There's a Pill for That
By Kathy Reschini Sweeney
Long ago, in a generation far, far away, before there was 'an App for that' there was a pill. Oops - I should say The Pill. The Pill was a medical marvel - actual birth control that didn't depend on calendars, latex or anybody's rhythm or lack thereof. Side note: I could never hear a priest say 'rhythm method' without cracking up a little. Don't tell me that the theologians who make up these things don't have a sense of humor.
But back to The Pill. Great, great, great. They started using it for everything. Birth control? check. Acne? check. Heavy bleeding? check - and why the hell not? When I was 14 and suffering with heavy periods and cramps, my regular doc ( a pediatrician - not even an OB/GYN - never even saw one of those until I was 18) just put me on The Pill. Let me be clear that I was NOT sexually active. Birth control was not an issue for me in 1974. But I was on The Pill. Never thought twice - I was just happy I wasn't incapacitated for several days a month. Half the women I knew were on The Pill for one reason or another. And you can repeat that scenario in every town in every country where The Pill was available. We should have known it was too good to be true.
Because - uh oh - thirty or forty years later, SOMEBODY decided we'd better check in on the impact of all that straight up Estrogen on a couple generations of women. Keep in mind that there was no 'low dose' Pill at the beginning. I'm not even sure it's legal to prescribe the kind of hammer dosage they were passing out like Halloween candy back in the day.
You know the rest. Most traditional HRT came to a grinding halt. New protocols out the wazoo. Whew! Good thing we figured THAT out. Too bad it was TOO FUCKING LATE for most of us.
Talk to anyone in the Oncology business - cancer in the women of our generation is skyrocketing. One reason is obviously better detection - we are identifying cancer earlier - that's a good thing. But the other reason is the one nobody wants to admit. It's the The Pill's chickens coming home to roost in the form of nasty cells in our breasts, our ovaries and our cervixes (cervixi?).
Am I pissed about this? You bet your sweet bippy I'm pissed. Because we are supposed to have EXPERTS who protect us from this kind of nightmare. The FDA was created in 1906. You'd think four or five DECADES would have been enough time for them to get their act together.
Research on The Pill began in the early 1950s. It was approved for "severe mestrual disorders" in 1957. Quote from the PBS Need To Know article:
"1957: The FDA approves the pill, but only for severe menstrual disorders, not as a contraceptive. An unusually large number of women report severe menstrual disorders."
Despite some pretty troubling side effects from the trials (those were conveniently ignored) The Pill was approved for birth control in 1960. The year I was born. Also, the Pirates won the World Series. (For many of us in Pittsburgh, it seems like it's been that long since we've even SEEN action in a World Series - but I digress - and could someone PLEASE find us a decent starting pitcher rotation?)
So here we are in 2014. Our sisters are STILL dying from breast cancer. The best treatment medicine has come up with involves mutilation. Or the injection of poison. Or both. Prevention? Not a clue - there are correlations with smoking and genetics has a lot do with it, but there is no exercise or other regimen that reduces risk.
Except for The Pill. I don't need the same 'experts' who should have caught this decades ago to tell me what I observe on my own. We are paying for the decisions of our youth - even though we had no way of knowing.
Oh - and don't forget - as an added Bonus - we have no safe treatment options for the freak show that is menopause. "Put in a ceiling fan" is the best advice I got. Medical options? Big Pharm? Sorry - unless you want to play another round of Russian Roulette with hormones. I'll pass.
If you think I am just bitter and angry and looking for something to blame - NO SHIT. Because that's what my brain needs me to do in order to avoid a criminal spree that involves a trip to DC. And, duh, anger is a welcome emotion for My People. Fear? Not so much. And yes, I know what Master Yoda says, and he is right. But he should have said: "Take The Pill - You Should Not".