The first birth control pill was approved by the FDA in 1960, so you’d think that almost 60 years later, it wouldn’t be controversial. But amazingly, there are still Americans who feel some kind of way about women taking control of their reproduction, and some of these nosy, judgmental people aren’t afraid to offer their opinions where they aren’t wanted.
It might sound like something out of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but unfortunately some women in 2019 America are actually shamed, or worse, for trying to access this basic healthcare need. Here are five true stories of women who faced obstacles in their quest for birth control, sexual freedom, and control over their own bodies.
“Sadly, my own brother shamed me when I started on birth control. When he was in college, he took this class that had a really unbelievable professor. He told everyone that birth control actually works like an abortion pill. My brother, being the innocent and naive boy that he is, totally believed all the nonsense this guy was spouting. When he found out I started on birth control, he told me I should stop taking it because it was giving me a monthly abortion.
Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Birth control pills work by preventing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus so sperm can’t get into the uterus.
So even if you do somehow ovulate and have that egg get fertilized, the thick mucus stops that egg from implanting. I guess that is what his professor thinks is an abortion? Either way, that hurt coming from my brother.” — Jessica
“When I was a teenager, my main pediatrician was a male doctor. He was my mom’s friend. To help me be more comfortable, they had a lady doctor go through the ‘personal’ questions with me when I went for a visit. I was curious about starting birth control, and she judged me hard when I brought it up. I was 18. I always remember her saying that I ‘shouldn’t give myself away like that. It should be special.’
Eventually, I was able to get an IUD. When I asked my regular male doctor about it, he couldn’t care less.” —Lauren
Middle School Slander
“I was around 12 or 13 when I first started birth control, I can’t remember the exact age. But I do know that I started on the pill because I suffered from terrible cramps and the worst acne ever. Not that it matters, but I was as far from having sex as possible. I didn’t even think about holding hands or kissing someone!
I didn’t think going on birth control was a big deal, so I told my best friend at the time. Big mistake. She told some other people, who told some other people, and after a couple of days, I was suddenly the biggest slut in middle school because I was on birth control at such a young age.” —Coco
Students Who Should Know Better
“Believe it or not, I was birth control shamed in front of my entire college class. The class is full of soon-to-be nurses, and they all agreed that it was ‘gross’ and ‘disgusting’ that I used a diaphragm instead of the pill.” — Sam
“I went with my younger cousin to get her first Depo-Provera shot. While we were there, another lady was at her pregnancy checkup. She must have been eavesdropping when the nurse said that the shot was almost ready because she went a bit crazy when she realized my 20-something cousin was the one getting birth control.
I found this quite rude, so I told her not-so-politely to shut up. It was my cousin’s choice to decide what to do with her body, and her choice was to not accidentally have a child. The woman countered by saying children were the only thing that mattered, but I again told her to shut it.
By this point, my cousin was red as a tomato and crouching down as far as she could go. However, when we finally left, she thanked me for standing up for her.” — Lilli
So, what can we take away from this? There are many reasons why women take birth control, and many reasons why they don’t. Regardless, it’s never OK to shame anyone for what they choose to do with their own body.
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