Get Well

Birth Control: More Than Contraception

by Hannah Amini

In the past couple of weeks, the topic of abortion has been the forefront of everyone’s minds. A new state is trending on Twitter everyday. First it was Ohio, then Georgia, and now Alabama, which caused the biggest uproar due to the passing of an almost complete ban, even in cases of rape and incest, unless the mother’s life is in direct danger. Politicians, activists, and celebrities have been weighing in with everything from memes about the 25 white, cisgender men who somehow got control of reproductive rights to heartfelt accounts of personal experiences with abortion.

History shows that banning abortions will not stop them. In 1996, Romania outlawed abortion in an attempt to boost population rates. The results were devastating, leaving tens of thousands of women dead from back-alley abortions and hundreds of thousands of children in abusive and filthy orphanages. On the other hand, the Netherlands, a country with very liberal abortion laws, has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world. They have managed to do this by offering comprehensive sex-ed in schools and free contraception.

The only way to effectively prevent pregnancy, besides abstinence, is with some form of contraception. If a state like Alabama wants to completely outlaw abortion, it would only make sense to make contraception widely available, right?

Wrong. Ohio, who recently passed a “heartbeat” ban similar to Georgia’s, took it a step further by introducing legislation that could affect birth control, which is now being described as “non-therapeutic abortion.” If passed, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to cover the costs of contraception.

Over a million women use birth control for non-contraceptive purposes, including irregular periods, anemia, endometriosis, and acne. One of these conditions is PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women with increased levels of male hormones. Symptoms include acne, hair growth, and irregular periods. We talked to one of our readers about her experience with using birth control to treat her PCOS.

“My life before getting treated for PCOS was kind of a nightmare when it came to my self-confidence. I saw all the other girls that were blossoming into really feminine looking people with almost no acne or facial hair and it left me insecure about my femininity. I tried everything: my mom would bleach my face so the hair wouldn’t be as prevalent, I used every acne treatment under the sun, and I was always waxing my face to make sure it was smooth and soft. Being taller than most girls didn’t help my case of wanting to feel more feminine. My self-esteem was at an all-time low. I’d always make sure to have sometime of makeup on before I left the house and would not be seen dead without it.

Life after beginning birth control has been SO good! My acne finally started clearing up and I felt 10000% more confident in my own skin. I’ve been starting to leave the house with no makeup on and it feels so freeing! I can go to school with no makeup on and not constantly think about who I was going to run into! I didn’t think such a reality existed. The facial hair I’d been having was starting to become so much more manageable.

I don’t know what I would do if my insurance no longer covered birth control. I’m a student and my dad has been helping out with my expenses. Paying out-of-pocket for birth control on top of therapy, appointments, necessities, and my animals would be unneeded stress in our lives.”

It’s also important to remember that, although birth control is used for a multitude of conditions, it’s completely valid to use it for contraception alone. For those who use it for a condition but are also sexually active, the protection from an unwanted pregnancy is an added bonus. We talked to another reader who appreciated this duality.

“I started sprouting pimples very prematurely, unfortunately. In about the third grade, I started developing black heads and pimples. Between then and my sophomore year of high school, I saw approximately six dermatologists, and literally nothing they did came to fruition. Though I wasn’t the only one with pimples, suffering with them for so long started to take a serious effect on my confidence and I was always in a perpetual state of trying to hide my face. After numerous perception topical creams, oral medicine, and dermatologist recommended facial washes, I was at my wits end. My final skin related appointment was actually at my general practitioner when she suggested birth control. Having attended Catholic school, I knew nothing about it but was ready to try it all. One pack in, and my skin was turning around. To this day, I am on the exact same pill and have not had the same persistent acne since then. Do I still have spots? Absolutely. Are they finally manageable? Yes.

For me, though, birth control serves a dual purpose. While I initially was introduced to it for my skin, I use it as a form of contraception to this day. My boyfriend and I have been together for four years now, and though we have plans to get married and have kids one day, it’s not in the plan now or in the near future. I love kids and I’ve had baby fever for at least two years straight now, but I know I do not want to bring a child into this world until I can fully provide for them and myself (and truthfully, I’m barely able to get my own shit together at the moment!) Thankfully, because I’ve been on the pill so consistently, I’ve never had a legitimate pregnancy scare and likely never will (knock on wood).

Birth control has not only helped give me the confidence I craved, but it gives me serious peace of mind knowing I can have a normal sexual relationship without having to worry.”

Removing insurance coverage of birth control would affect millions of people. No, it’s not a concrete ban. But it would make contraception unavailable to people who don’t have the extra funds to pay out-of-pocket. Denying accessible forms of contraception, in the midst of attempts to ban abortion, is a problem on its own. But, it would also pull those with conditions unrelated to this matter into this giant abortion mess that’s plaguing our country.

Feature Image via Victoria Morris

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