What a difference a little pill has made in the lives of the thousands of woman who have taken oral birth control since it began available 50 years ago. When msnbc.com asked readers to share how the Pill affected them, some women said it allowed them to live their lives on their terms — to marry and have children because they wanted to, not because they had to. Others say some men seemed to feel the pill absolved them of the responsibility of birth control and so if a woman became pregnant anyhow, she was on her own.
To share your own experience, click here. Selected comments will be published. Read on for readers' responses:
I was 14 in 1974, and sexually active. [The Pill] kept me from having to get married to anyone until I was ready to get married. All of my high school friends had to leave high school before they could graduate because they got pregnant and had to get married. I did not have my first child until 1982 at the age of 22 when I was married and financially secure. I was able to take control over how I wanted to live my life and school was more important than to start a family too early.
I graduated from a Catholic all-girls high school in 1973. I thanked my lucky stars those last couple of years (and to this day!) that I didn't get pregnant with my high school sweetheart. I went on to college and one of my first stops was the health clinic to get THE PILL. I have absolutely no regrets about my relationship choices and my sexual activity during those years.
My mother, a nurse, and I had a great relationship and she knew of my decision to take THE PILL. I had her full support.
I am fortunate to have a daughter of my own now. We share a similar open relationship that I had with my mom. One of the first mature discussions my daughter and I had was about being responsible for your own life. If that meant being on THE PILL, then that was a decision she needed to make.
Young adults will continue to have sex as they always have done. I believe it is a single woman's decision to protect herself from an unwanted pregnancy, and I am thankful I grew up in an era when it was possible with just a little pill!
I was 35 when I found out I was pregnant. I was gainfully employed, had a home, and health insurance, and single! Somehow, I was to 'blame'! I was only a year out from cancer treatments so I was unable to be on any 'pill', according to my doctors. The father was fully aware of that fact, even so he was completely 'off the hook'! He was also 35, and gainfully employed and not willing to step up. I had my son and became a happy, single mom. He will be 8 on Mother's Day! I married his daddy 3 years ago and we could not be happier! Why did the creation of the pill take away all the responsibilities of the men?? I love my little family, but often I wonder why men are now raised to believe it's ALWAYS the woman's responsibility?? That's what the pill did for women.
— Kristine Brody, Orlando, Fla.
I "felt" like a real live grown woman and was shocked to hear on the report last night that single women were denied access at one time. I started taking it in 1986 and just took for granted you went to the doctor, got your exam and prescription and that was it. Would have loved to seen the clip of Loretta Lynn on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" talking about her going on it and heard a clip of her song "The Pill."
— Dianna Walcutt, Columbus, Ohio
I took The Pill for a few years in my late teens and early 20's and got pregnant while on The Pill. I haven't used it since. I don't like feeding my body (or the environment) estrogen. I keep track of my cycle and use other forms of protection like a diaphragm or condom. Once I stopped taking the pill, I got in tune with my body and now I understand my cycle and when I'm ovulating. I think teaching women to understand their bodies should be the foundation of family planning. From there, then you can choose the contraceptive method that works for you. The Pill is treated like it's the only contraceptive option, it's not. I had a doctor who was originally from Russia who was appalled that I needed a prescription for a diaphragm. It’s 20 years since I’ve taken the pill and I’ve not gotten pregnant. At this point, I’d like to and I’m glad that my body hasn’t been filled with estrogen that whole time.
The pill sent me to the hospital with multiple blood clots in my lungs after less than 12 days after starting my low dose prescription. I will now be on blood thinners for life and have a lengthy recovery for taking the pill. I am devastated by this. I never took the pill when I was younger. At 38 I needed it to control heavy bleeding along with hopefully regulating my hormones. I'd rather go back and endure the bleeding and deal with the hormones than be where I am now. Always cold, always short of breath and terrified that anything I do will harm myself. I was the rare reaction to birth control.
— K.P., Warminster, Pa.
I was put on the pill as a teen by my pediatrician, without any say in the matter. I was told it was for my own good as I had irregular cycles. The pill taught me to view my fertility as a disease. I stayed on it believing fertility must be controlled, and suppressed. It was the enemy. When I met my husband, he was concerned about by long term health on the pill. I ran, ate organic and lived as naturally as possible. Therefore, I had to start viewing my body as healthy and beautifully created. Why would I take a pill with so many side effects every day, during my entire reproductive life? I have found the Creighton Model of Family Planning. It is healthy, natural and accurate. There was help for my polycystic ovaries and best of all the couple uses it TOGETHER to plan their family. We have used it for 12 years. Maybe our boomer parents thought the pill empowered them? But after living through their failed marriages, "free love", abortions, and absentee parenting, I can see it actually enslaved women as objects to be used. We are determined to do things differently; healthier and more naturally.
As a teenager, I had very difficult menstrual cycles and suffered through them from age 10 to age 15, when an ovarian cyst ruptured. While I was in the hospital, the doctors told my mother to get me The Pill - that it would solve my menstrual issues. She thought it was just giving me permission to be sexually active so never did it. But at age 16, I went to our family doctor and asked for it. From the very first month, it was a like a miracle! No more pain, no more vomiting for days, no more anemia. Eight years later when I got engaged, I stopped taking The Pill and discovered that my cycle had been permanently fixed. I know others have had rough experiences (my cousin had a stroke at age 28 from it) but for me it was a kind of salvation that alleviated considerable suffering.
I am 22 and I started taking the pill when I was 15. My periods were so heavy in middle school that I had to change my pad every hour and sometimes more often. My cramps were so bad I would lay on the floor and cry because I couldn't move. My terrible periods were almost two weeks long. The pill has allowed me to live a normal life with "normal" periods now. I can still function during my periods and I am not on the floor with pain. Because it's not 100% effective at preventing pregnancy, I always use condoms, just in case. I like the reassurance that I have less of a chance getting pregnant and that my body is now under control.
— Caitlin Muret, Wichita, Kan.
I'll tell you how it affected my life. I had broken up with my fiancee and ran into her a few months later. One thing led to another and we spent the night together. Before anything happened she assured me she was still on her birth control. Well 6 months later I found out that she was pregnant and that she purposely "ran into me" that night and had stopped taking her birth control shortly after we broke up. This was her plan to get me back. She didn't get me back, and I have a beautiful daughter now, but I never planned to be or wanted to be in this situation. Now I have a child support payment that I can't afford, a vindictive ex who makes go to court every time I want to see my daughter more, and am stuck dealing with this person for the rest of my life. We NEED more male birth control options. Yes I could have worn a condom, but I was lied to so I didn't. If I had been on the pill then I wouldn't be writing this now.
I went on the pill when I was only 20 years old in 1995. I was not put on it for birth control, but because I have Crohn's Disease and my gastroenterologist told me the pill would help me control my disease, the flare-ups, and the pain. She was right! Thank goodness the pill is out there for us to use, whether for family planning or just to manage our health so we can be normal, participating members of society!