- Sex & Drugs
- 16 Nov 16
With the exception of condoms, the responsibility for avoiding pregnancy has generally fallen on women. But men are entitled to control their own fertility too. The question is: how?
When I first started taking the contraceptive pill, I experienced depression, mood swings and low libido. Any one of these would have been bad; together they were unbearable. It’s little wonder that particular pill was rated 99.9% effective – I didn’t feel much like having sex with my partner, and the mood swings ensured he didn’t fancy having sex with me either!
My doctor told me to give it a few months to see if things settled. They didn’t. They got worse. He suggested waiting another three months before changing prescriptions. Instead I changed doctors – and pills. This time the side-effects included acne outbreaks, nausea and tender breasts. Fun indeed! At least I no longer wanted to kill either myself or my boyfriend, so that was a plus. Still I persisted, through hormonal trial and error, until my new doctor suggested the mini-pill. It doesn’t work for every woman, but it worked for me.
For those who are affected, the side-effects of hormonal contraception can range from unpleasant, such as acne or weight gain, to fatal – there is an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, breast cancer and, for women over 35 who smoke, heart attacks. Long-acting reversible contraceptives have side-effects too. These can include depression, blood clots, serious pain from intrauterine devices, increased bleeding – sometimes every day of the damn month – or no bleeding at all. The reason very many women are willing to put up with side-effects, and potentially take risks with their long-term health, is because contraception (generally) prevents the more immediate risk of an unplanned pregnancy. Then again, as a Trinity College survey this week confirmed, in Ireland, one in six pregnant women suffers from pre-natal depression. And 15% experience post-natal depression.