Birth control in the less-than-informed world

Savanna Hennig

I’m not sure about you guys, but back in middle school, all the somewhat laughable sex education course covered was four things: puberty, genitals, menstruation (for the ladies of course, which were in a separate room from the gents,) and abstinence.

Enlightening, right? We as young grade-schoolers, could take on being biologically adult at that very moment.

“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die. Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up, just don’t do it, OK, promise? OK, now everybody take some rubbers,” Mean Girls character Coach Carr said.

And yes, while it is funny and incredibly quotable, it often hits too close to home for the state of sexual education today. There was no coverage of birth control or how it works, which arguably is the most important part to know about for young women and men.

My knowledge of my birth control options when I was 18 was limited to condoms and a vague idea of what the pill did. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue beyond what middle school taught me all the way up to being the grand age of 21.

I’m sure this is also the case for thousands of women younger and older today, which honestly, is horrifying.
This year, my knowledge broadened and I dove into the suddenly bigger world of modern contraceptives.

Basically, it started when my older sister nosed her way into my personal life, messaging me on Facebook several questions about my less-than-week-old relationship, including gems like, “How do you say his last name?” and  “Are you gonna get on bc?”

My brain, less than informed on what “bc” meant, quickly caught up to the practical thought of getting on regular birth control. With all the sex education of a condom-wielding, “abstinence is the only way” middle-schooler, I dove into the internet.

I was looking for information on the standard birth control options available for women today, expecting to find the best pill to regularly take or a step-by-step of how to use a condom.

But my once-naive self found a list of different birth control methods that women and men use, ranging from the classic male condom to hormonal patches to literal devices that get inserted into the female body. Where was all this information when we were learning about sex, or even just being female? Why is none of this regularly talked about? This is important health information that women need to know about, especially if they’re having sex or thinking about becoming sexually active.

I was a combination of intrigued that all this stuff existed, and frustrated that it’s not really commonplace for women (or men) to know about standard birth control options.

Sure, condoms are still an important method, and birth control pills are usually talked about, but those are small pieces of the whole list available today.

I have two nieces and the eldest one is almost a teenager. I’m pretty certain that when she learns about sex and her sexual health, birth control isn’t going to be talked about, unless it’s a vague discussion on condoms.

Fast forward three months, and I was sitting in the office of Marquette’s local Planned Parenthood (shout-out to all you lovely people there) for my appointment to get the Nexplanon implant inserted into my arm.

I had done all the research to determine that it was the best option for me, and at a prior appointment, discussed my health and got approval from a doctor.

Today, I currently have a matchstick-sized rod in my upper arm that’s 99.95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, which is incredible.

So ladies, sexually active or thinking about becoming sexually active, know about all of your options.

I’m definitely not bashing abstinence or condoms, and I firmly believe that everyone should take their own path with their own sexual health.

But, be informed about the path you take. If you choose to take a form of birth control, know about all of your choices and their side-effects, then pick the one you know will be right for you.
The internet is full of information, I recommend Bedsider.org or Plannedparenthood.org, and then you definitely have local, easy-to-access resources here in Marquette.