When I was little, my mom used to show me her birth control pills while I sat in the bathroom, watching her get ready for work. They were arranged in a beautiful rainbow pattern, a mysterious circle of medication that we dubbed, “no baby pills.” To me, birth control has always seemed like a rational, normal part of life. Why should my mom have to have another baby if she didn’t want to? She already had three, and we were enough for her.
This early exposure to birth control normalized sexual health and reinforced my belief in reproductive rights for women. Now at 16, I take a low dose form of birth control. Before I started taking it, I was scared to discuss getting it with my mom. Despite thinking I knew what it was, there was still a lot about birth control that I didn’t know. It was exciting and “grown-up,” but it also felt too personal and uncomfortable to talk about. I kicked and kicked myself.
“Why should I be scared to talk about this with my own mom? I haven’t done anything wrong, I just want to protect myself.” This type of thinking is what leads teenagers to skip the birth control option altogether, opting for condoms, or *god forbid* the “pull-out method.” Now with Plan B available in many drugstores, (although the price ranges from $35-60 dollars) many feel as though they don’t even need to be on birth control.
This may be an effective one-time solution, but for most people, dropping $60 isn’t feasible every time they have sex. Shelving birth control in pharmacies would create a long term, cost effective, and accessible way for teens to remain safe, while savoring their privacy.
As human beings, we are constantly trying to protect ourselves. We buy sunscreen before going to the beach. We get vaccinated. We stock up on lip balm in the winter, and use band aids when we get a cut. Why not have our sexual health defended as well?
Especially for women, who are often more vulnerable to sexual assault and harassment than men, as well as backlash and stigmatization. Birth control is a way to feel as though they are guarded and prepared. Sex is a natural part of life, whether you’re a teenager or an adult. Women deserve to feel safe and secure in their everyday lives, not having to worry about an unwanted pregnancy.
If birth control was sold without a prescription in drugstores, women would be more likely to purchase and use birth control. This would also make birth control available to those who may not be able to afford go through a GYN to receive birth control. By making it available over the counter, women could simply walk into a CVS without having to pay an expensive doctor’s bill. If men can buy condoms anywhere, why shouldn’t women be able to buy their own form of birth control? To put it into perspective, Planned Parenthood reports that condoms are theoretically 98% effective. However, In real life, condoms are only about 82% effective. The pill however, is 99% effective (when used correctly). Realistically, they are about 91% effective. Personally, I like the sound of those odds.
The great thing about birth control is that it isn’t only used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It also can be used to regulate periods, balance hormones, treat acne, decrease period cramps, and lower risk of certain cancers.
If it wasn’t for my mom’s openness about sexual health, I probably wouldn’t be on birth control today. I’m lucky in the sense that my family can afford to pay for my prescription, and supports me in taking it. For many women and girls, this just isn’t their reality. Allowing women and girls safe and easy access to birth control seems not only logical, but a necessary action.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS