The Tricolour Sex Column: Birth Control

Side effects of birth control are often overlooked

The Kinky Scholar talks about her experiences with birth control.

The opinions expressed in this piece reflect only the experiences of a brown Queer Muslim woman whose upbringing included poor access to sex education and reproductive healthcare. No article, author, or publication can accurately reflect the experiences of all women. Please read with caution and kindness.

The first time my gynecologist asked me if I wanted to go on birth control, I was 12 years old and my mother was standing next to me, red in the face.

I originally went on the hormonal birth control pill to regulate my periods, and I’ve been on it for about eight years. Every night at around 11 p.m., my phone alarm goes off reminding me to take it. I never questioned this process until very recently.

With reports coming out that the AstraZeneca vaccine has a miniscule chance of causing blood clots, a debate about continuing to administer the vaccine arose. Birth control users played an active role in this discourse.

Some studies put the likelihood of developing blood clots from the birth control pill at 250 times the likelihood of developing blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine, but there’s rarely any widespread discussion on whether we should halt prescriptions of the pill.

Fellow pill users will also know that blood clots aren’t the only potential side effect. When you open a new pack of birth control, you’ll see a pamphlet that lays out, in tiny font, every possible complication from using the pill—from abdominal pain to seizures.  

During the AstraZeneca debacle, I opened a pamphlet and discovered it was large enough to cover my twin sized bed.

Among other things, the pill I’m on can cause mood swings, nausea, and severe migraines.

Though I haven’t experienced major side effects, I often get migraines, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I live in mood swings.

I don’t know if any of these issues I have are caused by birth control. All I know is that, up until this year, I never knew that they could be. I’ve asked doctors, friends, and my own mother about how I might improve these parts of my life, but no one ever suggested I try going off the pill.

This probably has something to do with the fact that most people using the hormonal birth control pill are assigned female at birth, and there’s very little attention paid to their reproductive health.

Concerningly long periods and horrible migraines are seen as just a consequence of womanhood.

I’m looking into other forms of birth control now. Some seem terrifying—I definitely don’t want an IUD shoved inside me—and others seem confusing. I’m happy to be doing research and considering going off the pill, but it does bother me that it took so long.

It’s also concerning that the side effects of birth control are only now entering public discourse, and you can find many more well-written and accessible articles on the COVID-19 vaccine than on alternate forms of birth control—despite our concerns with AstraZeneca arising so recently.

I think we’d all be better off if we stopped accepting the pill as the default form of birth control for women, and if our doctors were more proactively providing information to us. And much better off if we didn’t prescribe the pills to 12-year-olds without letting them know about the side effects.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.