Category Archives: Birth Control Pills
There have been countless articles and comments making their way through the public consciousness regarding Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic comments about Sandra Fluke, but I would also like to respond to this recent event and how it relates to the double-standard that many Conservatives espouse.
For those of you who don’t know, Sandra Fluke is a law student at Georgetown University. She wanted to speak before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. The issue at hand was whether or not religious institutions should have to provide health care coverage for birth control. Sandra Fluke has long been an advocate for women’s rights, but she was denied the opportunity to speak before the committee regarding the issue. Sandra Fluke testified instead to the House Democratic members. And then, Rush Limbaugh decided to attack her on his talk radio show.
“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. […] So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal: if we’re going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. […] She was not allowed to testify because it was not about women at Georgetown who have so much sex they can’t afford birth control. […] She’s having so much sex she can’t pay for it, and we should. […] So the woman comes forth with this frankly hilarious claim that she’s having so much sex — and her buddies with her– that she can’t afford it. And not one person says, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?”
Clearly, Rush Limbaugh has no idea how birth control works. Here’s a hint, Rush: it isn’t like Viagra and it isn’t like condoms. A woman doesn’t just take a pill when she intends to have sex that day. Hormonal birth control can take two weeks to start being effective when a woman is initially prescribed the medication, and she has to take a pill almost every day for it to continue being effective. The cost of birth control is steady, no matter if a woman is celibate or if she is having sex multiple times per day.
I recently discussed the statistics of women who use birth control here. The vast majority of women who use hormonal birth control, literally, MILLIONS of women, use it for reasons other than contraception. That is why Sandra Fluke wanted to testify before the committee, not because she wants the country to pay her to have sex. But that clearly isn’t how Rush sees it.
It appears that Rush Limbaugh, like so many of his fans (and myself, at one time), has the dangerous and simplistic view that there are two types of women. There are “nice” women, who choose to abstain from sex until they are married, and there are “bad” women, who don’t.
As recently as 60 years ago, we were a predominantly agrarian society. It made evolutionary sense that a young woman who was unmarried remain a virgin. After all, she would not be the one to inherit her family’s property and farm, and her eventual husband would want to be sure that any children that came during the marriage were biologically his.
This is no longer the case. Indeed, unless women are still “property”, then virginity and chastity before marriage no longer actually matter. With the industrial revolution and the later sexual revolution, women are no longer relegated to the home, and they are no longer dependent on the men in their lives to provide for their livelihood. They are also free to engage in sexual activity if they so desire, without the fear of becoming pregnant with a child that they are unable to provide for. Women who do become pregnant outside of wedlock, or who cannot provide for a child are also derided by the vast majority of conservatives. I would go so far as to say that they view any woman who has refused to relinquish control over her own sexuality as dangerous, and would prefer that all women remain abstinent until they are married.
It is unrealistic to tell young women that if a woman cannot provide for a potential child, that they should completely abstain from sexual activity. Sex is natural and a healthy part of an adult life. Indeed, I personally believe that a woman who enters marriage without having experienced any form of sex is doing herself and her partner a disservice. If the two are sexually incompatible, or do not understand the mechanics of sex for pleasure and intimacy, the inevitable dissatisfaction will fester and the relationship will suffer with infidelity or divorce.
To Rush Limbaugh, the fundamental worth of a woman lies in tending her marriage prospects, and ensuring that her father or husband have complete control over her entire sexuality. Rush clearly still views women as property. But his comments did not just attack Sandra Fluke. His comments attacked all women.
Yesterday, I read a heartbreaking blog at the Daily KOS, which can be found here. A 16 year old young woman was attacked by her peers for taking hormonal birth control to manage her menorrhagia and secondary dysmenorrhea, both of which are incredibly painful and traumatic for a young woman. Girls at her school used Rush Limbaugh’s words to cause this brave young woman further pain and trauma. Her mother has spent days trying to convince her daughter that taking a prescription to ease her pain does not make her a “slut” or a “prostitute” any more than taking ibuprofen for a headache does. I hope that during this mother’s visit to the principal and school counselor today, she demanded that the harassment and bullying stop immediately.
Rush, you gave a classic non-apology to Sandra Fluke, saying that your words were “in poor taste”, but only after you started hemorrhaging advertisers. I want to see a real, heartfelt apology to ALL women for your hateful and horrible words. I demand that you stop your harassment and bullying of women, immediately.
This picture has been making the rounds on Facebook recently. It has a lot of really important statistics, but I would like to point out a couple of things.
1. Millions of women use hormonal birth control for reasons other than for contraception. If a “house of worship” would be happy to cover the cost of Vicodin for post-surgery pain, why wouldn’t they also be happy to provide pain relief for women’s menstrual cramps, or the awful pain that is related to endometriosis?
2. Why is it a big deal if women want to be on birth control because they want to use it as a contraceptive? Religious leaders seem to be absolutely obsessed with the state of a woman’s uterus. For Christians, the argument seems to be that using contraception goes Genesis 1:28 (“Be fruitful and multiply”). With nearly 7 billion people on the planet today, that argument just isn’t relevant.
3. Religious leaders seem to honestly believe that they should be able to force women into the false dichotomy of “married women who have sex are saints” and “unmarried women who have sex are dirty sluts who deserve to be punished by being unhappy, disease ridden, single mothers who will never get out of poverty”. There’s no middle ground in this argument. At some other time, I will discuss The Purity Myth, which I believe is required reading for nice girls who like sex.
4. I would like to see an additional statistic here. I recently read in the New York Times that areas with wide access to information about contraceptives, and contraceptives themselves, have fewer incidences of abortion. One can correlate that there are fewer unintended pregnancies, and therefore fewer abortions. (For those of you that somehow don’t know, abortion is a widely discussed and controversial topic in the US, and is particularly reviled among the religious.)
Lets get religion out of health care, out of legislation, and OUT of the bedroom. What you or I do in private is nobody’s business. If a woman wants to have sex, she should be able to do so without her employer or her health care provider making her feel like she is a bad person for wanting to do so without getting pregnant. In the end, the only people who should have any voice in the matter are the ones in the sexual relationship, who would be the parents of any child that was conceived in that relationship.
Birth control pills revolutionized the way women approach sex in the 1960s, and they remain one of the most popular forms of contraception. In the United States, birth control pills can be obtained only via prescription, and there are many different varieties to choose from. Most birth control pills come in a package that holds 28 pills. 21 of these are pills that have hormones in them, and the other seven are generally sugar pills. Sometimes the other seven have iron in them too.
What They are Made Of, and How They Work
Birth control pills are generally a combination of two hormones that already occur naturally in your body: estrogen and progestin.
The estrogen prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. The progestin changes the mucus in your cervix to make it harder for sperm to reach the uterus. If there is no egg, and the sperm can’t get to the uterus, there is no chance of becoming pregnant. Some types of birth control pills also change the uterine lining to make it harder for a fertilized egg to implant.
Things to Keep in Mind
Birth control pills are the most effective if they are taken at the same time every day. A lot of people make sure of this by carrying around their pills (a lot of pills come in a nice case for them), a bottle of water, and setting an alarm on their phone that goes off every day.
If you ever miss a pill, check the insert that should have come with your prescription. It will tell you what to do when you have forgotten to take a pill.
There are certain medicines that will make birth control pills less effective, especially antibiotics. If you are sexually active, taking birth control pills, and you are also on antibiotics, you should use a second form of birth control (like a condom) to make sure you do not get pregnant.
Birth control pills will only prevent you from getting pregnant. Unlike condoms, they will not give you ANY protection against STIs. If you are sexually involved with someone, and you do not know their STI status, you should use a barrier method as a second form of contraception to ensure that you do not contract an STI.
The Bottom Line
There are many different types of birth control pills, with different levels of hormones in each one. Sometimes one pill will give you side effects that you don’t like, and it is perfectly okay to talk to your doctor about these side effects and request to change to another type of pill. Every body is different, so it may take some time to find one that works the best for you.
The wide availability of birth control pills made it possible for a woman to have a satisfying sexual life without worrying about becoming pregnant. If you are thinking about becoming sexually active, you should talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for a contraceptive.