Working Women & The Pill

I wish I could remember her name, because I really would like to thank the doctor I went to in high school who put me on the pill.

I suffered terribly from debilitating cramps every time I got my period. I don’t mean I was a little uncomfortable or cranky. I mean I had to take 800 mg of naproxen sodium four to six times a day, then lie down on the tile floor of the closest available bathroom to try to cope with the crazy hot flashes I got. For 5 or 6 days in a row.

And that’s not the half of it.

I eventually started missing classes on a regular basis, so finally brought it up with the doctor. She recommended I go on the pill. She brought up the bonus side effect, pregnancy prevention, but frankly, that wasn’t an issue. The issue was getting me off the bathroom floor and back in class.

I’ll never forget what she said to me:

You know, missing class isn’t, in the scheme of things, all that bad. I’m sure you don’t mind some of the time, even though I know you don’t feel terribly well when you do have to miss it.

But some day, you’re going to be a working woman. And working women can’t just take off from work 2 or 3 days each month. We need to fix this so you can be successful once you start working. We can’t have you losing a job because you’re home in bed with cramps.

She was right. The pill fixed me right up.

With all the hoopla about the pill’s 50th anniversary, everybody has been talking about how our sexual mores were impacted, and how it sparked the women’s movement. But I bet the pill’s ability to cure extreme dysmenorrhea did just as much to advance women’s equality in the workplace as giving women more control over their fertility did.

I, for one, would like to thank the pill for that.

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