CV NEWS FEED // Gen Z women are beginning to ditch birth control in favor of more “natural” methods of regulating pregnancy, according to one op-ed from British news website UnHerd.
In the op-ed, journalist and commentator Ella Whelan wrote that millennials generally have no problem with using any form of birth control, regardless of the side effects or consequences.
“We millennials would risk pretty much anything to have carefree sex—even our waistlines. A new generation of women, however, is not so keen,” she wrote. “They aren’t wild about the acne, mood swings, weight gain, heavy bleeding and migraines that are associated with hormonal contraceptives.”
Along with these side effects, hormonal birth control can also increase or worsen depression or suicidal thoughts among women.
All of these factors are leading to a curious phenomenon, according to Whelan.
“[W]hile taking the pill used to be something of a rite of passage, now women are coming off it in droves,” she wrote. “[T]he idea of scientific “meddling” with our bodies and medicalising health is increasingly eschewed by younger generations and nowhere more so than in the already fraught world of women’s reproductive health.
Concrete numbers are not available for the methods of birth control in the U.S. In October 2023, however, the Daily Mail reported that statistics from the U.K.’s National Health System show that the use of natural family planning apps among British women doubled in just 10 years.
According to the report, natural family planning apps like Natural Cycles and Flo were most popular among women aged 25 to 44.
Whelan said that Natural Cycles, an app developed by Swedish scientist Dr. Elina Berglund, has gained attention from celebrities and influencers and only serves to perpetuate the trend towards natural family planning.
“Natural Cycles, the non-hormonal contraceptive method of choice for celebrities and influencers, is now so popular it boasts over two million users and has been cleared by the FDA in America,” she wrote.
“This return to ‘natural’ or non-medical methods of contraceptives and the boom in digital period tracking does point to an interesting shift in discussions about women’s bodies,” Whelan wrote.
Much of what informs the criticism of the pill today is the idea that hormonal contraceptives prevent women from feeling “in touch” with themselves. No longer simply a practical issue of how to overcome a biological hurdle, methods of contraception feed into the idea of a woman’s sense of self.
Whelan added that rejecting birth control can be perceived as a form of feminism, saying that some believe that “the pill isn’t a means to allow women sexual freedom, but a political green flag to allow men to behave like animals.”
This sentiment unknowingly echoes Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humane Vitae, in which he warned about the dangers of using birth control even before it was legalized in America.
“Another effect [of birth control] that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection,” the pope wrote.