For many out-of-state students returning home for a short holiday, Thanksgiving is a great time to focus on yourself for a much needed break. Going home for Thanksgiving this year, for me, was the only time I had to balance my sexual health needs with quality family time. So in a leap of faith in myself, I decided to take planning a trip home for the holidays as an opportunity visit a Planned Parenthood to get an IUD inserted.
Coming from a very traditional Indian background, sex, let alone birth control, was never explicitly discussed in our household. As a result, I came into the world of birth control completely ill-informed. As someone who’s also listened to and counseled many female friends from strict Asian backgrounds entering their first “adult” relationships, I’ve come to realize that the stigma around birth control, coupled with constant anxiety surrounding pregnancy scares after having sex are tied together very closely. I myself distinctly remember having a full-blown anxiety attack the first time the condom “slipped” during sex, much to my partner’s despair. A complete dearth of sex education on top of the fear of judgment from family were major contributors to the stress at the time. Though the impact of generational stigma was not something I could fix right away, I realized that even opening up conversations with others around the possible options out there was sometimes enough to mitigate the anxiety and overall feelings of helplessness that I felt during that time.
As I began speaking to more people, from roommates to classmates to even fellow Her Campus members, I realized that the best personal choice for me was what’s often known as the “get it, and forget it” birth control method: the IUD. For those of you who don’t know, an IUD (intra-uterine device) is a tiny T-shaped thing that’s usually inserted into your uterus as a very effective birth control method. Though my relationship with birth control and insurance has had its ups and downs in the past, I decided that the best gift I could give myself towards the end of a year of practicing self-love was some post coital mental peace. So I did the work: I called up insurance, waited an indefinite period of time on hold listening to elevator music, and scheduled a visit to a local Planned Parenthood as soon as I got home for Thanksgiving. Though the physical process was only slightly more painful than the administrative stuff I had to fill out beforehand, I am beyond grateful to the staff at the clinic who helped ease my worries and worked with amazing efficiency.
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for all the support I got from friends and my partner for choosing my own sexual and mental health over the generational stigma I inherited. I’m also thankful to myself for being completely clueless at the beginning but being flexible enough to educate myself on what was best for me. If my story resonated with you, I’d encourage you to do your own research and find out the best ways to accommodate your own sexual health. Our own efforts are often the greatest gift to our sexual empowerment, and it’s something I’ll be thankful for for the next 7 years.