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Birth Control in My Community

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October 14, 2020

By: Anna Beth Peters

My personal experience with the birth control pill has been a roller coaster; I originally started taking the pill in high school to regulate my period. I have tried a few different options, and I have had incredibly varying results. I have struggled with mood changes, depression, hormonal acne breakouts, cramps, and difficulty getting my prescription from pharmacies. Despite all of the issues I have encountered with birth control, taking the pill greatly enhances my life by regulating my period and giving a sense of normalcy to my cycle.

People take the pill for many different reasons; some take it for period regulation, some take it to lessen cramps, acne, or the chance of infection, and some people take it solely to prevent pregnancy. No matter why anyone chooses to get on birth control, their reasoning and decision are completely valid. I talked to several of my friends about their personal experiences with birth control, and I want to share some of their personal testimonies below.

When asked about their personal experience with different types of contraception, here are the responses given.

Anna, she/her, 21: “I think it’s so important to have a sense of security in knowing that, while I make my own decisions as an adult and understand what is involved, I can be safe and comfortable knowing that I am taking steps to prevent pregnancy that would most definitely be unexpected… birth control pills have helped me manage periods since high school.”

Anonymous, she/her, 22: “Oral contraceptives take a huge toll on the body in many ways, but are very helpful to so many people, including me, who deal with extreme menstrual issues.”

Cassie, she/her, 22: “I started taking the pill when I was 19 and got an IUD when I was 21. I didn’t like stressing out about forgetting a pill, having to take it consistently for it to work, and I didn’t like putting that many hormones in my body. The copper IUD has been a godsend. I also struggled to get my prescriptions filled because the number of refills would frequently be incorrect in my CVS app, and I hated that I had to get an exam annually to get a prescription. For a while, I tried using delivery apps like Nurx, but at the time they didn’t offer delivery in Alabama. I didn’t feel comfortable seeing an OBGYN in Alabama because of my fears that a conservative doctor would judge me for needing birth control.”

Kelsey, she/her, 21: “I started taking birth control at the age of 16. I had to test out 4 different birth controls until I was able to find one that completely worked for me. One birth control I had taken threw me into a major state of depression. I also had a birth control that did not allow me to keep any type of food down; I would literally throw up everything I ate. Birth control has not only helped with my hormonal mood swings, but it has helped me to not experience major clotting. Without birth control, I probably would have already had to have had surgery to fix my clotting issue. After finally finding the birth control that works for me, I can happily say that I feel healthier and happier than I ever did prior to taking birth control.”

Phoenix, she/her, 21: “I had the Kyleena IUD put in 4 years ago. Since I am uninsured, it was close to $1,000 and mounted my medical debt from a very early age. Additionally, I have experienced chronic pelvic pain ever since the insertion, and despite multiple (and costly) visits, doctors have never provided an explanation or remedy for this pain. The IUD is too expensive for me to waste, so I am simply waiting for my five years of efficacy to run out so that I can switch to a different kind of contraceptive in the future.”

Izzy, she/her, 21: “I was on the pill for less than a year in college, and I got off of it when I realized how badly it was messing with my body (worse/longer periods, hormones out of whack). After I finally got over the stigma hurdle and had the “I want to go on birth control” talk with my mom, we had to go to someone who would prescribe it for me. The specific of oral contraceptive that I finally ended up with was like our third choice, because insurance didn’t cover birth control for my family, and the recommended options were too expensive. I did not have a good experience with birth control, and lucky for me I don’t have a need for it at this time in my life, but I wish I didn’t have to sacrifice so much of my well-being (unknowingly, I might add) for something that doesn’t need to be so restricted.”

Anonymous, she/her, 21: “I have on and off taken oral birth control since I was 17. I first started taking it as a secondary form of birth control in order to take Accutane. I didn’t use it for long, as I wasn’t very good at remembering to take it then. I started taking oral birth control again when I was 19, in order to regulate my period, and when I was 20, I continued to take it for that, as well as for preventing pregnancy. I briefly stopped taking it this past summer, and now am back on the pill to regulate my period, help with acne, as well as prevent pregnancy. Going through my doctor, it was always very difficult to get refills, as they would not automatically refill my prescription. I now use the Nurx site which I have found to be much easier, as they do provide automatic refills that are sent to your address (which avoids any awkward pharmacy encounters) and has been very cost-effective.”

When asked about what accessible birth control means to them, these are some of the responses that were shared.

Anonymous, she/her, 21: “Free access to contraceptives for all.”

Anonymous, she/her, 22: “Free and covered resources for people with uteruses to make autonomous decisions about when and how and if they choose to have children.”

Anonymous, she/her, 21: “Free and educational birth control access.”

Cassie, she/her, 22: “To me, accessible birth control means that a variety of types of birth control are available to anyone who wants it, for free or at a low cost, and that birth control can be obtained easily, without parental consent or knowledge, and without judgment from doctors and pharmacists. For birth control to truly be accessible the stigmas associated with sex, sexuality, and reproductive autonomy have to be broken. Everybody with a uterus has to be able to access birth control in order for it to truly be considered accessible.”

Izzy, she/her, 21: “Accessible birth control means free for everyone who wants it for ANY reason. Accessible birth control means different types depending on preference and needs (the pill, IUD, vasectomy, etc.).”

Katelin, she/her, 21: “Free/low-cost birth control methods for all genders, as well as comprehensive sex education throughout schooling. For people with vaginas, the pill and other forms of hormonal control should be easy to get and free with or without insurance.”

Anonymous, she/her, 21: It means that a person will be able to easily get birth control that is affordable and comes from a safe place. Birth control should be accessed easily because it is one of the easiest ways to prevent pregnancy as well as regulate hormones and other things in a person’s body.

After hearing these personal testimonies and strong feelings about the need for better access, it is clearer than ever that free birth control is necessary for those that need it. In my community and across the world, there are so many individuals who need access to a pill that can make their life much easier. People should not have to navigate barriers to get the reproductive care they need, and that is why we HAVE to free the damn pill.

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