August 5, 2021

40 years of the pill that allowed women to live freely their sexuality

40 years of the pill that allowed women to live freely their sexuality

It was at the beginning of October 40 years ago that Spain took the step of legalizing the contraceptive use of the pill, which allowed women to freely exercise their sexuality and separate it from reproduction, even though it was "demonized" from different sectors and still Today continues to arouse some misgivings.

The modification, in October 1978, of article 416 of the Penal Code, which prohibited the prescription, sale and publicity of any contraceptive method represented a "very important step in the liberation of society's sexuality", according to Efe experts. contraception and gynecology.

1978 was a "tremendous year of great changes in the democratic process of Spain" due to the number of events that occurred, among which the legalization of the pill "was not a minor" because it allowed for "effective and legally recognized separation" the right to the pleasure of reproduction.

This is recalled by the spokesman of the Spanish Society of Contraception (SEC), Modesto Rey Novoa, who, however, explains that in that year, some eight million women already took the pill, which was prescribed under the argument of different ailments gynecological

"It was the way to access it through this subterfuge, in which case it was prescribed as a treatment for an ailment because it was a first level therapeutic weapon to deal with menstrual disorders such as menstrual pain or the amount of bleeding," Rey Novoa emphasizes.

Under this excuse, women "greatly increased their menstrual disorders in this period," jokes the SEC spokesman.

Also the gynecologist of the Endometriosis Unit of the University Hospital of La Paz (Madrid), Ana López, considers that the legalization of "this reliable and safe method" allowed "to freely exercise sexuality separately from reproduction", thereby "Motherhood became a decision" and not something that "comes in the life of a woman".

The legalization of the use of hormonal contraceptives in Spain was not without controversy and from various political and ideological sectors "led by the Church", the pill was, in the opinion of Rey Novoa, "tremendously demonized."

"But even from the field of science and medicine, deeply biased, sex hormones have been tremendously demonized by side effects," the SEC spokesman abounds, noting that no medication is risk-free but the benefits of pill are "incontestable".

The gynecologist in La Paz regrets that there are many "false beliefs" about hormonal contraceptives, as they are "very strong", with serious side effects, that generate sterility, that get fat or that are carcinogenic since the side effects have been minimized.

In fact, the first pills contained up to 10 times more estrogen (150 micrograms) than some of those available today (15 micrograms), which was associated with an increased risk of venous thrombosis.

"By the time the contraceptive pill arrived in Spain, the dose of estrogen had dropped to 50 micrograms," explains López.

In addition, the other component of the pill, the gestagen, contributed to the side effects of the drug but the emergence of new progestins has caused them to be reduced, making the hormonal contraceptive "a safer and more comfortable tool".

Rey Novoa admits that the risks "have not been brought to zero" but if a correct contraceptive advice is made, valuing the individual risk factors that a woman may have, they have "minimized a lot".

The "confrontation of ideas" around the contraceptive pill ended up paying the woman because, according to Rey Novoa, they received information that generated "a lot of confusion and false beliefs", which still persist today.

In fact, in the data of the last National Survey of Contraception, Spanish women prefer condoms as a contraceptive method (30%), ahead of the pill, which is chosen by 17%, a figure well below the countries of our environment.

To improve these data, Rey Novoa, among other things, is committed to "training, education and training" of health professionals, from gynecologists to primary care doctors, nurses and midwives so that women receive real and proper information.


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