My Toxic Relationship with Birth Control

| April 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

My relationship with birth control started three years ago. It was the summer before heading off to college. One day, my mom sat me down and told me that it was probably time to start birth control. “Accidents happen, and sometimes you don’t plan as well as you should, this will help keep you safe.” I was shocked to hear this from my mom of all people, as she had only ever been with one guy, my dad, so I always just assumed she expected that I would be the same, as we were similar on so many other fronts. But I gotta give her props, she’s a high school teacher and she gets it, we’re not all as sexually conservative as she chose to be, and ultimately, she just wanted me to be safe. So we scheduled an appointment with her gynecologist.

At the time, I knew little to nothing about birth control. A couple of my friends were on it, but most of them used it for other reasons than preventing pregnancy. Some used it for acne control, and others for regulating their period. I didn’t have horrible skin, but like any teenager, I had my battles with embarrassing breakouts. My period was regularly irregular, which I was told was perfectly natural. I wasn’t upset to have the wait time between periods last 3-5 months, it just meant less suffering in my eyes, but also, there were times when I wondered if I was creating the next baby Jesus. The unexpected nature of its timing also left me by surprise while I was out and about without a tampon more times than I was comfortable with. So, in my eyes, birth control seemed like the be-all end-all solution to so many issues that puberty had handed me.

My gynecologist said nothing to make me believe differently. I walked in, said I wanted birth control, and was immediately given a prescription—no questions asked, no warnings given. Well, I take that back, I was given a warning, but it had nothing to do with birth control. I was told a warning tale on how my gynecologist found out that her husband was cheating on her by contracting an STD. She followed this story up with this sage advice on how to avoid being cheated on: “get a man by both his heads, and you will always have his heart.” Which she clarified meant that I should learn how to give a killer blowjob in order to keep a man faithful. My mom was sitting right next to me. (It’s safe to say I never went back.)

I walked out of that office with three months worth of birth control, and felt ready for college and new experiences. I set my alarm for 9 AM the next morning and popped my first pill, and thus began my journey with birth control. What I didn’t realize, was all of the baggage I was carrying along with the wallet-sized silver packaging, or what these tiny pills were really going to be doing to me.

Perhaps the reason it took me three years to even contemplate that my birth control may be hurting me, is that it perfectly timed with me going off to college. I wrote off the weight gain as being a part of the Freshman 15 and my exposure to endless pizza and burgers in the dining hall, the spike in my insomnia issues to a new bed and environment, and the degradation of my mental health to moving a thousand miles away from everyone I had ever known and the added pressures of college. Had I known the possible side effects of birth control, maybe I would have thought twice about popping those little pills at 9 AM every morning.

Now, nearly three years later, I have done a lot more of independent research, talked with more people, and read more articles about the side effects of birth control. I have been dismayed at all that birth control can do to you. I have listened to horror story after horror story from friends and family. So why am I scheduling an appointment for an IUD anyways?

The reality is, I am in a happy, committed relationship, and live a sexually active life, and I simply don’t have the time or the financial stability to risk having a kid right now. I am 21 years old, with my whole life ahead of me, and big plans for the near future, plans that require my full attention. I want kids one day, but that day is not today. I want that experience to be at a time that I can comfortably support the (many, MANY) expenses that come with creating and raising a child in a happy, healthy environment. Because I want to enjoy the experience, not have it be an unexpected surprise that causes me stress and deters my life plans.

Birth control has made my mental health reach some of its lowest points and has caused fluctuating weight change that has made me (more) self-conscious and given me some pretty warped body image issues. My periods now come more frequently, and with much more vengeance than ever before.

But it also gives me the ease of mind that I need in order to live a sexually active life with my partner without worrying that a condom is the only thing standing in the way between me and the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy. It’s the toxic relationship that I can’t seem to get out of.

Choosing your birth control is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Pills? NuvaRing? IUD? They each come with their risks and side effects, so pick your poison.


photo credit: starbooze The Pill via photopin (license)

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Category: Reflections, Science and Technology, The (Sex)es

Virginia Roa

About the Author ()

Salty and brown. Mildly afraid of butterflies. Lover of fashion, books, and the power of words.

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