I want to talk about..."The Pill"
I know you also have thoughts.
I recently watched The Business of Birth Control, a new documentary produced by Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake. The documentary is a (necessary) deep dive into the birth control industry and ever since I saw the film, I can’t stop thinking about it.
I think I speak for many women when I say—I had pretty terrible experiences with birth control. I experimented with about seven different versions of the pill between the ages of 16 and 24, and many of the stories that were shared by women in the documentary reflected my own lived experience. While on the pill, I experienced weight gain, chronic headaches, huge mood swings, and anxiety, to name a few side effects. And later, after coming off the pill, I experienced huge hormonal imbalances, caused by stress that led to dramatic hair loss, chronic acid reflux, and debilitating period pain. I went from doctor to doctor looking for answers, where I heard the same thing over and over—”You should go back on the pill.” Eventually, my mum stepped in and told me I needed to see an endocrinologist, so I did, and that finally helped me get to the root of my symptoms. My endocrinologist also told me one of the biggest truth bombs I’ve ever received about my health—that my period isn’t supposed to be painful.
We have been socialized to accept that pain during your period is normal, when in reality, your period can be a fifth vital sign. But debilitating pain means there’s probably something else going on (stress, an underlying condition like PCOS, etc.), and taking the pill will only mask that pain by stopping your regular hormone production and therefore your menstrual cycle. In other words, if you don’t know the root cause of your pain, the pill is just a band-aid. This is covered in the documentary, which makes it clear that we need to be more educated on how birth control actually works so that we can advocate for better options and solutions.
But there’s a catch—criticizing birth control is a highly controversial conversation (for good reason). On the one hand, birth control affords people with the freedom to define their reproductive choices. On the other hand, birth control options can have severe side effects and wider implications on a person’s health. In the documentary, we learn the dark history around the (lack of) transparency from drug companies that should be communicating these side effects—it has ties to the eugenics movement and has also led to women dying as the result of taking birth control.
To be clear, I firmly believe every person should have the right to choose their own reproductive path—whether that be going on birth control, not taking birth control, having an abortion, or having children. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the privilege of choice is not widely available—there are still many countries that don’t allow birth control and there are still places where access to birth control is a critical tool that protects women from carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term. With the rise of anti-abortion bills currently moving through the U.S. courts, reproductive choice is more important than ever.
In recent years, there’s been a rise in women demanding better solutions from the pill, with glimmers of progress emerging from research trials on male birth control and contraceptive options like the Fertility Awareness Method taking off in popularity. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that these changes are happening in our most connected era—more women are talking to each other in friend groups and online social communities, making the conversation more accessible and less taboo.
We’re certainly talking openly about our experiences with birth control and what we know about the options currently available to us in Diem. In fact, we’re hosting a conversation on this with the CEO of The Lowdown, a review site for birth control, Alice Pelton today. We also chatted with the Director of The Business of Birth Control, Abby Epstein, about all of this. Listen to that conversation here.
What was your experience with birth control?
What We’re Reading...
💰 The unspoken power of an emergency fund. Writer Emily Courter shares her experience with not having a sufficient emergency fund when she went through a divorce, and what that’s taught her about financial literacy now. (The Power Outlet)
🌎 ”I’m transgender. I won’t be getting an X on my passport.” While the new option to put an “X” on your passport might really mean something to a select few, there’s an easier, cheaper option that might really advance inclusion for non-binary folks. (The Washington Post)
Who we’re Dieming with…
Conversations in Diem feel like you’re dialing in to a call with your most knowledge-able friends. Here’s a selection of wisdom going live (in the Diem app) this week.
Re-discovering desire with Alessandra Henderson & Dr. Laurie Mintz. Live in Diem as of Monday. Listen here.
The Importance of Preventative Health with founder of Womanly Mag, Attia Taylor. Live in Diem as of Monday. Listen here.
Step Into Your Power As A Heart Centered Leader with Alexandra Trevisan. Live in Diem as of Monday. Listen here.
Take control of your contraception with Taylor Majewski & Alice Pelton. Live today at 12pm EST. Listen here.
“Don’t Scroll Up”: My BF follows IG models should I care? a new series with Amy Fraser & me(!) discussing this age-old debate. Going live today 5.30pm EST. Listen here.
Circularity in Beauty with Jina Kim. Going live today at 6.30pm EST. Listen here.
Build an empowering financial foundation with financial coach, Jen Mayer. Going live today at 8pm EST. Listen here.
The future of the creator economy with Natalie Barbu. Going live Wednesday at 12pm EST. Listen here.
Hormones and your skin with Allie Egan. Going live Wednesday at 12.30pm EST. Listen here.
We Can’t Have It All – So Why Do We Keep Trying? with Y7 founder, Sarah Larson-Levey. Going live Wednesday, 5pm EST. Listen here.
Stop Self Sabotaging with Iman Oubou. Going live Wednesday at 6.30pm EST. Listen here.
The Freelance Jungle with Morgan Johnson. Going live Wednesday at 8pm EST. Listen here.
Fast Growing Start-ups: What it’s really like with Michelle Kwon. Going live Thursday 12pm EST. Listen here.
How to embrace and love your career with Fran Hauser. Going live Thursday 5pm EST. Listen here.
Is your career hurting your personal life? with April Beyer. Going live Sunday, 8pm EST. Listen here.
See you next time,