Birth control is defined as the intentional practice of preventing unwanted pregnancies typically by use of contraception. The history of birth control is tough but beautiful and diverse. Thousands of methods, ranging from inserting crocodile dung into the vagina to tying raccoon testicles to the body, have been created and implemented by women from as early as 1500 BC in ancient Egypt to modern-day America. Due to the rampant normalcy of global patriarchal institutions, women have fought long and hard for their right to control their own bodies. Even today the war against women’s bodily freedom exists. According to time.com, 65% of women in the developing world still don’t have access or the right to birth control. Even in the U.S. not all women’s health needs are treated equally. Though it seems that this country grants healthcare to all, what we tend to see is that women of lower socio-economic backgrounds (particularly women of color) fall between the cracks of the healthcare system. They often have little to no access to women’s clinics that cater to vaginal health, sex education, STD and STI preventative care, contraception and abortions. This lack has lead to disproportiantely higher rates of sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancies and general misinformation to spread among America’s abandoned, purposely misguided groups.
I first learned about birth control as a high school freshman. No, not from a sex-ed teacher’s words of wisdom (I went to a Catholic school who advocated against it), or after an awkward yet necessary conversation with my parents (they were too busy trying to deny that I was active), it wasn’t even from any of the sex books in my school library. My first introduction to a condom was when I watched my first love open one with his teeth and put it on. When I was a teenager, my understanding of birth control was limited to porn (which doesn’t say much) and my interactions with lovers come and gone, because I was raised in a society that sexualizes everything from food to fashion, but does a poor job in preparing the youth for the act itself. A lot of us were forced to teach ourselves due to the ignorance of the adults around us who’d rather desexualize us than properly teach us. I didn’t really learn that there were different types of birth control with individual side effects and methods of use until I got pregnant last year and was forced by my circumstances to meet with a family planning counselor at a local Planned Parenthood and nothing was the same.
I always knew that “pulling out” wasn’t 100% secure, but because I was ignorant and never had a problem with it before, I figured I was ok. After the shock of a lifetime, I realized that it was time to take control of my fertility so that I would never have to deal with the darkness and weight of an abortion again. When I got the Mirena IUD, I was told that it was an intrauterine device that works for up to 5 years by releasing hormones into the body that both prevent pregnancy and eventually stop one’s menstrual cycle. I was elated! Though a part of me wondered how something so small has so much power over the body, my ignorance got the best of me and I brushed it off thinking about all the amazing raw sex I was going to be having without fear of having another “accident.” In retrospect, I didn’t understand how important my menstrual cycle was to my body’s stability, I didn’t care to either. I only taught myself enough about birth control to meet my carnal needs and discounted my spiritual ones completely.
In the first few months I felt nothing, my body was operating normally so I went on assuming the Mirena was a success. After a few months, though, I started to feel different. I became easily angered, I gained a few pounds and my libido was low, dead almost. See, I was warned that there would be side effects but that I would be ok after my body got accustomed to the hormones. What I wasn’t warned about was that I would suffer from unbearable back pain (that would make me cry from its sharpness), I would be depressed and bipolar for days at a time AND that if the IUD shifted during any rough play, it could puncture an ovary and I would have to get a hysterectomy, leaving me unable to bear children for life. They informed me of all the convenient side effects but I had to find out about the inconvenient ones through life’s experiences. Once I started putting the dots together, I realized the IUD was the culprit and I was going to remove it by any means necessary. When I tried to schedule an appointment for removal, I was told it was $200 and not covered by most insurance policies including my own, what the fuck is THAT about? So I used my google skills and found countless stories of women who’ve also had terrible experiences with their IUD’s and how they self-removed at home. I was inspired! So on a random Wednesday I filled my tub with warm water, loosened my cervix by giving myself an orgasm (shoutout to pornhub), found the IUD strings and removed it myself. Let me be clear, I may have stated that simply but it was no simple task, my friends. It took a few minutes to find the strings and to get a good enough grasp so that they were secure enough to pull on… But I did it and I SWEAR TO THE UNIVERSE that as soon as it left my body, my back pain was immediately gone and shortly after my period came back, my sex drive was revamped and I felt like myself again.
Even after all that bullshit I went through with the Mirena IUD, though, I still chose later on to use yet ANOTHER IUD (the Paragard) to prevent pregnancy because my fear of an unwanted child greatly outweighed my desire to live a more holistic lifestyle, but hay at least I’m honest. This is what freedom of choice is all about. Allowing people to make their own decisions and walk their own paths, no matter how we personally feel about it. Good news is I’m all natural now, but it took a little more struggle to reach this decision.
… Stay tuned for part of two of my three-part birth control series, where I’ll talk about self-removing my Paragard IUD, why I’ve ultimately decided to go natural with my birth control from here on out, the methods I’ve researched and the one I’ve chosen to use.