Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

The Stuff We Don’t Talk About

Alright, fair warning, this is one of those posts.

Not too long ago, I was having dinner with a friend.  We talked about everything under the sun: boys, food, work, boys. Suddenly, she says she wants to ask me/tell me something but that she’s embarrassed. And that it’s not the kind of thing she’s comfortable talking about.

Well, I’m cool with talking about any topic. Nothing is taboo with me.

So she takes a deep breath and tells me that she’s recently gone on and has been having this very specific and awkward side-effect (I’ll leave that detail out of the story, as it’s not mine to tell).  So we talked a bit about it and I told her to tell her doctor, to not be freaked out, that I’ve been on one version of or another for almost 20 years and have had all kinds of bad side effects and sometimes it just means changing your specific prescription (I don’t take it for birth control, but for other reasons, not that that matters).

Then last night I was reading this amazing post on Blogher about Birth Control Pills and the effects they have on our bodies (and how they’re marketed and other stuff).

I find it kinda shocking, yes shocking, how little women talk about this amongst ourselves. As I said, I’ve been on the pill for almost 2 decades, and yet I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve talked about it with friends.  And the men in our lives are, for the most part, completely oblivious to the side effects and risks we’re facing – because we don’t tell them.

Which leads me to a bizarre segue.  I LOVED Tracy Clark-Flory post for Calling out “subtle sexism” about the brilliant article in Newsweek on gender discrimination at that publication titled, Are We There Yet?

Women have come a long way, in terms of gender discrimination in the workplace. But there’s still plenty of problems.  And so many of us (us, here, meaning women) seem to fall into the trap of suffering in silence. We don’t tell our male friends and colleagues about the humiliating, sexist things that happen to us on a daily basis at work (well, many of us don’t). Sometimes we don’t even tell our significant others (if we have them). And so they don’t know about it.  Just like they don’t know about the horrible side-effects we suffer from being on the pill.

All of this adds up to a lot of misunderstanding or lack of understanding.  Which is sad.  And silly.  And entirely preventable. We could all just choose to speak up and talk about the uncomfortable stuff.

I’m foolish enough to believe that information is power.  And that sharing information can be powerful.

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19 to “The Stuff We Don’t Talk About”

  1. “All of this adds up to a lot of misunderstanding or lack of understanding. Which is sad. And silly. And entirely preventable. We could all just choose to speak up and talk about the uncomfortable stuff.”

    THANK YOU for saying this. Many people would rather suffer in silence & assume that others either don’t have the same issues they have or that it’s on others to figure out the problem.

    You have no idea how many times I’ve had to teach clients how to just “say what’s on your mind”. So many times it’s “my mate should know that something is wrong and if they don’t notice, then they just don’t care”. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much… such behaviors keep therapists in the black lol. Good post.

  2. There was a survey recently (can’t remember exactly where I saw it – maybe you even wrote about it?) about how little people understand about how birth control works. Seriously scary but also understandable, considering how little we all talk about it. I actually make it a habit of telling my boyfriend each month, “Hey, good news, I’m not pregnant!” because I figure that if I have to worry about it each month, he should too. But the first time I did that, he totally freaked out because I’m on the pill. I had to explain that while the pill is about as good as it gets for preventing pregnancy, it’s still not 100% all the time (and I’m always paranoid that I’m going to be that .01% that gets pregnant even if I’m taking it right). That actually led to a discussion about how long I’ve been on the pill and why I continue taking it even when I’m not sexually active, etc., and I remember thinking that it was not a conversation I’d had with many women and NEVER with a guy…

    • Simone Grant says:

      I didn’t write about it, but now I feel like I have to go find that survey. For the record, I’ve never talked about my birth control with any guy, even though all of the men I’ve gotten serious with have known I’m on the pill. I don’t know what they thought are in those little magic pills, but I’ll pretty sure they had no idea what it was doing to my body.

  3. Holly says:

    This made me curious as to what exactly the side effect is that was troubling your friend. It’s scary that so many people who are taking types of medication such as birth control are misinformed. I also agree with the fact that it sucks having to worry alone about a array of things being a woman. It’s difficult to express concern to other women, much less men- even if you are dating them. Good points.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Thanks Holly,
      I think that most of us are raised to think of this stuff as an inappropriate topic for conversation. Heck, most of us don’t even talk to our doctors about our concerns. BIZARRE.

  4. Peggy says:

    I always thought it would be weird to have my guy involved with the birth control thing, but talking about it with him was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
    I can’t say it’s been one of our favorite subjects, but it’s a big relief to be able to talk about this with someone. It’s always been so weird with my girlfriends.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Hearing that makes me think that I’ve got to put it on my to-do list. The next time I’m in a decent relationship (assuming there is a next time) I’m going to bring it up.

  5. I am constantly disappointed by the kinds of things that people don’t discuss with their partners and friends, and I’m clueless as to why. We all go through the same stuff! And for that rare stuff that you’re going through all on your own, you probably don’t have to. Sharing really is caring.

    • Simone Grant says:

      Yep. But I get it. I just grew up a little defective and questioned everything I’ve ever been told about everything. So the whole, “don’t talk about certain things” doesn’t effect me, LOL. But I can see why other people feel weird about these topics.

      It would be SO MUCH BETTER for everyone if people could just share more, though…

  6. Dazediva says:

    Sharing really is caring. As you’ve rightly pointed out, many of us women don’t talk about the things that worry them for whatever reason it may be. I’ve found that by discussing the pill with a partner has made things easier in a relationship especially when we all have hormonal imbalances that can cause unexpected delays .. if you’re gonna be taking on that much stress, your partner should know about it so that they can help you through it however they can

    I have been guilty in the past for not talking about certain things – which caused for ME to be unhappy – no one else – why ? because no one else knew about it ..

    We’re living in the new ages – it shouldn’t be so difficult for us to just open up and talk about things we normally wouldn’t talk about

    Great post as usual Simone .. :)

    • Simone Grant says:

      Thanks darling. As you know (living in one of the fastest changing places on earth) change is hard for some people. Heck, change is hard for most people.

  7. CJ says:

    You didn’t mention her name or other descriptors; I’m really curious as to her side effects! I first went on the Pill in college, and the first month I had searingly painful heartburn. It was debilitating. I probably lost weight because I could barely eat. I didn’t talk to a single girlfriend about it, and made only brief mention of it to my boyfriend. (“Oh, no, hon, I’m good on the spicy food tonight. I have heartburn.”) I waited it out (because my cramps without the Pill were killing me) and after that first month I was fine.

    I will continue to take birth control, regardless of the side effects, because the effects without them are awful. (Horrible cramps, moodiness, acne, etc.) I’m using Nuva Ring now, and feel pretty good about it.

    • Simone Grant says:

      I’m glad you’re feeling better and found something that works well for you. Like I said in my post, I’ve been through several different prescriptions, and my various doctors have had to switch me around because of different side effects with each (nausea, breakthrough bleeding that lasted all month long, chronic yeast infections…). My friend’s side effect was something she was really not comfortable talking about, so I would never write about it.

  8. I guess that I’m really lucky in that I have open lines of communication with a lot of people. I know a bunch of my friends are on the pill. I know one is on Nuva Ring. Recently, my period was not coming, and I was able to ask a friend if she’d ever had a few days after when it should come (not sexually active right now, so I knew it wasn’t that). Even my best guy friend knows I’m on it, and when we were on a road trip, and it was time to take my pill, he actually popped it out of the pack and gave it to me while I was driving!

  9. Lynsey says:

    I came off the pill in 2006 and had a iud fitted at my Doctors.

    One of the main reasons i came off the pill was because my family have had in the past have suffered from high blood pressure and my auntie carol has said many times she blames the side effects taking over from planning birth control.
    You do not mention why your friend was worried.


  10. Madelyn Cox says:

    i usually stick to natural birth control methods because i am a christian, natural birth control has no side effects too.,;*

  11. Aplus says:

    Bein there done that, I hear you sister. But it is very important to open up to your partner, especially when it comes to something personal about that, after all he is involved in the situation, you might even be surprised at his answer.

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