Oh for goodness sake, get your filthy minds out of the gutter! What would your mother say if she could hear those thoughts? (Btw, hi Mom!). Just to be clear, this blog post has nothing to do with sex or the exchange of bodily fluids. Who am I kidding? It has everything to do with sex and the exchange of bodily fluids (sorry, Mom), but in my defense—what doesn’t?
If you are a particularly loyal follower of our blog (first of all, we love you), you might remember when Andrew Dahl got his testicles in a twist after discovering the pill he was prescribed to stall the inevitable shrinking of his precious hairline, could also cause shrinking of a different kind... His article got me thinking about another little pill. A pill I swallowed every day for ten years, since I was seventeen — the same pill popped by approximately eleven million women in the United States every year. In fact, it’s so popular, let’s just go ahead and call it THE PILL.
In some ways, it’s a bit of a miracle drug. By simply swallowing one tiny pill a day, college co-eds all over the country can avoid some seriously nauseating morning-after regrets -- you know, those ones where you wake up after a particularly wild night at the Alpha Tau Omega White Trash Bash in a cold sweat, absolutely convinced that you are now carrying the offspring of a guy whose only claim to fame is holding the fraternity record for the longest keg stand… and then you realize, wait a minute -- you’re on the pill! No babies! Hooray for science!
Not that I was ever quite hip enough to experience those thrill-seeking regrets. I went to a catholic school most of my life, where “don’t have sex” was the extent of our sexual education and like a good little girl I vowed I would wait until marriage (and I tried Mom, really). But still, every responsible, respectable girl knows it’s better to be safe than sorry, so freshman year of college I marched over to the health clinic on campus and got myself a prescription for birth control. At the very least it curbs cramps and clears up your skin, right? I mean, it couldn’t hurt, right?
A couple months later, I settled into a steady relationship with a nice boy from Iowa and my “wild nights” were spent rehearsing Shakespeare or Ibsen or Chekhov, or curled up on the couch in the boy’s quad while my boyfriend and his friends played the latest version of Tony Hawk or Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64 (you’re jealous, I know). So by sophomore year, when that same steady boyfriend and I decided we were ready to take the next step (holding hands, Mom), I had been on the pill for six months. In fact, I stayed on the pill for the entirety of my six-year relationship with that sweet boy from Iowa, through my very brief bout of single-hood (consisting of a couple dates with a cute biologist who studied snails and a two night stand with a guy I met at my best friend’s bachelorette party), and was still on the pill when I met the man who would eventually become my husband (and also, coincidentally, star in episodes 2 and 3 of The Digressions).
So what’s the problem?
Well, about two years ago I stumbled upon something my doctor neglected to mention when she first put me on the pill (or maybe she did, but it was like those commercial voiceovers that detail the various side effects of the latest drug so rapidly you can barely make out what you think are the words “internal bleeding” and “possible death by crocodile”) and it sent me into a full blown panic attack.
First of all, I found out that the pill puts a big ol’ wet rag on your sex drive. Yep, that’s right. Apparently it decreases your level of testosterone (otherwise known as the horny-making hormone), lowering your libido and decreasing your orgasms. Stop. Wait. What? I’ve been on this thing for 10 YEARS! Are you telling me that I could have been having more sex and more orgasms for 10 YEARS? I want my money back! How much is an orgasm worth? 10 dollars? 50 dollars? I want to be reimbursed for every orgasm I never had on the pill!
But that wasn't even the worst of it! I kept digging and discovered an actual scientific study called The “Sweaty T-Shirt Experiment” (who funds these things?), where women were asked to sniff T-shirts men had been wearing for a few days with no showers (who participates in these things?). The research found that most women were attracted to the scent of men whose immune system differed most from their own. Makes sense, right? Find a guy with a different immune system, combine forces, swap fluids and have tons of super-immunity babies. Evolution is brilliant. But here’s the kicker: women on the pill didn’t respond to the same kinds of sweaty-scented men! They couldn’t sniff them out and sometimes sniffed out men with immunity too similar to their own. Think of the biological implications! Think of all those sickly little children born to genetically modified freaks! Like me! Oh god, I thought (and here's where the fear really set in), I was on the pill when I started dating my college boyfriend AND when I met my husband! What if my sense of smell was out of whack? What if they didn’t smell the way they were supposed to smell and I just wasted years of my life with the wrong sweat-scented, immunity-deficient men???
So in a moment of complete panic, I cancelled my prescription, threw away my pills, and waited to find out what the heck would happen to my body when it wasn't being flooded with synthetic hormones. Would I still be attracted to my husband? Would I have better sex? More orgasms? Or would I run directly to the nearest strong-jawed man I smelled sweating on the Astoria Subway platform and demand to carry his genetically superior children my belly?
To tell you the truth, two years later I still don't have any concrete answers, but I do trust that whatever happens inside my body now, happens the way mother nature intended (and sometimes mother nature can be a real bitch).