birth control pills

page updated: 31-Mar-2004

Pills cost about $20 (Canadian) a month at a drug store and are refundable on some medical plans. I buy mine for $10 a month (cost) at the Regional Health Unit Birth Control Clinic, which sells them for cheap on the condition that you get an in-depth education from a volunteer, a pelvic exam at their clinic once a year (free) and a check up with a doctor at various intervals (also free). They are anonymous and confidential and all that and generally run a good service. They like to involve the male partner, and got a big kick out of my getting a pap smear in the middle of a date while my beloved waited in the lobby. Coffee, pap smear, movie. A productive evening.

The first brand (doctors say "flavour"?) of pills I was on was Alesse, which is very low-dose and left me with annoying breakthrough bleeding and periods beginning on random days. I also had weird and quite bad tummy cramps (like intestinal, not uterine) for those five months that went away when I switched brands, but which no doctor thinks was due to the pills. I don't know. The reason I waited five whole months to switch was that it takes a few months to adjust to a hormone level, and side-effects take that long to settle down. These pills were ugly sage green in a pink rectangular blister pack with arrows between daily pills, all inside an ugly sage green vinyl pocket to keep the light out. They tasted like chemicals. I got the 21 day kind with no week of placebo TicTacs to round out the month. I like a week of not taking a pill every day. I hate always having pills in me.

Alesse brand birth control pills have just embarked on a ridiculous marketing campaign involving thin girls with bouncy hair, big eyes and smooth skin giving lifestyle advice which is in no way related to birth control ("A lesson in style: no one remembers how you arrive... it's how you leave. Alesse." "A lesson in appearance: fashion is something you buy; style is something you possess. Alesse." Presumably Alesse is now short for "a lesson" and pregnancy is now a look). It bugs me that they are trying to make prescription drugs a lifestyle accessory. Kind of pointless though cause I don't think very many doctors let you pick your own drugs.

Anyway, my current pill flava is LoEstrin, or charming MiniEstrin in French. These are slightly higher dose but still low because I get migraines and high-dose pills could trigger them. They are minty green in a white square blister pack with arrows between daily pills and a set of calendar stickers to put across the top of the pack to label the days of the week, with the option to start on any day. Clever. They come in French too. The whole thing is packaged in a vile black vinyl/suede (?!) pocket. For some reason they have been flavoured to be minty. They are 21 day also.

Recently I got a pack of 28 day pills, because the clinic was out of my usually preferred 21 day. That isn't too exciting except that the spare week of pseudo-pills is this stupid pink colour, and the arrows on the pack are orange instead of green. I didn't take the extra pills, so my boy said he would. He chickened out for fear they might not be entirely hormone-free. Also it is nice to not take pills.

The extra week of pills confused me. Normally it is easy to look at the pack and see how many days are left until I bleed. These ones tricked my into thinking I had an extra week. Minor issue :)

I briefly possessed a trial pack of TriPhasil brand three-phase (three different hormone levels per month) pills, white, yellow and red in a teal (!) blister pack in a teal pocket with horrible pink celestial suns on it. Who designs these things?? The suns looked like skulls!

I bet someone soon gets the brilliant idea to make pills in glittery girlie cases to match the shitty lady razors and other products they've made that way lately. Chicks will probably start buying the man-pills if they ever come out, just to get them in cooler cases. Man razors kick ass on lady razors (sorry, i used to work at this grocery store and we kept all the razors behind the counter where i stared at them when there were no customers).

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The Canadian Women's Health Network has produced two printable posters about direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. I'm not the only one who is disturbed by corporate “education”— awareness is your immunity.

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