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The Pill: Has It Made Our Lives Simpler Or More Complicated?

There’s no question that the birth control pill has given us modern women an undeniable amount of freedom that our grandmothers didn’t have — both sexual and cultural — since its introduction to the free market 50 years ago. But what it’s costing our generation is an increased likelihood of infertility, or so says New York magazine’s cover story this week, “Waking Up From The Pill.” While it’s not news to link the birth control pill to women waiting later in life to have children, and thus infertility, because of their diminished egg supplies as they age, writer Vanessa Grigoriadis does have a new perspective on why this is so. She claims it’s because taking the Pill makes women either forget altogether about their biology until it’s too late or to think of it as something controllable by modern medicine.

“For women who have spent so much of their lives pressing the off button on their bodies while on the Pill, it’s upsetting to learn that there’s no magic pill that causes instant impregnation,” she writes. Grigoriadis suggests that the Pill is duping us, really, to think we have more choices than we do — by making us numb to our bodies and by making us think that fertility can always be controlled. The article, though a thorough examination of the many ways the Pill has affected society, is really incensing some people who see it as a criticism of women who wait too long to reproduce for being naive about their bodies.

I personally agree with Grigoriadis; we don’t take responsibility for understanding our bodies and how they work because, on the whole, we aren’t encouraged — by schools, parents, society, ourselves — to understand our biology. We assume doctors will just take care of it. And a lot of the information we receive is just wrong. I, like “Sophia,” who was quoted in the New York article, remember being told in 9th grade health class that I could get pregnant any day of the month so I should always use “protection” if I’m sexually active. Not true! You can only get pregnant three to five days of the month, ladies. This means that those of us who are regular could map out our cycles and just avoid the expense of the Pill altogether.

This phenomenon, of course, isn’t unique to the birth control pill. We expect doctors to fix our insomnia, sexual dysfunction issues, blood pressure, etc., rather than try to understand why our bodies are acting out in these ways. Because modern Western medicine is successful in so many ways, we have become increasingly ignorant about how our bodies operate and, perhaps, developed a false sense of security about how to control our health. What do you think: Is the Pill to blame for increased infertility? [New York]

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