Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Cover story in New York Magazine questions The Pill

November 30th, 2010 by Giovanna Chesler
The Pill makes the cover of NY Mag

The Pill makes the cover of NY Mag

Rare is the feature on women’s health from a magazine hip to New York City’s nightlife, dining, arts and entertainment.  Within the past two months alone the magazine featured articles on the Julie Taymor Spiderman play, Jimmy Fallon and John Stewart. Not what one might consider provoking and thoughtful. Yet this week’s issue arrived with a juicy six page article titled Waking Up From the Pill that asks readers to consider the side effects of hormonal birth control.

The author begins her journey at a 50th anniversary celebration for the Pill, hosted by a pharmaceutical company, for “a couple-hundred bejeweled women in gowns” who toast to the Pill’s gift of reproductive freedom for women.  But author Vanessa Grigoriadis notes a stunning social side effect of hormonal birth control – that women are waiting to conceive, particularly women in New York who “have shifted their attempts at conception back about ten years. And the experience of trying to get pregnant at that age amounts to a new stage in women’s lives, a kind of second adolescence.” She adds that this period is marked by anxiety and obsessions.

Interestingly, Grigoriadis elides information on the Pill’s physical side effects like increased risk of blood clots, strokes, decreased sexual drive and the like, and focuses only on the social side effects. Perhaps fearing a lawsuit, her language strongly connects infertility solely to durational use of the Pill that lingers beyond a woman’s natural reproductive age. “The Pill didn’t create the field of infertility medicine, but it turned it into an enormous industry. Inadvertently, indirectly, infertility has become the Pill’s primary side effect.” Be sure to read on.

One response to “Cover story in New York Magazine questions The Pill”

  1. Laura Wershler says:

    Wow. As a budding journalist, I can appreciate that the writer chose a focus to make her journalistic choices about what information to include, and thereby avoided many other issues concerning the Pill. I scanned through the comments (59 at last count) and content suggests she DID hit a nerve, though many disagreed (some vehemently) with her focus, her arguments, her analysis.

    One of the more interesting comments, made by more than one person, took issue with the writer’s suggestion that the Pill has kept women from understanding their bodies. Now that statement I know from long experience to be more true than false. Lack of body literacy – the understanding of menstrual cycle function and impack on health and well-being, both on and off the Pill- is rampant, and no one will convince me otherwise.

    I think its interesting to see someone take a different approach to the Pill issue, even if I think Vanessa Grigoriadis could have done a much better job if she more deeply understood the issues at play.

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