Brianna Heldt is a writer, speaker, and radio show host. She blogs at www.briannaheldt.com, has been a featured guest on BBC Radio, and her work can regularly be found in other online publications as well. A convert to the Catholic Church, Brianna explores topics ranging from faith and social issues to adoption and large family life. She and her husband make their home in Denver, along with their eight children.
Have you seen this article yet from the Huffington Post?
They’re reporting on a study that demonstrates what many have quietly suspected for some time: there is a link between hormonal birth control and depression. And, teenagers seem to be most at risk.
For anyone out there who’s ever had the misfortune of using the pill (you can’t see me but I’m raising my hand), this may come as no surprise. As if the headaches and exhaustion weren’t bad enough, the mood swings were far, far worse. I went from being an emotionally stable, happy young woman to being prone to crying and becoming angry at the drop of a hat. Thank goodness I had a supportive husband who encouraged me to be done with the whole matter, and who rejoiced with me when we conceived our daughter a few months later. (Best surprise ever, by the way.)
Polite society is of course perpetually uncomfortable with the truth about birth control — nobody really wants to talk about the side effects and risks, or about how it seems to go against natural law by telling us something is wrong with our otherwise healthy bodies. On the rare occasion that I have broached the subject with a friend and voiced a few of my concerns, I’ve been met with defensiveness — and a clear preference for steering clear of the answers I had spent years searching for. How am I supposed to think about marriage and children? Is using an abortifacient birth control method ever permissible? Why does God call children blessings, when everyone talks like they’re such a detriment to married life? What does it mean to be created female?
I’d never imagined that my questions would eventually lead me to the steps of the Catholic Church, or that the truth had been out there all along for the taking.
Most people (like me when I was in my early twenties) simply don’t know, or can’t fathom a God who would care so much for the small details of how we live our lives. Something so readily accessible and widely used as hormonal birth control surely couldn’t be problematic...how else am I supposed to regulate the number of children we have...if doctors prescribe it, it can’t be bad for me. I know that’s what women are thinking because I had all those same thoughts myself, and I believed that you couldn’t have a healthy marriage without contraception. I had unwittingly bought into the culture’s vision for sexuality, in large part because I saw no other vision.
This is why it is so very crucial for Catholics to first believe, then live and tell the truth about the dignity of the human person. We possess the fullness of the faith, we have unlimited access to the graces available through the Sacraments, and we are charged with sharing the hope of Christ with the world. This hope involves every last detail of our lives, and certainly who God created each of us to be. And in a world hungry for love, acceptance, and purpose, we are incredibly fortunate to be in an actual relationship with this God, who has through the Church given us everything we need to know and do in order to live a good and fulfilling life. (Note that I didn’t say happy. No guarantees there.) We must not shy away from sharing these beautiful truths with those who simply don’t know, fellow Catholics included.
According to a recent poll conducted by Pew Research, only 13% of those attending Mass weekly agree with the Church’s teaching that using artificial birth control is a sin. That statistic is both humbling and troubling, because it means we are somehow not reaching our own brothers and sisters with the truth about the mystery and beauty of human sexuality. It means the vast majority of people attending Mass are either unsure or skeptical of God’s perfect plan for married men and women. It means that some number of couples is struggling with the demands of marriage and parenting, and perhaps do not have the necessary supports in place to remain open to life. So I applaud the Huffington Post for running this piece. While the author is not morally opposed to artificial contraception, it is ALWAYS a good thing when the downfalls of hormonal birth control are exposed. Few are willing to say that the pill is bad for women.
Whether you’re Catholic or not, there is no shame in stopping to ask yourself some hard questions about contraception. And I assure you that the planet will not explode if you decide to reconsider using it. Things like the pill and IUD have wrought havoc on women and their bodies for decades, and it’s perfectly okay to say so. Because we, and our daughters, deserve better.