I never had to argue with my mother about birth control in high school. I suppose it was either because I was not very sexually active at the time or because I was a male and thus if I were to consume birth control, it would have likely turned my intestines into magma.
Therefore, the rather passionate arguments my mother and younger sister had on the subject was quite the vivid experience for me. My sister wanted to use birth control as a means to help alleviate her menstrual cramps and migraines, which I have been told feel like swallowing a forest of thorns. My mother was afraid of birth-control’s side-effects, particularly nausea and the risk for cardiovascular disease, and refused to let my sister buy it before the age of eighteen. Again, due to the presence of the XY chromosome in my DNA, I found it best to stay out of the conversation at the time. Wasn’t really much I could say besides “stock up when you can before Paul Ryan makes it harder to get.”
I decided to do some research on the effects of non-pregnancy based birth control and found that my sister was right; it was a pretty good deal for women. Again, using birth control could be beneficial for me as an experiment for college credit though I questioned whether testosterone damage was worth getting an “A” for a 1-credit class.
Nevertheless, I found that birth control helped stop menstrual migraines, due to the medication stopping hormonal ups and downs. Birth control helps ease dysmenorrhea, or painful menstrual cramps, by impelling the uterus to make less of the chemical that triggers it. Other benefits include the easing of endometriosis, or heavy painful periods, as well as lowering the risk of ovarian cancer by at least 50 percent. In fact, a study found that for every five years that someone takes birth control, the risk of uterine cancer is reduced by almost twenty-five percent. There were side-effects such as potential weight gain, increase in blood pressure, and benign liver tumors, and thus the benefits/risks of non-pregnancy birth control usage ought to be weighed on an individual basis.
I ultimately ended up encouraging my sister to use birth control so long as she did her own research on the subject. Menstruation with its cramps and migraines is more foreign to me than the Japanese language since I’ve watched “Seven Samurai” more times than I’ve researched women’s health. I’m trying to do better however, since there is a political battle gearing up between Congress and supporters of Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of women’s health care in the United States.
It is thus imperative that more of us educate ourselves on the science of women’s health and contraception, so that we can fight to ensure that the government does not restrict access to them. All we truly ask for is that birth control and feminine hygiene products are treated the same way Viagra is; tax-dollar funded.
(featured image flickr-Gwyndion M. Williams)