Like many women between the ages of 16 and 35, I have been on birth control (HA! Almost typed “girth control”) My results were pretty typical. I didn’t get pregnant (yay) my skin was clearer (yay) but I also was grouchier (boo) and chunkier (nooooo). So I stopped. I thought about what I was ingesting, this tiny pill that had such drastic effects in my body.

Yaz and Yasmin are the top selling – $1.8 BILLION last year – pharmaceutical line for Bayer. Yaz, the most popular birth control pill in the US, rose to popularity not only for pregnancy prevention powers (say that three times fast) but for alluring promises of clearer skin and drastically reduced PMS and related depression. For any woman who’s wasted an entire day on her side, knees pulled up to her chin in agony, feeling disgustingly unattractive and like her insides were going through a blender, that’s one hell of a lure.

Bayer has found itself on the receiving end of 74 lawsuits from women who claim they developed health problems after taking Yasmin or Yaz. (I bet you this ends up on “Law and Order” with a “RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES” tag). In light of these lawsuits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked Bayer to correct misleading commercials and make clear the warnings, including the possibility of blood clots and strokes. Now the commercials for Yaz begin with “We may have been unclear in our previous ads” which makes me laugh. Even the look on the actress’s face says “We got busted.” The FDA is now studying incidence of illness among users of oral contraceptives.

Let’s look at the science. Birth control pills work by changing hormone levels – specifically estrogen. Some doctors have suggested lowering the risk by switching to pills containing levonorgestrel, considered a “safer” ingrident than those in Yaz.

While Bayer had some seriously shady advertising, the user of any birth control should do her homework and research the pill she takes, and be aware of its possible side effects.

PS. Next time let’s talk about Nueva Ring – because all my girlfriends rave about it, and I’m still not 100% sure about shoving a friendship bracelet up my vagina.

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