Birth control: a miraculous invention for 1953. All the sexual freedom you could ever want boiled down into a little daily pill. Fast forward, past a history of Supreme Court rulings, forced sterilization and restrictions, we now have a wide variety of birth control available with a single doctor’s appointment. But at what cost? Are we truly sexually liberated?
Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. It was just like any other ordinary day as a Gen Z person, witnessing major historical events and political unrest. I live in New York state so this isn’t an immediate threat to me, personally. But if I’ve learned anything in my 19 years of life, it’s that my liberties are never guaranteed and anything can change with a blink of an eye, or in this case, a potential Republican senator or congressperson.
So, like most other women in America, I got a little nervous and like most other women in America, I knew how hard it was to get a gynecologist appointment. So I headed over to my local Planned Parenthood.
If you’re interested in birth control, every doctor ever will tell you to get the IUD, the easy way out. It goes in and you don’t have to worry about it for the next five years. They’ll tell you insertion will be “slightly uncomfortable.” Wrong. No matter how small the IUD is, absolutely nothing is supposed to go up your cervix. It’s an extremely invasive procedure and everyone I know who has one says it was the most painful experience of their life.
So anyway, I was in Planned Parenthood being persuaded to get an IUD and as you can imagine, I said no. I talked to the doctor, asked a million questions and finally decided to go with the patch, Xulane, to be specific. Basically, you put this little patch on your body and the hormones seep through your skin. My favorite thing about the patch was that it was zero dollars and zero cents (with insurance).
I was told that I could wear one every week of the month and that “it was okay if I lost my period.” That was the other great thing about it because I don’t like paying for tampons.
I’d just like to preface this by saying I’m not an idiot. I knew that birth control has side effects. I talked to my friends that were on it and I did my research. In fact, every pack of birth control you get has a little piece of paper folded up inside with information in tiny letters. When you unfold it, it’s a couple feet long. These are the side effects.
I wore my patch every week. It was simple. Well, the actual application that is, but everything else was not so smooth. I started to wake up sad and go to bed angry. My energy and motivation were always low. I was overthinking everything and I overreacted to minor inconveniences. A night that I didn’t cry myself to sleep was a rare one. I knew I couldn’t afford to be ten times more depressed than I was “au naturale.”
But this wasn’t exactly why I stopped taking birth control. My patch, the thing that was supposed to stop my period, actually made menstruation harsher and longer. So much for not buying tampons. But the last straw for me was a second gynecologist appointment where I was told that my little Xulane patch, the one I was wearing every week, was going to give me fatal blood clots in my brain, my legs or my lungs. The type of blood clots that could cause a stroke or a heart attack. Basically, the thing that I was using to prevent pregnancy, which was not a guarantee, could also kill me.
Although death is unlikely, birth control can also increase the risk for cervical cancer, liver tumors and high blood pressure.
So what are the other options to prevent pregnancy? Of course there are condoms and spermicide and Plan B for whoopsies. After that, there’s abortion, and if you dont have access to that, then you are forced to give birth.
Did you know that forced pregnancy is labeled as a crime against humanity by the United Nations? Poor mental health and forced pregnancy are intertwined. Women have a 20-22% greater chance of experiencing maternal depression with an unwanted pregnancy and they also have a greater chance of using drugs and alcohol during their pregnancy. This creates greater odds of the child having behavioral issues.
In other words, no matter if we choose to take birth control or choose to risk pregnancy, we are depressed either way.
Scientists have been working on a hormonal male birth control but have switched to developing a non hormonal option after they found it could cause weight gain and depression. Sounds a little familiar to me. It’s just frustrating that research only seems to care about the well-being of men.
Am I “anti-birth control?” Absolutely not. I understand very well that some people don’t experience side effects from birth control, and I also understand that the idea of being pregnant or giving birth outweighs the side effects of birth control. Some people are on it because of extremely painful period cramps or terrible cases of acne. At the end of the day, it should be a choice. No one should feel pressured to disrupt their natural hormonal balance simply because of our political climate.
Biologists created birth control as a way for women to have power over their own bodies and to make decisions to prevent pregnancy. But now it seems like birth control has just been taken advantage of by the guys who are “allergic to latex.”
My friends sometimes look at me like I’m crazy when I say I’m not on birth control as if it’s my responsibility and my responsibility only to compensate for uncertain political times.
I simply just refuse to accept the status quo. Why should we as menstruators have to put our bodies through hell just for men to have that little moment of pleasure?
I understand the privilege that I have in order to say this, but I will not give in to the standard that was set by male biologists or by known eugenicist Margaret Sanger. In the words of model Samirah Raheem in a viral video “my body is not a political playground.” I refuse to let that status quo win.