All hail the man who changed the face of sex. Dr Carl Djerassi, who developed norethindrone, a molecule that became a key component of the first birth control pill, sadly passed away over the weekend, aged 91. While other methods of birth control – the coil, for example – are totally great, and the pill often gets a bad rep for making us all sad and fat, some of us would prefer to take a tablet every day rather than have a metal thing inserted into their uterus. And that portion of society would like to thank Dr Djerassi for all his help. Especially when we found found the dream pill that hasn't made us grow a moustache and cry whenever we see the sky (both of these things genuinely happened to someone in the Debrief office). Thank you, Carl, for allowing us to have drunk sex with our boyfriends without waking up in paroxysms of guilt and to go about our day knowing we're not pregnant.
Here are five reasons the contraceptive pill has enriched our lives, other than the obvious. As in it's stopped you giving birth at a time when you really don't want to be giving birth because you live in a rented house, don't have a job, are a bit suspicious about your choice of boyfriend and just ate readymade mash cold out of the pot because your microwave's broken and you can't afford to fix it.
(Dr Djerassi also wrote about the feasibility of a male pill, which we're incredibly in favour of. Fingers crossed the ongoing trials go well...)
You can control your period
While it's obviously not ideal to plough through your seven-day bleedy break (technical term) every single month in the hope that you'll never have to faced with your period again, you can keep on going with those pills if you're, say, embarking on a lifetime holiday which will be spent solely in bikinis. Or about to perform a stage play in all-white lycra and no pants. Or something else that would make your period not only difficult but incredibly inconvenient. Also, once you find the pill you like, the PMS all but disappears aside from a monthly 'ugh, time to crack out the period knickers', which is certainly cause for celebration. Since going on the pill three years ago, the writer of this very article no longer had to stay off work with cramps and stomach 'issues' so catastrophic she once threw up in a bath while there were plumbers round her flat. Working on the bath.
You'll learn a lot about yourself
You've not lived until you've been put on a pill that, in doctor's speak, 'isn't right for you'. Translated into human speak, this would be: 'Turns you into a fucking mad person that you don't recognise, neither physically nor mentally.' All the ladies who've found themselves stood in a crowded shop crying on the in-breath on the phone to their boyfriends because they're fat and alone put yo' hands up. When you're on the right pill, you won't notice any difference. When you're on the wrong pill, you'll consider having yourself committed until someone (or yourself) points out that this all started two weeks ago when you were put on Microgynon. Yeah, it sounds awful, but it also really teaches you about yourself and tests your relationships to the max. Can your boyfriend cope with you at your lowest ebb? How good are your friends when you call them at 3am because you feel like you don't have any friends any more? Can your wardrobe cope with weight fluctuations? All of these things need to be addressed at some point, so you might as well get them over and done with.
When you win the side-effect pot-luck game, it feels wonderful
Some can be awful (as detailed above) but some can be golden. Dianette, for example, is an incredible acne treatment first, and an effective contraception second. Yasmin can make some people lose weight (and some people put on weight, that's the beauty of the pot luck, guys). For every negative side effect, there's a 'oh, whoa, my hair looks so great' effect, and if you manage to nail it then the euphoria won't leave you for months. And you'll talk about it all the time. We're really jealous of you.
It makes you feel like a competent adult
Life has so much admin, people getting pissed off at you, people changing plans, people changing plans then getting pissed off at you, huge to-do lists that make your brain hurt and that dentist appointment you keep forgetting to go to. When you remember to take your pill every day for a month, it basically shows you're a real woman, with real responsibilities, who can remember to take a pill every day for a month. And that's an achievement. The fact that the Queen doesn't send hand written congratulatory messages after each month you go without doing the whole 'oh, I skipped one so now have to miss the break' or the whole 'oh, I skipped four and now have to buy 17 pregnancy tests and do one every other day' thing is criminal. These things should be celebrated.
It also makes you feel like you might be a wizard
No matter how much you research what's actually going on when you take that pill, and how much you know about what it's doing to your uterus, there's always that sneaking feeling that there's a wizard ordering your eggs to run away from sperm via the medium of magic. No? OK, fine. Concentrate on the other four points then. Boring.
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Picture: Molly Cranna
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.