How we think about birth control at Clue
We sometimes get questions on Instagram or Twitter about why or how we write about a certain method of birth control. People ask why we would give space to a hormonal birth control method that they themselves had a bad experience with. I thought it’d be useful to explain our thinking.
(If you're new here: we're Clue, a menstrual cycle tracking app and online resource about menstrual and reproductive health.)
This is almost too obvious for us to mention, but we believe birth control is a basic human right. It not only allows people to choose whether and when they'll have children—it helps balance a world where women are expected to delay or stop pursuing their goals to care for their families. Also, many forms of birth control help treat disorders that cause significant suffering.
But many people have suffered serious side effects from hormonal birth control. Some of these stories are harrowing.
Our founder, Ida Tin, did not have a good experience with hormonal birth control. Her investigation into understanding women’s health led to years of research, and ultimately led to the creation of the Clue app in 2013. The professional careers of many people who work here actually started with personal struggles to find the right birth control.
At Clue, we believe that people deserve better options. People need birth control that works for their individual bodies, life stages, economic situations, and goals. They also deserve honest, high-quality information about birth control, and a safe place to share their experiences.
The truth is that the current system that researches, develops, and markets hormonal birth control is not adequate. Generally, menstrual and reproductive health is still under-researched and under-prioritized. Some birth control options arrive on the market with insufficient testing, or testing only for the needs of women in wealthy North American or European countries. You’ll see the words “more research is needed” very often in our birth control articles.
We mean it—we need it. We need more research, and we need more birth control options.
While birth control research has flaws, facts are important—especially at a time when misinformation about health travels far and wide online. Many health resources online for women and people with cycles have chosen an anecdotal or "natural" approach, positioning themselves as a replacement for the existing medical establishment.
We believe in an evidence-based framework for providing information about birth control. This means that when we publish info about a certain pill or IUD, we dig deeply into the available scientific research, fact-check it, and share what we learn.
But scientific research is not the only source of truth for knowing whether a method will work for you. Personal experiences of birth control are also important. Stories have often been the starting point for change, exposing trends that drive research and changes to policies and products. (Tracking your symptoms can be helpful when communicating about your experience.)
So you might read in one of our articles that the research doesn’t reflect your personal experience of a certain pill, or IUD, or implant. But your experience is still valid.
Which is why we want to provide a safe space to share personal experiences of birth control—so that anyone whose experiences that aren’t represented or heard can be acknowledged, validated, and listened to. Personal stories will drive forward the demand for better, safer birth control options.
Here are a few collections of your personal experiences of birth control:
- Personal experiences of the hormonal IUD
- Personal experiences of the birth control implant
- Personal experiences of the copper IUD
- Why lesbians use birth control
- Why trans men, nonbinary, and genderqueer people use birth control
We look forward to sharing even more.
Choosing a birth control method is serious stuff—it can change the whole path of your life. We want to help at every step along the way, giving you the information and context you need to make the best decision for you.