By Nikki Seymour, 26
There is, and always seems to be, a lot of media focus on birth control. The media wrings its hands on everything ranging from whether employers should pay for their employees’ birth control all the way to studies correlating birth control use and depression. Most of this dialogue is confusing at best, and damaging at worst. The decision for a young woman to go on birth control is a big one. It is a decision that should be patient-centered and well-informed, made with knowledge of birth control’s benefits and its risks.
Of course, there are many reasons why birth control is a hot issue. It allows women to take control of their bodies—their reproductive and menstrual cycles. Birth control is also connected to perceived sexual activity. All of this is true: birth control is designed to prevent pregnancy, after all. Ultimately, however, birth control is designed to regulate women’s periods.
No one likes to talk about periods, but discussing birth control use forces us to talk about periods. This discussion is so important because it enables women to understand their bodies better and to know why at least some women decide to go on the pill. Here’s why I am on the pill. No, it’s no one’s business, but it’s all about me and my period.
I got my period when I was almost 11. This is probably classified in the “Yup, you are young” phase on the spectrum of when girls begin menstruating. I went on the pill after seven years (so, let’s say about 80 menstrual cycles) when I was 18. I decided to try birth control when my menstrual cramps would wake me up in the middle of the night in high school. I had several occasions of vomiting due to the pain. Another reason for going on the pill was my severe acne.
The important thing to think about is that everyone reacts differently to the pill. My eight-year journey on the pill hasn’t been pretty. I gained weight. One of the brands I started on caused spotting in between cycles. I felt that I had more mood swings than I used to pre-BCP.
But overall, I am happy that I went on the pill when I did. There were certainly a fair amount of not-so-pretty side effects, but less severe periods, clearer skin, and ultimately control over my reproduction greatly outweighed the other things.
And—not to humble brag—let’s continue talking about periods through Young Women Rising’s #projectperiod.