16 Haikus on the Freedom and Frustration of Birth Control

If I’m any indication, women spend an incredible amount of time mulling over, dealing with and, definitely in my case, whining about birth control. Anyone close to me knows I have a laundry list of gripes about it, in all its maddening, life-saving forms. Where one makes me dizzy, the other makes me depressed; I feel continually limited by my options. And yet, I have full, unbridled access.

As birth control continues to be politicized and women’s governance over their bodies continues to be debated by (mostly) old dudes, I’ve been thinking a lot about how lucky I am to whine about IUDs and pills and patches. So many women are increasingly and horrifyingly losing that privilege. So in celebration of the frustrating and comforting freedom to choose, I asked a bunch of women (and a couple men) to pen me their best birth control haikus: the good parts, the bad parts, the at-least-we-have-it parts. Together they paint a colorful picture of what it looks like to control your own body, a right that shouldn’t be up for debate.

Take a stroll through the above, write me your own, then catch up on our other poetic endeavors re: sexvirginity, first kisses, giving birth, pickup lines and puberty, and join in there too.

Slides designed by Emily Zirimis.

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  • Long-time pill user
    I quit after eight years
    Finally, relief

  • Olivia F

    My first IUD
    came out with my diva cup
    well that’s annoying

    trying out the pill
    Disregulated feelings
    is the sex worth it?

  • Abby

    off the pill
    “trying but not trying” now
    nothing yet

  • less blood, less acne
    docs keep pushing IUDs
    I’ll keep the pill please

  • Nutella Fitzgerald

    periods, but no bun in
    this oven of mine.

  • Anna

    Regular, crampless
    Able to choose when to “mom”
    Please don’t take away

  • Alycia

    Six years on the pill
    So fucking depressed
    Love ya, IUD <3

  • Caroline Fallon

    Any added hormones
    Make my boobs painful and huge
    So Copper it is.

  • TinySoprano

    Bye most of the pain
    Bye most of the heavy flow
    Hello my freedom

  • Natasha

    Halfway through the day
    Sudden panic, I’m not sure:
    Did I take my pill?

    • Ugh I do NOT miss that…

  • Andrea Raymer

    Took pills for 8 years.
    My doctor virgin shamed me.
    I don’t see her now.

    • How rude of her! Sorry that you went through that.

  • It’s “au naturEl” with an E

  • Sarah

    first pill, hungry bitch
    second, sexless and down
    fuck off hormones

    next with withdrawal
    felt free, yet so worried
    IUD help me

  • Jac Young

    CAUTION: The hormone IUD rapidly caused me to grow fibroids and cysts around my ovaries and uterus. I didn’t have these before the insertion at ultrasound time. Less than one year later I had three large cysts/fibroids. There’s not enough research for doctors to confirm it was the IUD’s fault. Was it just a coincidence? I THINK NOT. I had the doctor take my IUD out pronto. The doctor could not admit it was the IUD’s fault, but intuition told me it was. Then (here’s the kicker) I was told because of the fibroids and cysts I may not be able to a carry a baby to term. The IUD literally meant NO BABY for me…ever. =(

    Side notes (but not as important as the effect above):
    1: The insertion of the IUD was the most excruciating moment of pain. The pointed ends puncturing through a wall …. ouch.
    2: The IUD changed my period blood in a gross way. After insertion my blood turned to a dark brown thin layer of gunk. It took about three years after having it removed to get back to my healthy red blood.
    3: Sex hurt. Those pointed ends and his probing penis were a stressful and painful affair. Also, sex hurts from the pressure of the fibroids. The IUD was a mistake for me.

    Lots of people never have a problem, but lots do.

    • Jac Young

      This isn’t a poem. But it is truth and truth is everything.

    • Elly

      You too? I had the copper IUD, no fibroids or anything when it was inserted, and then a few months later I’d grown a huge fibroma that deviated my uterus to one side and took up all of my pelvis. No idea if it’s related to the IUD, in fact I’m pretty sure my uterus has been growing random eggs and tennis balls all my adult life. But it’s striking that I got the IUD put in and almost immediately grew a huge stonking boulder. It grew to about 8 inches. I had a hysterectomy, which means at least I got rid of the IUD along with the uterus. And thankfully I didn’t want kids.

      The insertion was quite interesting, it felt like having a period really fast and backwards, but I wouldn’t say it was painful. But, yes, my period blood got a little Lovecraftian. And then of course the pressure from a giant fibroma is no fun at all.

      I don’t know if there’s much research into whether an IUD, especially a copper one (no hormones) can make you more prone to fibromas. My reproductive organs generally didn’t seem to enjoy its presence that much. A friend of mine grew a bunch of fibromas from her fertility treatment, also.

      • Jac Young

        There’s a lot of money to be made in the selling of IUDs, so I don’t think our stories are collected responsibly. However, the timing of the growths compared to receiving an IUD are red flags that we as consumers have a responsibility to share. Otherwise the IUD will continue to be promoted as a fool proof birth control. Like I said above, lots of people never have a problem, but some people have serious problems after getting an IUD. It’s my duty to share my experience. Thanks for sharing yours too, Elly. Much appreciated. Take care.

        • Elly

          Thanks! The thing is also that I didn’t worry about many of my fibroma symptoms, because I attributed them to the IUD. Crushing period pains? It’s the IUD. Rivers of blood? IUD. Strangely localised weight gain? IUD. Difficulties peeing? IUD. The only way I could get my GP interested was by mentioning my IUD wires seemed to have disappeared, otherwise she was like “hmm, you must have gained weight, you sure you haven’t changed your diet lately?”. I wonder how many women are walking around with these things, especially if they don’t have coverage or can’t afford to go to the doctor.

          And honestly, so much to do with women’s reproductive health is murky. So much invites the response “bodies are all different” or “yup, periods will do that”. Lots of women do seem to share their stories on this stuff, going by Google, but there’s very little information to be found other than those stories.

  • Elly

    Just wanted to say Leandra’s haiku made me laugh out loud.

  • Leah

    Wondering if you’ve ever thought about doing a price on the fertility awareness method, better for your body & you get in sync with what’s happening naturally in order to get pregnant, or not, or just to stay in tune with what your body’s doing.

  • Lauren B

    Reading these haikus from some of the MR writers and commenters It makes me say fuckkkk. I say “fuckkkk” because 1. Not all women have the right to birth control 2. There is no good birth control. Women have to be thankful for a subpar product.

    How do we collaborate/ rally/ lobby as women to get a better product? (Serious question here) When will pharmaceutical R&D give the pill and iuds the attention they deserve so they don’t fuck us up with hormones? We need unbridled access to birth control AND better birth control. Anyone have any ideas of how to get this done?

  • it’s a crime scene down
    there with my copper thing in
    blood is everywhere, yikes!

  • Annie

    Wanted reduction
    Got single, Pill free, boobs shrunk
    No sex/pretty bras

  • Annie

    *Wanted reduction
    Got single, Pill free, boobs shrunk
    No sex, but cute bras

  • Jessica Eikenberry Paullus

    Got an iud
    Went off the pill lost ten pounds
    Never going back