The Less Advertised Side of Birth Control by Myesha Hossain
Birth control has been the changing force for how women approach sex in today’s world. It has allowed women to have sex solely for enjoyment without the fear of unwanted pregnancy, letting them have greater control over their pleasures, without leaving it up to a man. The pill as we know it today has endured its journey to liberate women from the perils of sex and other complications. We have heard stories of girlfriends who undergo abortion procedures—sometimes a terrifying decision, but always a liberating one. On the other hand, we all either know of or have heard of someone in former generations bearing over ten children.
Margaret Sanger is a woman like no other. She is the statue of strength and inspiration for many who search for liberation from unplanned pregnancies. Her determination to give women back their voices is unmatched and will forever be a testament of bravery within the female heart. Her journey and fight to help free women from the unlawful claws of society started when she was just a child. At a young age, Margaret found herself standing idle as she watched her mother pass away from severe complications after giving birth to eleven children and an additional seven miscarriages. Today, Margaret is known for pioneering birth control clinics all throughout the United States, which has evolved to the renowned Planned Parenthood we know today. Through her initiative, women today use the pill for reasons beyond contraception, including regulating their menstrual cycle, controlling acne, reducing the risk of ovarian cysts and uterine cancer, and so much more.
Birth control has so many positive aspects to it, which is reflective of how many women are currently using it - an impressive 10 million women in the United States are on the pill. Besides the obvious, the pill is known to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle in many ways, one being balancing hormone fluctuations, which help with heavy or irregular bleeding. Other women use it to alleviate themselves from incredibly painful cramps and menstrual headaches. The menstrual cycle can also be controlled by taking birth control pills. The benefits of the pill are endless -- who would have thought Sanger started a revolutionary movement when she began spreading awareness on the importance of birth control?!
While the benefits of birth control have empowered several women, some of which have drastically improved their livelihood, there are some aspects of the pill to consider to gain further control of one’s health. Several studies show that contraceptive pills alter a woman’s natural mate preferences - a man she would typically be attracted to without the pill is not the same man she will be attracted to when on the pill. Certain hormones that are introduced to the body when on the pill suppress ovulation and cause a short-term loss of fertility. As a result of this, heterosexual women have different intentions when choosing a man. A woman on the pill is more likely to pursue a more agreeable partner who assists with child-rearing and care instead of a more genetically compatible man. Ironically, that same woman will become attracted to the man that will be most receptive to her in case she does have a child! Another study from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, brought light to what happens to women's attraction for their partner once they stopped taking birth control pills, despite taking the pill during the time their relationship started. The results of the study showed that once these women stopped taking contraceptives, their overall attraction to their partners tends to decrease. When these women entered the peak of their fertility window, they were more likely to express desire and attentiveness to the men they found more attractive outside of their partner.
To bring about the most diverse collection of genes to strengthen a child’s immune system, that child’s mother and father should have incompatible immune systems. Women not on birth control gravitate towards men with an immune system different from theirs, while women on the pill were typically seen to be attracted to men with similar immune systems to theirs. A study from the Interdisciplinary Center at the Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology explored the strength of immune systems in those children who were born to mothers who were on the pill at the time they were dating their child’s fathers versus women who were not on the pill at the time. The results showed that children whose mothers were on the pill during the time she met the father were more prone to infections, required more medical care, were frequently sicker, and were less healthy compared to children whose mothers were not on the pill. The increase in sickness in those children could also account for the fact that women who are on the pill experience more nutritional deficiencies than their female counterparts. One study, by Aloysius Nwabugo Maduforo and his team, discussed that women on the pill experienced deficiencies with folic acid, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C, A, and E. These vitamins are crucial for healthy organ function, immunity, circulation, and so much more. Along with that, these women also had lower levels of important minerals, including iron, copper, magnesium, sodium, selenium, and zinc. These minerals are important to maintain bone and teeth health and ensure muscles, the brain, and the heart are working properly. Even for those women who are not planning to give birth to children, would not want to experience deficiencies as they want their body to function as optimally as possible, while still minimizing their risks for unintended pregnancy.
Don’t be discouraged - this is not to say you should stop taking your birth control pills. Instead, it is to develop a deeper understanding of the different sides of birth control and how you can gain control over these factors to live the healthiest life possible. There are some things you can do to ensure you have a healthy operating immune system. Diet is one of the most important aspects you can manipulate to work to your benefit or your detriment. Eating large portions of leafy greens, broccoli, fatty fish, fresh fruits, and vegetables are key to replenishing those lost nutrients from taking the pill. As for the studies on attraction, coming off the pill is a hormonal time. It is a wonderful way to rekindle your relationship with your partner and find creative ways to connect and be vulnerable - that is the ultimate key for longevity in any relationship. In a nutshell, keep having safe sex, get your servings of fruits and vegetables, and make sure you are connected to your lover or someone close to you.