The downsides of oral contraceptives are well documented. But one of the more unexpected and secondary effects of taking the pill is that fish are ingesting our birth control. That's right. Fish. Because what goes in must come out, and your birth control apparently sticks around long after being digested.
According to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey, your oral contraceptives ("the Pill") are being ingested, but not discarded. After it leaves your body, your toilet, and your home, it enters the sewers and dumps out into larger bodies of water, where it swims its way into the bellies of the aquatic ecosystem. Not the most idyllic mental image, but certainly one that should give us some pause.
Our discarded birth control is, according to the report, causing reduced fertility and gender switching in fish — fish that we may consume again in one form or another. But herein lies the most ominous fact, as pointed out by the Daily Beast's Kent Sepkowitz:
Half of America is on cholesterol-lowering agents it seems, and the other half is on antidepressants. Are we drinking remnants of others’ medications as well, thereby medicating ourselves — perhaps for the better—unwittingly and untraceably?
Inevitably the answer is “yes.”
I broke up with my birth control about a year ago for the first time in nearly a decade, mostly because it trapped me in a quasi-prison of my own emotions that became unmanageable (despite its many benefits for which I started it, such as its ability to mitigate migraines, excruciating menstrual cramps, and of course, unplanned pregnancy). I am a human woman who couldn’t cope with the effects of low-dose hormone therapy — I can't begin to imagine its effects on creature a fraction of my size.
So what’s the resolution to this bizarre dystopia of cyclical self-medicating? For that, my friends, I haven’t an answer. Though one solution — and certainly the one I myself will be pursuing — might be the hormone-free IUD. Cut ‘em where you can, I guess.
Images: marine0014/Fotolia, Giphy