The Skinny on the Pill

By Ama Corrieri

If you’re a living, breathing human being over the age of 12, you’ve probably heard of “the pill”, also known as the birth control pill. In 1960, the pill was approved for use as a contraceptive. Only a few years following it’s release, approximately 2.3 million women were on the pill. With perfect use, it reportedly lowered your chance of pregnancy down to a narrow 1%.

Contraceptive pills with day dial and condoms, close-up

According to Guttmacher Institute, in recent years “sixty-seven percent of women who practice contraception currently use nonpermanent methods, primarily hormonal methods (the pill, patch, implant, injectable and vaginal ring), IUDs and condoms. The rest rely on female (25%) or male (8%) sterilization”.

Meaning we are still a society basing our primary method of pregnancy prevention on condoms and oral contraceptives.

Along with pregnancy risk reduction, birth control showed a slew of other positive benefits. It seemed to be a miracle pill. Helping to regulate your period, reduce heavy flow, clear acne, prevent cysts, lessen period symptoms, normalize hormones, the list carries on.

The only issue is; it works differently for everyone.

Every single woman on the pill has a different reaction to it. There are different types of pills to chose from, from various brands and various hormone combinations. Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin. They prevent pregnancy in multiple ways. Suppressing ovulation, thinning the uterus lining and thickening cervical mucus.

Yes, I know it sounds really nasty, but it’s your body here so woman up.

Then there are Progestin only pills. These solely thicken your mucus and thin your uterus lining. You might not think which pill you pick is important- but it is.

With each combination comes a plethora of mild to serious side effects. Side effects can include but are not limited to spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain, mood changes (depression, depersonalization), missed periods, decreased libido, visual changes and more.

You may be thinking at this point in the article “what does this have to do with beauty?”

First of all, chill. Take a deep breath. Zen.

Second of all, everything.

Birth Control’s oral ingestive hormones directly affect your skin. For the good, bad, and the ugly.

For many people, the pill has the wondrous effect of regulating their hormones and giving them a flawless canvas. For many other people, it throws their whole body into a swirling hormonal vortex creating a chaotic landscape similar to the one Apollo landed on. Personally, I have tried the implant and the pill. I have hated both.

It takes a lot of no’s to get yes’s sometimes in life. The pill is no different. Of the contraceptives I’ve tried (Nexplanon and Syronix) I have had a skin issues with both. I have combination skin, get the occasional breakout but nothing serious. Both hormonal contraceptives threw my mind, body and soul into the vortex. I recently stopped taking my Syronix cold turkey. Mistake. My hormones are still adjusting to that blunt decision.

Giving me some unsightly but manageable cystic acne. Everywhere.

Before going to the clinic and getting your hands on anything you can get cheap or for free. Which seems like the logical choice. Take a minute to discuss with a GYNO or someone there about your options. Many pills are tailored for certain side effects. Someone, such as myself, with easily effected hormone levels opted for the lowest hormonal disruption possible with my insurance. Someone who has no issues with this will have more options available.

And if you’ve already taken the plunge into uncharted territory and are regretting it, don’t panic. Stress will make matters 100% worse. Which I learnt the hard way after heading to my GYNO this month after having my period twice, assuming of course I was dying, only to be told I needed to take a pill.

A chill pill. Also my birth control pill. That pill too.

There are various ways to calm your hormonal skin. Surprisingly or not, they’re mainly from the inside out. Keeping extra hydrated will help your body regulate itself. Taking a relaxing bubble bath, a tea break, doing a face mask- will all help. Use this as an excuse to show yourself a little extra love. Spot treating may help as well. One thing to never do when having cystic acne flare ups is to pop and pick at them. Your skin at that time is very sensitive and this will usually result in scarring. Trial and error with some mild products. Don’t assume because your skin is freaking out at the moment you need to bring in the heavy artillery just yet, that might make things worse. In the battle for beautiful skin you need a plan of action.

Chances are your middleschool, highschool and even college didn’t discuss your contraceptive options. This is an issue that affects directly the way our entire society works. More educated people means, more educated decisions.

Don’t shy away from birth control because of the side effects. The typical period of time it takes your body to adjust to them is 3 months. This seems long, but having your life changed will feel longer.

4.1.1

If you are low on funds or your insurance doesn’t cover the cost of birth control. You can call and speak to a representative at Planned Parenthood or do some online research. There are various sources that can aid you in obtaining the pill for either free or at a reasonable price.

As women and anyone who menstruates, it’s entirely important to know about our complex anatomy. Especially existing in a world where it can be jeopardized at any moment.

The one thing that can’t ever be taken from you is knowledge. An informed woman is a powerful one.

Good luck!

 

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