Before modern birth control was available, women relied on many different prevention methods to avoid pregnancy, such as withdrawal (better known as the pull-out method). Unfortunately, none of these were as reliable as birth control is today. While birth control is a wonderful invention for women everywhere, accessibility is still an issue. According to Power to Decide, "More than 19 million U.S. women in need do not have reasonable access in their county to a public clinic that offers the full range of contraceptive methods in their counties." And sometimes if they do have access to these services, contraceptives are way too expensive to even be considered as an option. To remind others how important birth control is and what it allows women to accomplish, I decided to interview six college women about their choice of birth control and what it means to them.
1. Morgan Larson, St. John's College
When Morgan and I spoke, she told me that she is currently on Depo-Provera. I asked her why she chose this method, and she said, "I had debilitating cramps, and irregular and frequent periods that were not controlled by other methods. I was on the verge of failing in school because despite good grades, I had terrible attendance. Now I've finished my degree and I'm working, when I could never even hold a summer job before I was on birth control." It was clear to me that birth control changed Morgan's life for the better. When I asked where she thought she would be without birth control, she said, "I wouldn't have a degree, but I'd still have debt, and I'd have trouble holding a job. It scares me to think of what my life would be like if I hadn't had access to birth control." Often, birth control is not only used to prevent pregnancy, but to help relieve unpleasant and debilitating symptoms.
2. Sarah Kircher, Notre Dame
Sarah's choice of birth control is the Nuvaring. She is no newbie to the birth control world as she has been using it for over ten years. She said, "I chose it for the convenience of not having to think about birth control every day. I travel a lot for work, and I like not having to track precise time to take the pill." The pill does tend to lose effectiveness because women may forget to take it. When we started to talk about accessibility to these options, she said, "Being able to having access to birth control allowed me to plan my life around my biggest goal: moving to the United States. I was able to focus 100% on getting a good college degree and build a career. Today, I am starting a new challenge and going back to school while working full time. It’s important for me to have control over my body as work and school are increasingly hectic. I know that when I am ready to have a family, I will be able to give my children the best life I can." Not only has birth control allowed Sarah achieve her goals, it also has allowed her to take control of when she wants to conceive.
3. Juliet Burgess, Mount Royal University
Juliet's choice of birth control is the Mirena IUD. She chose to switch from the pill to the IUD because of the side effects she experienced over the years she spent trying to get used to it. She told me that, "Birth Control is the best thing ever, honestly. I could not live a full and happy life without it. Bringing a child into the world is a massive decision that should be carefully considered and willfully brought on as much as possible." I learned from Juliet that one of the main reasons why she uses birth control is to avoid getting pregnant: she has decided to be child-free. She said, "I did not have a great childhood, I have poor genetics, and I believe that not having a child of my own is the best plan for my partner and I. I am a social worker and have gone back to university as a mature student, which I could never have been able to do if I had a child. Birth control means choice; it's freedom and respect for my body and whole self." Accessibility to birth control allows women to have freedom of choice. Without this option, Juliet would have much more trouble avoiding pregnancy and following her life plan without children. It also gives her the opportunity to focus on her career, which is very important to her.
4. Elizabeth Ellard, Florida State University
Similar to Juliet, Elizabeth's choice of birth control is also the Mirena IUD. When she first got the IUD in the beginning of college, she explained that preventing pregnancy was not her main issue. She told me that she needed a way to regulate her period which was all over the place. She said, "My cycles would be extremely heavy and anywhere from seven to eleven days long." Without any other effective remedy, she decided to get on birth control, and her pain soon ended. She also told me that, "As I've moved on in my adult life, I really love the permanency and high degree of confidence in the effectiveness I can have with the IUD with little to no maintenance." Now, the most important part of having an IUD for Elizabeth is the long-term coverage that it gives her. Additionally, she expressed that it makes her feel confident in her reproductive health and the ability to have control over her life choices.
5. Kaci Cawlfield, Langston University
Like a lot of women, Kaci decided to choose Depo-Provera because it is much easier than trying to remember to take a pill everyday. However, that isn't Kaci's only reason for her choice. She told me that her birth control method is very effective which makes her feel secure. She said, "Before Depo, I had rough periods every month. Now that I started Depo, I no longer have a period at all which is very convenient for me, and allows me to accomplish much more." Many people don't realize that birth control helps with more than just pregnancy prevention. Periods can be very painful for many and birth control helps to alleviate those symptoms. Kaci also said, "My birth control has allowed me to continue going to school without having to worry about getting pregnant and having to consider what my next steps are. Having access to birth control has been instrumental in my success as a 4.0 honor student at my university and being able to continue the work I want to do." There seems to be a pattern here-- birth control is crucial in helping women get an education and follow their dreams.
6. Daisy M., Glendale Community College
Daisy's choice of birth control is known as Nexplanon or the implant. The reason behind this is that Daisy had limited choices of methods. Because of her uterine fibroids, she was unable to get an IUD. She is also very sensitive to hormones, so Nexplanon was the best option for her. Not only has it helped alleviate some of the painful symptoms from the fibroids. Another issue that had to be considered in this process was Daisy's PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). After having her implant placed, the symptoms from her PCOS also improved. Not only has this birth control method helped her medically, but like most women, it allows her complete control over her sex life and reproductive health. She told me that, "Being able to have access to birth control through Planned Parenthood is priceless because it meant that I am in control over my own sexual health. The services offered by Planned Parenthood and other clinics allowed me to have it implanted and removed when I needed it to be (for surgery) at my own leisure." Because of Nexplanon, Daisy no longer has to worry about being protected.
After speaking with these six women, I learned that every birth control method is truly unique in what it can do for a person actively seeking to prevent pregnancy. Not only does it effectively prevent pregnancy when used correctly, it also gives women the chance to be sexually free and plan their lives accordingly. According to Planned Parenthood, the benefits and advantages of just the birth control pill range from prevention of acne, bone thinning, cysts in the breasts or ovaries, endometrial and ovarian cancers, to eliminating cramps and making cycles lighter and easier to handle. Considering that, just imagine what all of the other forms of birth control can also help women to accomplish.
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