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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

Throughout the past couple of years, it has become increasingly common for women to suggest that their sexual partner get a vasectomy. In most heterosexual relationships, women take a form of birth control to help protect their bodies and futures. It is finally being considered that men pitch in to try and keep their female partners safe and content. In the United States, 90% of women from the ages 18 to 64 have used contraception at some point in their life, and doctors are quick to recommend these extremely invasive contraceptives to young women. There is a  large amount of people consuming and encouraging forms of hormonal birth control, but do we truly understand the risks they pose to women? Women put their bodies through the ringer just to have safe sex whereas a man simply puts on a condom. Female partners are expected to endure the lengthy and painful side effects of birth control, not to mention the possibilities of pregnancy, childbirth, and the mentally and physically draining process of an abortion. The woman’s body is always open to the possibility of trauma, and it’s about time men started further contributing to the prevention of their partners’ pain. 

            Although the average age for women to begin taking birth control is age 16, we never know how our bodies will react to the contraceptives. Possible side effects include nausea, breast tenderness or enlargement, headaches, spotting or breakthrough bleeding, missed periods or amenorrhea, weight gain, mood swings or changes, decreased sex drive, vaginal discharge, blurred vision if you use contacts etc. There are more serious side effects as well, some of which are life-threatening. For instance, users may experience blood clots, high blood pressure, liver tumors, increased breast cancer risk and increased cervical cancer risk. While these more permanent side effects are rare, they are still possible for one to experience. Taking a form of birth control can feel like a game of Russian Roulette that most young women begin playing at the age of 16. There must be less harmful ways to practice safe sex. 

            There are not only physical risks but mental precautions when a woman starts birth control as well. Taking certain forms of birth control can lead to estrogen dominance in our bodies. This affects our moods and can make us much more emotional than we normally would be. Birth control affects the way we handle confrontational situations, the way that we perceive ourselves and our well-being, the way that we set boundaries with other people and more. Thousands of women over social media have started to speak up about key points of their personality changing after they stop taking birth control. Influencers Mikhaila Peterson and Dr. Campbell, who has a Bachelor of Science in holistic psychiatry, have both publicly discussed the effects of no longer using female contraceptives. They mentioned having clearer thoughts, feeling less emotionally drained, depressed and more motivated to try new things after no longer being on birth control. Not only does birth control change our bodies, but it changes our perception and self-esteem as well. There must be another way to prevent pregnancy that isn’t so damaging and invasive for women. 

            We all know that if men were deemed responsible for taking oral contraceptives, it would never be expected for them to accept and live with all these side effects. The ignorance of women’s pain is ingrained in our medical systems. We have normalized and minimized women’s suffering when it comes to their health and wellness. As mentioned earlier, the female body is constantly exposed to trauma and pain, but this does not mean that we shouldn’t try to ease this exposure as best as we can. Women deserve to suffer as little as possible, just as all human beings do. Their needs should not be simply shoved to the side as a second thought as they often are. It’s time that men take more responsibility for having safe sex and help end this cycle of invalidation and ignorance that surrounds hormonal birth control.

Hi everyone <3 My name is Emily Murphy and I'm a psychology major here at ODU, but I'm also passionate about activism, politics, and pop culture. I'm excited to be writing about these topics and more as a part of the HER Campus team!