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Ask a Sex Goddess
Dear Sex Goddess ~ I am considering going on the Pill for contraception, as well as relief of period issues like PMS, cramps, etc. But one of my close friends, who used to be on the Pill, tells me that she went off of it because it causes cancer, and she thinks I should avoid it. Is this true? If the Pill causes cancer, how can so many people be on it? I want to be responsible and comfortable. What should I do?
Thinking About It
Dear Thinking About It ~ Unfortunately, your friend is entirely correct. In 2005, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified the Pill as "carcinogenic to humans" putting it in the same category as tobacco and asbestos!! Taking the Pill, as well as other forms of hormonal contraceptives, doubles a woman's risk for breast cancer, and that risk is heightened the younger she is when she begins to take the Pill.
As to why so many women are on the Pill, in spite of the dangers...Well, there are a lot of answers to that question. Part of it is education: while most women are aware that there are side effects associated with taking the Pill, they are rarely aware of the extent of these side effects and how dangerous the Pill is to their general health. Many women are prescribed the Pill with little-to-no information about the dangers. Part of it is marketing: the Pill is not the only potentially lethal product used by people all over the planet. There are still millions of people out there who smoke cigarettes, and EVERYONE knows that cigarettes cause cancer. But the Pill is marketed in such a way, to consumers and doctors alike, that we are made to think it will make our lives easier, our emotions more manageable, our sex lives more exciting and spontaneous.
Of course, any woman who has been on the Pill can tell you that these promises are rarely fulfilled. Women report experiencing anxiety, depression, loss of libido, and a host of other painful side effects that make life more difficult, not less. Women who use hormonal contraception to manage issues with their menstrual cycle often find, in coming of the Pill, that these issues have not gone away and in fact have been worsened by lack of attention and hormonal suppression. On top of all of this, the Pill isn't even fail safe! Women often do become pregnant on the Pill, and these pregnancies can be very risky due to nutritional deficiencies caused by long-term Pill use.
Of course, another reason so many women go on the Pill is a general negativity associated with menstruation and women's fertility. The current culture treats women's fertility (and this includes menstruation, pregnancy, birth, and menopause) as an obstacle, a problem to be solved, a disease to be cured. The Pill is seen as a way to put the lid on the messiness of being a woman.
Sex Goddess says that women are not tuperware, and thus do not require lids!! So if you are thinking of going on the Pill, think twice. There are a number of other ways to manage menstrual problems naturally and there are a number of equally as effective forms of contraception that carry no risk of causing cancer.
If you're interested in learning more, check out this excellent book, The Pill: Are You Sure It's For You?
Do you have a question? Email SG at SexAndRelationships@WireTapMag.org.
1. I hate rules!
2. There are no stupid questions, only stupid hang-ups.
3. Pleasure came before political correctness, and so should you!
4. Love yourself first.
Who: Who I am is unimportant. I do, however, enjoy sex, dally in various relationships, and on top of that I am an organizer by trade, or perhaps faith. I declare here and now that I know as much as anyone about sex and relationships -- which is roughly nothing and everything.
Why: Organizers, activists, change makers, closet progressives -- people trying to save the world often have a hard time figuring out how to ... do it. Whatever it might be at the moment -- love, dominate, submit, indulge, deny, give, take, fight, let go, wonder, know. I secretly suspect that if everyone were able to find the freedom to really love and please themselves (not to mention each other), the world would be a much more peaceful place.