Hofstra, Let’s Talk About It: Birth Control Experiences

In today’s society, women often feel that they should not talk about sex. This can lead women to feel embarrassed or unsure of themselves when something unexpected happens. Through Hofstra, Let’s Talk About It, you will read real accounts from real college students. We are all going through the same experiences, why not talk about them?

Birth control is awesome. Not only does it help prevent pregnancy, but there are also many health benefits. However, if someone chooses to not use a hormonal method for personal reasons, that is completely fine as well. What’s important is that if you are having sex, you are protecting yourself to the best of your ability and are using at least one method of contraception.

Today, I asked Her Campus Hofstra members: “What is your experience using hormonal birth control and what advice would you give college women who are interested in getting a birth control prescription?”

Courtesy of Giphy

“I am still figuring out which pill is best for me. I started taking it because I get really uncomfortable, heavy periods. Getting the prescription was easy: I went to the doctor and spoke with my gynecologist about my symptoms and she told me different things we could try. Some side effects I’ve had while going through the motions were face rashes, CLEAR skin, and breakthrough bleeding. I’m currently on a pill.”

Advice: I would say try it if you are comfortable with a pill! If not, an IUD is an option too.

  • Bella, Freshman

“I'm not sexually active and have been wanting to go on birth control for a long time to regulate my period, but I have no clue if I can afford it or how to access it while in college.”

  • Laramie, Freshman

Many college students are not sure how to get a birth control prescription while in school. Fortunately Planned Parenthood accepts many insurance plans, allowing students to pay a small co-pay or have the prescription covered through their health insurance.  Planned Parenthood also has a program called the Medicaid Family Planning Benefit Program (FPBP) that provides free birth control for NY State residents. If you would like to learn more about payment options at Planned Parenthood or FPBP, click here.

“I wanted to start as a double layer of protection against getting pregnant. Sometimes the condom can break or other mishaps might happen, and being on the pill makes me feel more prepared. It was super easy to get the prescription! I booked an appointment with student health on campus and they helped set me up with the prescription. I've never experienced any side effects, and I've been on the pill for about a year.”

  • Kaylyn, Sophomore

Courtesy of Giphy

“I don’t use hormonal birth control. When I have sex, I stay safe by using condoms. I have tried to get on birth control, but had difficulties refilling my prescription.”

  • Sara, Senior

“I didn't really have bad acne, but I just wanted to have more of a clear face so that was the main reason I started it. I got the pill because I thought that would help things move along and also protect against pregnancy (even with a condom) while I was sexually active.”

  • Anonymous, Senior

“I needed to get birth control because my periods were always extremely severe and debilitating. I don't feel any different, and I've been using it for about three years now. Sometimes I get more bloated than usual and I definitely gained weight since I started using it, but I'm not sure whether to attribute that to the pill or just getting older and changing my lifestyle (from high school to college).  Now I barely get my period at all and when I do, it's usually pretty mild.”

Advice: Know why you're doing it. For me, it was because my periods were so bad, and while it always protects against pregnancy, it doesn't protect against STDs. It's always better to use another method of contraception alongside birth control.

  • Melanie, Sophomore

Courtesy of Giphy

“I started using birth control when I was 16 and was planning to have sex with my serious boyfriend. I had told him I couldn’t until I got birth control, so I spoke with my doctor, got a prescription, and went on my way. This pill ended up being perfect, as it cleared up my skin, helped me lose a little bit of stubborn baby fat, and eased my periods. Years later, a different doctor switched my pill, which gave me other health complications. Since then, I’ve had to switch brands several times and don’t understand why I can’t just get my original type back!”

Advice: Absolutely go for it! Just be sure to have an honest conversation with your doctor about various methods and side effects of birth control.

  • Ali, Senior

“I first went on the pill when I was 15 for my acne because my acne is ALL related to hormones. I tried 4 different ones before I settled on TriNessa, and I was on that for about three years. I just switched between two different types in the past two months because my acne has been pretty out of control, which caused my cycles to be pretty unpredictable. I also had some tricky weight gain while I was on TriNessa, but besides the acne, that was the only side effect."

  • Madie, Sophomore

“I started using birth control in high school. I experienced very painful period cramps and wanted to take the birth control pill to help with my cramps. The first pill I used was awesome. It helped with my acne, eased my cramps and it made my periods less intense...which is amazing. But I recently had to switch to a cheaper pill because of insurance. The new pill I’m on isn’t as strong so my cramps are painful and my periods are more intense. But I would highly recommend taking the pill if you experience any pain during periods or anything like that."

Advice: DO IT! Birth control is easy, there are multiple options, and it helps with periods and being safe!

  • Emily, Sophomore

Courtesy of Giphy

“I don’t use birth control. I just use condoms and the pull-out method. In all seriousness, I have mixed feelings about birth control. I want to get on it but at the same time, I don’t want to put my body through all those side effects. My parents are super strict and sex is a huge no-no before marriage so I don’t want to put my body through that and risk having to explain to my parents why I’m not feeling well if the side effects of birth control hit me hard.”

  • Anonymous, Sophomore

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding birth control that often scare women away from using it. Here are some common myths about hormonal birth control debunked.

“I started using the pill because that is what all of my friends started using in high school, and I didn't know about many other options. I had to go through 3 different prescriptions until I found one that worked for me though, it took years.”

Advice: Definitely do it. It is better to be safe and not have to worry. Plus you can get it for free with insurance or through Planned Parenthood. And it's really not hard to remember to take the pill if you get into a routine of doing it every morning.

  • Amanda, Junior

Courtesy of Giphy

“I started using the pill because I was diagnosed with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) a little over a year ago. I would get ridiculous symptoms of PMS that lasted for WEEKS where suddenly I was horribly depressed for 2-3 weeks and then I would get my period and it was all better. My gynecologist prescribed me hormonal birth control to try and control my hormones and it’s worked pretty well but I’ve had to try around 3 or 4 different kinds to find one that didn't give me really bad nausea.”

Advice: Do your research, and make sure you have an open dialogue with your doctor. Also, don’t be embarrassed! Almost everyone I know is on it or has been on some form of birth control, and they’re all for different reasons. Any reason is a good reason.

  • Anonymous, Freshman

“I started because I was consistently sexually active and the pill SUCKED. I experienced so many emotions that I never had before and sent me into a weird misconception of loneliness and a huge bout of depression. That made me stop taking it after six months and I never want to go back.”

Advice: Know and understand ALL your options before committing to one. Just because something (like the pill) might be the norm doesn't mean it will work for you.

  • Kim, Senior

Courtesy of Giphy

“I have been on three different types of pills in the last three years. Every pill I tried didn't work since I was having abnormal spotting every month, even after the 'adjustment period'. My mood swings were horrible and I was often uncomfortable and anxious. Earlier this year I almost quit birth control completely but then I read soy milk may mess up your estrogen levels so I stopped drinking it and my spotting/emotional issues resolved. I even had lighter, shorter, less painful periods. However, as my body adjusted, I gained 10-15 pounds within a few months, and now I am uncomfortable again. I am considering switching to natural methods of contraception like daily thermometers that are able to determine when you are and aren't fertile.”

Advice: Definitely try it and be open, patient, and positive. You might have to try a few different methods or brands, but give it a shot. There are so many options, and as long as you listen to your body and you are deciding for yourself, it will all be okay. You have the power to control your own body!

  • Gia, Junior

There are several methods of birth control that do not involve hormones that range on a level of effectiveness. Planned Parenthood created a comprehensive list of all the options you can choose from.

“I use a hormonal IUD. I recently got it inserted when I started having sex with my first boyfriend. The process was fairly easy. It only hurt a little when they put it in (until the speculum slipped out of place) but it was pretty uncomfortable, like a weird version of cramps. They lasted for a few hours and were gone when I woke up from a nap.”

  • Faith, Sophomore

Courtesy of Giphy

**The opinions expressed in the article are by college women based on their own experiences. If you are unsure on whether to start birth control, please speak to a medical professional to learn about the options that you have. Here is the link find the closest Planned Parenthood location in your area.