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Is Ignorance Keeping you Unwell?
Ronit Sky

For most women we start the path towards puberty and stress at an early age. Not only are we swamped with changing tampons, deodorants, and razors but new feelings and issues about sexuality arise. Although the social pressures on men to have sex tend to be to be heavier, the pressure for women to have sex has become stronger. We have slowly moved away from idealistic virginal expectations of women and have moved into a society that glamorizes sexy women having sex, virginal women having sex, and every other woman in the spectrum…having sex. But this enchanting orgy comes with consequences. Consequences such as: babies, AIDS, STD’s, STI’s—not to mention heart break and other emotional baggage.

Our media doesn’t surface these truths as often as the sexy ideals. But, in the last ten years there has been a noticeable emphasis on the “birth-control world.” New and “easy” ways of tricking our hormones and eggs have made their way into our lives and bodies. Commercials on TV, ads in magazines, pamphlets and posters everywhere are advocating that women should protect themselves from pregnancy. That’s very funny because all along I thought that it takes a woman and a man to make a baby. But nearly all of the advertisements are for female birth control. The only way men can protect themselves from pregnancy are condoms and there are very few Trojan commercials and advertisements, compared to female birth-control ads. It’s very “interesting” that the only birth-control for men has no side effects or cancerous future. Even the way our society has determined who will be protected and who won’t be protected mirrors what sex would want to take the “risk” of engaging in sexual intercourse.

Yes, sex is great. Sex should be enjoyed by two consenting people. The problem with pushing sex into the lime-light has many consequences. But, as a sexually active, 19-year-old woman, I see many consequences of the way we distribute, advertise, and communicate potential problems associated with birth control to today’s female audiences.

Flip open any Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, or Vogue and you will see at least two ads consisting of two pages each that advertises different types of birth control. Yes, it’s great that women are being encouraged to protect themselves and not be ashamed by birth control. These are all positive things. But, for new types of birth control like Yasmin and Ortho-Evra “the patch,”(there are a ton more), we are still unaware of the long-term side effects that go along with the long list of new birth-control items that are now on the menu.

The most important side-effect that has been noticed in early research is the effect these hormones have on many, women who smoke, over the age of 35. In the fine print at the bottom of every ad there is a very important warning that is over-looked by most. It says: “Women, particularly those 35 and over, are strongly advised not to smoke due to the risk of serious cardiovascular side-effects including blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.” Liver tumors (which can cause severe bleeding) and breast cancer are possibly linked to oral contraceptives (such as Yasmin). These are very severe consequences.

Not only are these consequences proven, but they are life threatening. What the ads do not say are the effects that they are not forced to put down because of the FDA. Things such as: a noticeable weight-gain, mood swings/depression, facial breakouts, and other things associated with cranking your body full of hormones.

I have many female friends and 80% of them are on birth-control. Out of that 80% only 20% of them have not had any side-effects. The other 50% of them have experienced major-mood swings resulting in their family and friends commenting about their depressed moods and yelling-rampages. My dear friends are not crazy, they just had some issues adjusting to the birth control. They kept taking the pills and patches and their bodies, over-time, adjusted to the hormones or they eventually stopped using them. It is very important that we as women talk about these, what some would say taboo, issues with each other. Out of all of my girlfriends who’ve experienced negative side-effects only one of the girl’s doctors actually warned her about mood-swings.

We must realize that we have a say in this. The communication between women and doctors needs to be pried open. We must leave stupidity and darkness in the closet that it has emerged from. We must talk to our girl-friends, female-co-workers, mothers, daughters, and sisters. We can’t keep paying our hard-worked dollars to companies that, for some, are poisoning our bodies. Wake up! Go on the net. Research! Find a community of women who will help you instead of hurt you!

Ronit is a Theatre and a Women’s Studies Major at Santa Monica College.




The Women’s College Magazine at Santa Monica College
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