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Happy Birth Control

Did you watch Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein? I know there are mixed feelings about this documentary but I loved it. Sometimes you need to be a bit one-sided to get your point across and this film totally does that for natural birth.

The team is back with a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a documentary about hormonal birth control, Sweetening the Pill. I just made my pledge and will have my eye on the count down in case the project needs a last-minute top-up. In case you can’t tell, I really want this movie to get made!

Before I decided to try for a baby I had been on the pill for about 10 years. On the pill my periods had dwindled away to practically nothing, a fact that none of the gynecologists I consulted found at all alarming. In my early twenties I was also diagnosed with polycystic ovaries via ultrasound but told to just keep taking the pill as that was the indicated treatment. Concerns about my ability to conceive in the future were again brushed away: “We’ll see about that when the time comes”. How very reassuring…

Fast forward to June 2013. My husband and I decide it’s time to start trying for a baby! Yipee! Out goes the hormonal birth control. In typical happy mama style I read up on everything and anything related to fertility and conception, stumbling across this awesome book in the process: “The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant” by Jean M. Twenge. Amongst other things she discusses an odd practice called “Fertility Awareness”. The bible for this method is “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. I track down the only second-hand copy in Brazil and start reading.

My mind is blown. Who knew the female body was so awesome! I start tracking my cycles and what do you know, my periods are completely regular AND I ovulate on exactly the same day each month. Four months later I am pregnant and the rest is history.

But you know the scariest thing? Just before I got pregnant I went to see a gynecologist for a check-up. He ordered an ultrasound to examine my polycystic ovaries. When I did the scan there was not a polycystic ovary to be found…

My experience does not count as scientific evidence but it has made me deeply suspicious of hormonal birth control. Learning about fertility awareness made me realise that there are alternatives to fiddling around with a condom wrapper in the semi-dark. But the pill is ubiquitous and women who reject it are often criticized for their lack of responsibility (this happened on a BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour show last year). Fears of side-effects get ridiculed (I used to belittle women who said the pill made them crazy or fat until I stopped taking it and gained two kilos in as many weeks!). I’m hoping this documentary will go at least some way to redressing the balance. Of course the pill has its good points. But it’s time to get the skeletons out of the closet and provide women with real alternatives.

More of the same: looks like it’s the first time I’m delving into the sticky topic of fertility and birth control…

This time last year: The Minimalist Dilemma: where do you draw the line?

By Julie

I’m Julie, 30-year old mum to a baby boy, translator, writer and wife. After nearly 5 years in Brazil, our little family has just moved back to Europe.