Birth control. It’s a scary topic no matter who you are, and whether or not you use it. In recent years, a serious stigma has been perpetuated about the medication and if young female and menstruating people should use it.
But among the topic’s controversy, we often forget that the human race has had a long history with preventing pregnancies. Similarly, governments have been restricting access to birth control, and birth control information just as long ago. In 1873, the Comstock Act passed in the United States, prohibiting advertisements, information, and distribution of birth control; even allowing the postal service to confiscate birth control sold through the mail.
That’s not to say that there was a great deal of pushback - in 1916 early feminist, Margaret Sanger, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States - being sent to jail for 30 days because of her illegal distribution. Later in 1938, involving a cast with Margaret Sanger, a judge lifted the federal ban on birth control, once again providing women with the freedom to control their sexual health. This prompted a shift in ideology known as the ‘sexual revolution’ - where women across the world made birth control apart of their lives. In 1960, the first oral contraceptive pill was developed, and the US Food and Drug Administration approved it.
Fast forward to the 2000s, rapid expansion in availability, and improvements in safety and effectiveness, birth control has become a staple of ‘female sexuality.’ Yet, there is still a great deal of research needed on providing birth control for men, but gradually, barriers to accessing reliable contraception are being repealed.
That being said, despite it’s misleading name, birth control and oral contraceptive methods are not only used to prevent pregnancy. Dysmenorrhea is the medical term used for menstruating people who have painful period pains and cramps that occur prior and during one’s menstrual cycle. The majority of menstruators experience dysmenorrhea, in fact, 90% of young menstruating people have reported the common medical problem. Believe it or not, many use birth control as a solution; in fact, the birth control pill, as well as other hormonal contraceptives can help in the treatment of period pains.
Dysmenorrhea is triggered by the release of natural substances that are made by cells in the inner lining of the uterus that cause the uterine muscles to contract. This helps shed the monthly uterine lining, but can create severe pain for the ‘owner of the uterus.’
As a solution, many menstruating people use hormonal birth control whether or not they are engaging in heterosexual sex, as a mean of controlling their periods. In fact, many birth controls were created with the intention of providing non-contraceptive-related benefits.
Birth control was labeled as such as a means to keep female people from taking control of their bodies, as many people feel shame associated with being sexually active. ‘Birth control’ should be a right, and everyone should be given access to it. This means insurance companies covering hormonal contraception, provding comphrehensive sex-education, and creating safer-spaces where menstruating people feel comfortable using birth control, without fear of being judged.
Disagree? Soundoff in the comments below! I’d love to hear other ideas and perspectives!
Here are some resources for getting access to birth control:
Planned Parenthood: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control
Power to Decide: https://powertodecide.org/what-we-do/access/birth-control-access
Beyond the Pill: https://beyondthepill.ucsf.edu/