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We all deserve control over our reproductive futures – Trish Hyde

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October 14, 2020

Like many teenagers, in the throes of first love, I wanted to have sex. I was 16 and had been dating my boyfriend for about a year when we decided we just could not wait any longer. Actually, we *could* wait longer and I required that we did because I was incredibly paranoid about the possibility of becoming pregnant. I had done my research (okay, much of it on 2013 Tumblr, but still) and knew that two forms of contraceptives were recommended and that, should I choose to get on “the pill,” I would need to wait one month for it to become effective. So, a plan was hatched. I would talk to my mom, see the doctor, be on the pill for at least one month, and then we could do it. 

For this part of my story to make sense, I think it is important to provide some background about my mom. My mom is a second-wave feminist, vegetarian, who was regularly naked around the house. So yeah, I was not worried about talking to her about sex. I told her that I didn’t know for sure when I would have sex (not entirely true) but that I wanted to be prepared when I decided I was ready. After grilling me briefly to ensure that this was my decision and I was not being pressured into it and did I know that my body was sacred? my mother supported my decision and took me to the doctor to get a prescription. 

It was at the doctor, however, that the trouble began. Since first getting my period at 12, I had experienced very aggressive ovarian cysts, sometimes up to three inches in diameter. These cysts left me in debilitating pain, causing me to miss school, sports, and sleepovers. So, for me, getting on the pill served a purpose beyond just wanting to have sex; there was the possibility that the correct hormone combination could relieve me of excruciating pain. However, only a few brands of oral birth control provided that combination so, much to my surprise when arriving at the pharmacy, they were very expensive. Even with my parent’s insurance, my first three months were going to be $300. I was shocked. Did everyone pay this much to have sex? 

I left the pharmacy empty-handed. However, I was still a teenager very ready to have sex, so I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I went home and began researching alternatives and ultimately found an affordable option. For a while, I took pride in this story and my tenacity in the face of a very confusing healthcare system. Now, though, I feel a little sad when I think about this. I was so young and having to be my own advocate in healthcare. I think about how hard it was for me to find an affordable birth control pill that met my hormonal needs and I had insurance and supportive parents. What about others without insurance or who had to sneak around to receive care? 

Ultimately finding the right pill for me (and at $10 per month) was empowering. I think for those of us who are female presenting, we are often made to feel that our sexuality and bodies do not belong to us. When we are so frequently subject to harassment and unwanted sexual attention, often starting in adolescence, it can feel impossible to be in control. 

For me, being on the pill allowed me to at least, partially, be in control of my reproductive future which made me feel more comfortable claiming my body and my sexuality as mine too, and I am forever grateful. We all deserve that. 

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