually being killed by neonics; but after the scientists found that these particular types of pesticides were indeed a serious problem; Bayer accused them of presenting false information. The lead author of the study, Dr Ben Woodcock had this to say about Bayer:
Most hormonal contraceptives only have one or two versions on the market but the combined pill has many; you can choose different types of hormones, different doses and different routines of taking them. This means in theory you can find the pill that feels best for you.
But a word of caution; this choice (in relation to trying different types of pill or different contraceptives in general) can sometimes lead you down THE RABBIT HOLE; where you think you’ll eventually find the one that feels right, so you put up with all sorts of hormonal turmoil in the process and slowly start to forget what ‘normal’ feels like…
If you’re determined to try various types it may be wise to have substantial breaks in between each; so that your hormones have a chance to return to their regular pattern and you can accurately assess ‘stable hormone-free you’ vs ‘pill-ed up you’.
💚 medium organisation:
You don’t have to be that precise with what time you take the pill everyday, compared to the mini POP pill, but you do still have to remember to take it every day at a similar time (excluding your pill break if you have one). Taking one pill every day sounds laughably easy but it does require more organisation that you might expect.
💚 pale-trouser proof:
Compared to the POP pill, and other progestogen-only types, you are less likely to have random spotting or bleeding.
💚 removable ready and insertion free:
You can stop using it immediately if you change your mind or start to feel like you’re losing your marbles, and it doesn’t involve a painful and potentially risky procedure. It can take months for your body to start regularly ovulating again, but at least you don’t have to wait for a doctor’s appointment.
💚 slightly glamorous and munchable:
You’re carrying little pills around with you so you can get laid all the time. When you start taking them there is at least a fleeting moment where you think ‘yeah, I’m cool’ (anyone who denies this is lying).
Katy Perry has said that she swallows her pills ‘‘like candy; nom nom nom…’’ So you could try that too if your cupboards are looking pretty bare.
💚 never awkward:
Before, during and immediately after f*cking; the pill can not be seen, it does not have to be touched, it cannot be smelt or heard and neither of you can feel it.
And you certainly don’t have to talk to each other…
Or even look each other in the eye…
The most important point to remember is that hormonal contraception is not good for your physical or mental health. So if you have a valid reason for using them, they are still only a temporary option.