Our entire FMF cohort was asked recently if we wanted to write about our experiences as part of the #BirthControlHelpedMe campaign, but I didn’t think I had a story. I don’t have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I don’t have endometriosis. I don’t have heavy, atrocious periods (in reality, before I was put on the pill, everything to 16 year old me was awful). I don’t have any of the medical reasons why a young woman could be taking birth control.
For me, the reasons I began taking birth control pills are purely selfish:
I enjoy having a menstrual cycle that is four days long with little to no side effects. And I enjoy having sex and having the additional protection of oral contraceptives.
When I wanted to be on the pill, my gynecologist wanted a reason, and it had to be a good reason. After all, the birth control pill is doing some wild regulatory things to your body. It’s a change. So, in order to get the pills before I went away to college and simultaneously make my mother disappointed in me forever, I did my research. I told my gyno that I wanted regulated periods because I was gonna be a freshman in college and I needed to focus on the transition (I was pretentious my senior year of high school), I wanted to decrease my chances of ovarian cancer, and I wanted to be protected during sexual intercourse with my partner. See, you had to have a web of things to show that you really thought about it and wanted it more than just having sex without worrying about getting pregnant. I passed the test, was put on Lo Loestrin Fe, and I went away to college pretty happy. (Don’t worry, that happiness decreased exponentially when I got my heart broken, got a tattoo, fought with my parents, and transferred to another college.)
By living in a culture where I need an excuse and a story to be put on birth control, we tell young people that these are things they shouldn’t want and that they’re bad. Like, oral contraception is bad because it can lead to ~sex things~, but you’re good because you’re using it for ~not sex things~. It’s creating that dichotomy of Good women who use it for medical reasons and Bad women who use it for selfish reason.
Get that garbage outta my face.
It is 2015. I don’t wanna be the one to tell you, but Women Like Sex. I think we’ve evolved as a species to the point where we understand that not all sex acts are strictly for procreation. Treading along that radical line of thinking, I’m not going to feel bad about taking birth control strictly for sex things. Trust me, I have enough to feel bad about, being a human woman all the time. I’m not going to feel like my story is less legitimate because I’m not taking the pill for medical reasons. Loving sex is my reason. Being able to have sex with other people and not worry about having a child is my reason. And those are good enough reasons.
So, the next time you ask someone why they’re on the pill and they don’t have a medical reason, just drop it. Actually, don’t ask women that ever. What the hell, dude?
Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your article. As an Ob-Gyn resident physician, I agree – birth control should be more widely available. There is certainly some preventative health benefits. The reason I wanted to reach out is because as a feminist and entrepreneur, I created a new device that just launched on Kickstarter to help women take birth control better.
Love to talk more about it with you and we think it would be a great story.