Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Birth control pills and the childless woman

Did you know that birth control pills were not legally available to unmarried women in all U.S. states until 1972? The Pill was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960 and was not prescribed even to married women in every state until 1965.

Think about what a difference The Pill made in people's lives. You could have sex without worrying about getting pregnant. You didn't have to deal with condoms or the various other iffy devices available then. All you had to do was take a pill. You didn't ever have to get pregnant if you didn't want to. Suddenly women had a real choice about whether or not to have children or when to have them. It gave them a freedom they had never had before. Since then, the number of women who don't have children has more than doubled, not a coincidence.

As those of us who are childless by marriage know all too well, The Pill also made it more likely that we would not have children with partners who didn't want them.

In 1972, the man who became my first husband hurried me to the San Jose State student health center for a prescription. He wanted sex but not babies. In those days, the hormone dosages were huge. I suffered every possible side effect--bleeding, bumps, nausea, weight gain, and more--before trading my pills for a diaphragm. When I married Fred, I didn't need birth control because he had had a vasectomy. I remained childless.

Today's birth control pills have fewer side effects and in fact are often prescribed to help with bad periods and other problems in the reproductive department. Of course, we worry a lot more about sexually transmitted diseases and need to take precautions. But pregnancy? The Pill took care of that.

What brought all this up? I was looking for some updated information for my Childless by Marriage book and came upon this fascinating site called http://www.thepillcom. If you dodge, the ads, you can read the whole history of birth control there.

How about you? What is your experience with birth control?

3 comments:

Elena said...

Since my "childless by a committed relationship that ended when I was 38"-experience i feel really ambivalten towards the pill.
I call myself a feminist and i know for certain that before the pill, men would get women pregnant and then leave them - to manage all the problems, maybe have their baby taken away from them, and adding injury to insult, taking the blame. So ok the pill is great.
But on the other hand what happened with the pill is:
Men are still not taking responsibility for the baby making. Wether it's avoiding a pregnancy or actually getting pregnant - it's all up to us and some of us get betrayed. Sometimes being left alone pregnant, nowadays more often left alone wishing for a baby we'll never have.

Suelick said...

The pill definitely has its good and its bad sides. Thanks for sharing this.

Olga said...

I have been using pills and plaster since we married with my husband. Then after 3 years we acknowledged he is infertile - so it may seem that we used it for nothing. But as I have skin, ovary and period problems - I was advised by doctor to use them anyway. So i kept on taking the pills even though I knew I wouldnt conceive without them. But a couple of months ago doctor announced I have a fibroid - and the reason is pills. He advised to stop taking it and i had to choose between skin and period problems and growing fibroid. So, I agree with Sue - pill do have both sides...

and as for women who think they control child birth by means of pills. In my opinion, the one who is really controlling - is God, its not in your hands to change his plan for your. I know girls who missed only one pill and conceived immediately and other girls who have been trying all means to conceive and failed. Dont think that its you who decides whether to have babies or not.