50 Shades of Birth Control

SPOILER ALERT: For those of you who are either in the middle of the 50 Shades series, or plan to read it, finish up those procrastination-enabling page-turners and then come back to this post later. And for anyone who is scratching his or her head saying “50 Shades of Grey? What is that, a paint swatch?”—we suggest you Google it immediately or risk staying forever outside the “mommy porn” zeitgeist.

Now that that’s squared away, we want to talk about the many birth-control-related issues that haunt the pages of this bestselling series.

The Mini-pill

This is the birth control method that our heroine Ana ends up using. The mini-pill, also called the progestin-only pill, is a method of oral contraception that does not include estrogen like combination pill packs. We were happy to read that Ana did in fact use some kind of birth control, and we’re even happier to see that she knew to take it at the same time every day. Though, on the down side, it was the sensual Mr. Grey who actually made her aware of this instruction.

At Beforeplay, we believe in the importance of information. When you begin a birth control method, make sure you have all the facts and understand how to use it correctly. After all, it’s up to you—not your partner—to make the right choices for your body.

Giving It a Depo Shot

When Ana breaks things off with Christian, she stops taking her daily pill. Fair enough. Who wants to take a pill every day when they’re in post-breakup mode with no intention or desire to have sex? But alas, Ana is back in the saddle much sooner than anticipated and Christian doesn’t care for condoms (don’t even get us started on this). What to do…what to do?

Now Ana decides to switch over to the Depo shot. It makes sense—with this method she only has to get a shot every twelve weeks (three months) versus taking a pill every day. What we find odd is that Ana is years away from wanting kids, so why not go for an even more hands-off method like an implant or IUD? These types of methods are highly effective and forgettable for years at a time.

The Myths

Now that we’ve talked through some of our Beforeplay beefs with this book series, we wanted to take a quick look at some of the never-going-to-happens that the author so dedicatedly includes in the story.

  1. Ana realizes she is late for her shot when her doctor runs her down on the street. Uhm…no. While your doctors and nurses care deeply about you and your health, it is highly doubtful that any of them would or could be this intimately familiar you’re your needs.
  2. Ana’s assistant ends up shouldering the blame for making Ana late for her shot. No, no, no, no, no. Birth control is your responsibility, not your assistant, partner or doctor’s.
  3. When Ana’s pregnancy test comes out positive, her doctor shrugs and basically says that sometimes the shot runs out early. Wrong. The Depo shot is 99% effective when used correctly, so yes, there is a very small percentage of women who may still become pregnant during use. But the effectiveness of the shot does not simply “run out.”
  4. While there is certainly a relationship hiccup when Ana tells Christian about the unintended pregnancy, everything still ends up “perfect” and they live happily ever after. Not that we would have preferred a different ending to the story, but this is rarely what happens with an unintended pregnancy. Babies are an enormous responsibility with heavy emotional, physical and financial consequences. That’s why it is so important to plan ahead and make sure you’re really ready before getting pregnant. (Curious if you’re up to the baby challenge? Take our Are You Ready? quiz to find out.)

So that’s the long and short of the 50 Shades of Grey though the birth control lens. In the end, while we certainly enjoyed the books, we wish that authors like E.L. James and other creators of popular media would recognize the misinformation that they are spreading. These people have incredible, undeniable influence over vast populations, so it would be great to use that power to spread accurate messages that promote realistic, healthy choices.