It's been a crazy month for birth control news. A new study released by JAMA Psychiatry earlier this month drew a direct correlation between hormonal birth control and depression, with women on the pill said to be 23 percent more likely to be on an antidepressant than other women.
That was surprising enough, but in the wake of such game-changing information being released to the public, Broadly published a brilliant piece by writer Bethy Squires examining the dirty history behind keeping birth control side effects secret.
As Squires tells it, there's a long, disturbing history of doctors withholding important information from patients on the pill. Back when contraception was illegal in most states, researchers took other, more drastic means in their quest to develop an oral contraceptive. Their methods were outrageously unethical, and included giving the pill to women who thought they were participating in a fertility study and had no idea what the pill was actually designed to do. On other occasions, researchers traveled to Puerto Rico (where birth control laws were more lax) and marketed the pill there without informing women that it was an experimental treatment and that they were inadvertently taking part in a clinical trial.
Often, women dropped out of these studies because they couldn't bear the side effects of the early versions of the pill, which could include anything from bloating and mood changes to stomach pain and headaches, just to name a few.
Crazy, right? It's enough to make your blood boil, and that's before we even get to the part about women in mental asylums being forced to take the pill so doctors could study the effects. You can read Squires' piece here.