Many Millennials, Zillennials and Gen Z-ers won’t know what it was like to first access the pill in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But now we can claim a first of our own. As of 2021, we will be the first generation who are able to get the contraceptive pill over the pharmacy counter and online without a prescription.
Despite the fact that no other medicine in history has been so iconic that it has become known simply as ‘The Pill’, it hasn’t always been so straightforward for people to access. That’s where Hana comes in. You don’t need a doctor’s appointment to access Hana, you just need to answer some questions for a pharmacist to assess that this medicine is suitable for you.
To celebrate the launch of Hana, a progestogen-only pill available to buy without a prescription, we are looking back over the history of the contraceptive pill and speaking to people who were there. We’re up to the final chapter in the series, join us to look back over the last decade from 2010 to the present day!
A Decade of Protest: Girls Just Want To Have Fun(damental Rights)
Time to throw out your low-rise bootcut jeans and shimmy into a pair of high-waisted skinnies! Get rid of your tweezers too, we are praying to the facial hair gods to forgive us for our over plucking sins of the nineties and noughties because bushy brows are back big time. We don’t watch TV anymore, we stream and we spend more time typing on our smartphones than talking IRL.
As our attention spans got shorter, our patience did too. The 20-Teens, like most adolescents, stomped onto the scene and demanded change.
Change was driven by women, the LGBTQIA+ community, people of colour, and other marginalised people taking on the male, pale and stale status quo. With the internet providing more opportunities to connect, educate and organise, there has been a huge surge in activism.
This decade saw some huge political moments for gender equality and reproductive rights. In 2017 women, trans and non-binary people (and allies!) marched on the White House in the biggest day of protest in United States history. In the same year, the #MeToo and Times Up movements exposed widespread sexual violence and unmasked some of the powerful perpetrators who tried to hide behind closed doors. After historic campaigns across Ireland, the 8th Amendment was repealed in 2019, giving Irish women legal access to abortions (52 years after England, Scotland and Wales).
In popular culture, representations of female sexuality became a lot more progressive. The film Easy A came out in 2010 and was a breath of fresh air for teen movies. Rumours go around high school that Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) has lost her virginity (Shock! Horror! Teenagers having sex!), Olive refuses to be shamed and instead charges guys to pretend they’ve slept together and therefore raise their street cred. It’s not perfect, but it highlights the inequality between boys and girls, how hard it can be to come out at school and depicts sex positive parenting.
Meanwhile, musicians like Beyonce, Lizzo and Cardi B set examples of women owning their sexuality. Whether your feminism is more ‘Who Run The World (Girls)’ or ‘WAP’, both are examples of a woman making waves in a typically male-dominated industry. Others got it wrong, and were rightly #cancelled. Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ was released in 2013 and was panned for being a misogynistic anthem. Student unions across the U.K. banned the song from appearing on playlists.
Today, people have a wider set of contraceptive choices than ever before, and even more ways of accessing them. By the year 2010, the contraceptive pill had been around for almost 50 years.
Our sister brand ellaOne, the most effective morning after pill*, became available to buy in the U.K. without prescription in 2015. In 2018 ellaOne launched the #MyMorningAfter campaign to smash the stigma around emergency contraception, and hundreds of people shared their #MyMorningAfter stories.
Their experiences show that too many people still feel judged for enjoying their sex life and making a responsible contraceptive choice. If there’s anything we’ve learned from ellaOne’s campaign, and Hana’s History Of The Pill series, it is that historically contraception has been subject to moral judgement.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear from women in 2021 who feel confident and empowered by their contraception. Chanelle, 22, told us: “I have never felt shame or embarrassment about the pill, it’s such a common topic of discussion.”
Because the pill is more frequently discussed amongst friends, colleagues or even online and with more educational resources available online, people feel they have more choice over the contraception they use and more access to information.
Chanelle tried a few different pills before she found one that worked well for her: “The first pill I tried gave me really bad migraines, so I tried a few different pills before I found the right one for me. I’ve been on this pill for about 4 years now and I’ve had no issues. I am happy with this pill. It can take time to find one that works for you, but there are so many options out there – you are bound to find something that works for you!”
Another woman we spoke to, Natasha, 26, had a specific set of medical circumstances that meant the progestogen-only pill was suitable for her. She says: “I spoke to my GP who asked about my family history. I explained that my mum had an oestrogen positive form of breast cancer, which meant that the combined pill would not be appropriate for me, and I was prescribed a progestogen only pill containing desogestrel.”
Natasha continues: “I’ve now been on my pill for 6 years and I really like it. Overall the minor drawbacks (for me: spotting and some hormone fluctuations) are far outweighed by the benefits.”
The Future Of The Pill
It’s taken 60 years for society to become comfortable with the idea that women and people with uteruses should be free to go out and have (safe) sex with multiple people, fall in love with them OR never call them again, travel the world, have a top career – basically do whatever they want to, without worrying about an unplanned pregnancy.
We’ve come a long way since women in the 1970s wore fake wedding rings when asking for their pill prescription. While those who were born in the ‘80s and ‘90s may not have known some of the hardships of those who told us their experiences of accessing contraception in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there are still plenty of areas where people today are pushing for wider access. Being able to access the contraceptive pill over the counter without a prescription, is an important step in that direction.
We’ve learned about the history of the pill, so here’s the future.
At Hana, we believe that modern contraception means a pill that is more convenient to access. Hana is available from a pharmacy near you, or online from HanaDirect. All you need to do is have a consultation with a pharmacist to see if Hana is right for you.
You can even subscribe to Hana Direct, so you’ll be reminded when your pill supply is running low and get sent a prompt to confirm your next order if Hana is still suitable for you.
If you want to find out more about Hana, check out this page.