In recent years, American society has seen great upheavals in social change, challenging norms that have been around for decades. Times are changing as new generations enter the scene and take America into the next definition of a “modern society.” From Supreme Court decisions to the latest technological advancements, the world is changing quickly, and America is no exception.
Change can be good, but it can also mean people more easily take things for granted. Think about Gen Xers who didn’t get to go to swing dances, or Millennials who’ve never had to wait on dial-up internet to IM their friends after school. It’s easy to forget things were harder not too long ago, but one thing that continues to struggle alongside modern progress is women’s access to safe and affordable birth control.
Since its invention, medical birth control has had to overcome constant obstacles and misinformation to become commonplace for women. Not only is the history of birth control fraught with ethical and medical horror stories, but women still have to fight to keep it accessible today. There are different challenges for each type of birth control, and deciding what kind to use comes down to what each woman is looking for.
The Current Fight
Some doctors and drug companies have tried to make extra money over the years by abusing the system, and birth control is no exception. In 2009, the drug company Bayer became a well-known example of this. The FDA had to issue an alert that Bayer knowingly sold Mirena, a defective product, while not warning women about the dangerous side effects of the IUD. Some side effects included device migration, expulsion, increased risk of breast cancer, and increased pressure in the skull. These actions resulted in numerous Mirena lawsuits making their way into courts.
70,000 women have experienced severe side effects from the Mirena IUD.
Generally, IUDs and all other forms of contraceptives are safe to use. Normal side effects of IUDS are usually limited to hormone levels adjusting to the new usage for up to the first three months. After that, menstrual periods are regulated and minimized, and pregnancy is regularly prevented. Still, nearly 70,000 women have experienced more severe Mirena side effects.
Some doctors are dishonest when it comes to women’s health as well. Between 2008 and 2012, female patients of Dr. Paul Singh of Central California unknowingly received non-government-approved IUDs. Afterward, the doctor’s office would bill women’s insurance companies for FDA-approved devices to make extra money. This is known as pharmaceutical fraud, and it’s a serious offense. Although the justice system works to amend loses in these cases as much as possible, there is no price tag that can be put on the danger this sort of ploy poses for women’s health.
Pros and Cons
Ultimately, women have to choose what kind of birth control is right for them, which means they not only have to recognize challenges they might face in the doctor’s office, but also what form is right for their bodies and even their personality types. There are many different kinds of birth control to pick from, so women need to know all the facts about as many as they can before heading to their doctor.
The pill has been around since the 1960s and is a very common way for many women to get on birth control. It provides a daily dose of estrogen and progestin (the “minipill” has progestin only), which prevents the egg from releasing, thickens cervical mucus to inhibit sperm movement, and thins the lining of the uterus to prevent attachment.
Like the pill, the patch delivers a steady stream of estrogen and progestin to prevent egg release and alter the uterine lining and amount of mucus in your cervix.
Birth Control Implants
Implant sticks (Nexplanon) are small rods – about the size of a match – inserted into the upper arm that provide a time-release dose of progestin.
Intrauterine devices are medical devices inserted into the uterus to prevent the attachment of eggs to the uterine wall.
An alternative to condoms worn by males, female condoms are soft plastic pouches inserted in the vagina to create a barrier that prevents sperm from fertilizing any eggs.
Birth Control Shots
The birth control shot (Depo-Provera) is an injection of the hormones estrogen and progestin that works for up to three months at a time.
Stay Informed and Aware
Women need to be aware of the pros and cons of each type of birth control before they talk with their doctor, and then discuss with them further to fully decide what’s right for their body. Women must also be aware of challenges they may face in getting their birth control outside of the medical side effects, because birth control in today’s culture doesn’t come without its challenges.