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#HandsOffMyBC: Why Birth Control Is A Necessity To My Well-being

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

At the end of eighth grade, I was faced with a series of excruciating headaches, that prevented me from going to school, doing my homework, and on some occasions, getting out of bed. I would get these headaches for weeks at a time and nothing would ever stop them, so I went to the doctor and got checked out. That was the day that my life changed forever. That day I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem caused by a hormonal imbalance that leads to problems in the ovaries, including cysts. Some symptoms of PCOS include: an irregular menstrual cycle, hirsutism (having too much hair on parts of the body where men typically grow hair, i.e face, chest, etc.), acne, hair loss, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, darkening of skin, headaches, fatigue, pelvic pain,sleep problems, and infertility.

There is no known cause of PCOS and no cure, however, one thing that can help ease symptoms and allow affected women to lead a more normal life is birth control. So there I was, fourteen years old and in middle school, taking birth control every night before I went to bed.

The birth control worked miracles for me. Before being on the pill, headaches were not the only symptom that I had experienced. I had acne, hirsutism, pelvic pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and weight problems. Taking the pill did not erase my symptoms, and PCOS is still something I struggle with every day, but it did ease my symptoms enough to where I no longer had to miss class because of headaches or cramps, it cleared up my skin enough for me to feel more confident, and overall I just felt better and more balanced as a result of the pill.

For me, birth control has never been a means of preventing an unwanted pregnancy — it has always been a way for me to live a regular life. Since beginning to take the pill six years ago, there have been a few times where I decided that I was well enough to no longer take it, and never once did it end well. One of my most vivid memories of deciding to go off the pill was in my junior year of high school. I had been off the pill for about two months or so, and was already having negative symptoms- including spending my birthday weekend in excruciating pain from a migraine- but I had still not gone back on, because I thought that maybe it would eventually correct itself. I then went to take the SAT for the second time, after receiving a not so optimal score the first time, and in the middle of the exam I began to get the most intense cramps of my life.  I could barely focus on the test and ended up scoring 40 points lower than I did the first time despite studying for weeks on end, all because of this unfortunate medical condition that I am forced to live with.

I eventually went back on the pill and haven’t been off it since, however this may change with the new administration. The newest efforts of the Trump administration include rolling back Barack Obama’s birth control mandates. This means that if Trump gets his way, employers will get to decide whether or not their employees get coverage for birth control based on their moral ideology.

Without health insurance coverage, myself and many other women may not be able to afford this drug that is essential to our well-being. The pill that I am currently on is around $23 a month without insurance, which may not seem like a lot, but as a college student who works three jobs just to pay her way through college and buy groceries, I would not be able to afford the pills if I did not have insurance. Other birth control brands can cost upwards of $50 a month without insurance.

The reason that Trump wants to roll back the birth control mandate is so that employers can adhere to their morals about birth control, but how is it moral to deny women the health care that they need?

Between 8 and 20 percent of reproductive age women worldwide face PCOS. If birth control is no longer covered under insurance, some of those women may have to suffer this disease in silence, with no treatment.

If these affected women are not working on balancing their hormones, not only will they have to suffer with the plethora of painful/embarrassing symptoms that come with PCOS, they are also putting their overall health in danger as well. Women with PCOS, especially when it goes unmanaged, are more prone to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, mood disorders, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer.

If women don’t have access to birth control, it puts them at that much more risk to get one of these serious illnesses. When it comes down to it, women’s access to the pill is not just another form of birth control, it is a lifeline that prevents women from a lifetime of suffering. Preventing women access just to preserve “morals” is morally unintelligent, as this drug positively impacts suffering women every single day.

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Winthrop University is a small, liberal arts college in Rock Hill, SC.