birth control pills

page updated: 31-Mar-2004

My current method of birth control is the capital P Pill. These are available by prescription, and on the condition of having regular pap smears. I kind of hate The Pill. It does weird things to me and makes me feel out of tune and not in control of my body. Sometimes it makes me resent being sexually active and want to be a nun (not a religious one).

However, it is very effective and easy to take, and the latex free sex is great fun. I do find that my periods are way lighter and shorter (gradually down to about two hours for awhile but now up to 3 or so very light days), which is nice but kind of creepy. Other side effects have been random breast tenderness, random tummy tenderness (like tender ovaries), minor facial zits for the first time in my 20 year existence (no really, up until the pills I'd had 8 zits. It was a big joke. Now I usually have one somewhere for the first week of the pills. Not complaining, just a comment.), generally less severe menstrual cramps (until just lately), and that I gained about 5 pounds when I first went on them.

Birth control pills are a sequence of 21 small hormone pills, which may be identical ("uniphase") or composed of more than one type (usually 3/triphase I think). These 21 pills can be followed by either a week of no pills or 7 "spacer" sugar pills for people who would forget to start taking pills again after a break.

The hormone pills contain a fake estrogen (estradiol) and a progesterone, which mess with your own hormones and effectively make your body act pregnant instead of fertile (see hormone cycle for details). Different brands have different levels of hormones, some higher than others but all of which are "low dose." The original birth control pills from the 60s that tended to cause blood clots and strokes and other ugly things were much higher dose. The low dose ones can still cause those, especially if you smoke, but the risk is much less than before. Pills need to be taken at the same time every day to be most effective, and the rest of the instructions come inside each pack.

I avoided going on pills for some time. My beloved and I used condoms carefully with no problems for 2 or 3 months, but after dealing with their inadequacies and noting that it would actually be cheaper to be on the pill than pay for the number of condoms we tended to use in a month, we went to a walk-in clinic and got a chat and a free two month trial from a guy who had totally stolen a labcoat and was pretending to be a doctor. He was friendly enough, but I'm glad I read the instructions myself to find out how long you have to take the pills before it is safe to leave out the condoms and whatnot.

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I quit taking pills in June 2005. Until I overhaul this section, new details are collecting in the blog.

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