The Pros and Cons of the Pill, From the Experiences of Three College Women

As you enter college, now motivated with a point to prove and a name to speak, there are endless new concepts to manage, including individual sexual health. When many women realize the importance of navigating their personal relationships with excitement yet caution, they consider using a form of birth control, one of these being “the pill,” a medication established over 50 years ago that millions before them have used. Most women invest in a prescription for these mainly to prevent pregnancy, as the name implies, but many women also use it to regulate and lighten periods as well.

The pill has many benefits, including being 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly (more realistically a 91% when accounting for a few errors, according to plannedparenthood.org), but can easily intimidate women looking at the option, with their disadvantages you may have heard on the street or around campus. If you’re not sure if the pill is a good choice for you, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered—here are three honest reports about the positives and negatives of birth control, all from women in Washington State. If you're considering the option even a little, the time to act is now. 

*Disclaimer: these opinions have not been reviewed by a medical professional for accuracy, and all of these experiences are subjective. Every woman’s body is different, leading to different experiences with the pill and other forms of birth control. Additionally, it’s crucial to recognize that the pill does not protect against STIs.*

Interviewee #1: 

"I started the pill in July 2020, mainly because my period pains had gotten progressively worse every month, to the point where I seriously thought I was going to end up in the hospital. So, the Registered Nurse I visited prescribed me progestin-only pills and said I should notice a difference in both the pain level and flow in about three months. Luckily, the pain level I was at went from a 9 to a 2 within the first month and has definitely made my period lighter and more regular, so I was pleased to see how fast it was at being effective. I’m also fortunate that I haven’t been met with any noticeable side effects in my experience so far. The only drawback is that sometimes it’s been difficult to remember to take the pill at the exact time every day, so if you’re someone who may have trouble taking it within the same hour daily, I would consult your doctor about long-term methods of birth control instead, like an IUD or the shot." 

Interviewee #2: 

"I’ve been on the pill (a combination brand) since January 2019, so about two years now, and I started it to not get pregnant, the typical reason, but also to regulate my period every month. It works pretty well to regulate my period and make it lighter, but in the beginning I had really bad mood swings. I don’t have any side effects anymore—I’ve had friends who have caused them to have more acne, but that might depend on the different kinds of mix of hormones you’re prescribed, so if you ever get any unwanted side effects, I would take to your doctor or provider about switching the type. If you’re thinking about it, I would also recommend taking extra or multivitamins with it! It’s a great way to regulate your schedule of taking it at the same time every day, and you can take vitamins on birth control without risk that the hormones will be affected."

Interviewee #3: 

"I was on the pill for 5 months because I started Accutane, which is an acne pill that required me to be on 2 forms of birth control (so I used the pill and condoms). I liked that it made my period regular—I’ve always had a super irregular cycle, so the consistency was nice. However, I had terrible mood swings, I was crying all the time, and my hair started to come out in clumps. So, I decided to switch to the implant a little over a year ago, which has so far been working great! Now that I’ve had it for over a year, it’s safe to say I have no side effects, but my period is back to being irregular. For those considering trying the pill, my advice would be to really research the side effects, and pay attention to how you feel once you start it."