Navigating Birth Control Options and Sexual Health: A Conversation We Need to Have

May 23, 2024
Contraception Effectiveness

It’s time to break the silence surrounding birth control. Let’s empower young people with accurate information, encourage open dialogue, and ensure that access remains a priority. No one should navigate this crucial aspect of their health alone.

Accessing birth control options has evolved significantly, with mail order and over-the-counter methods now available. However, mere availability doesn’t guarantee that young people understand how to access these options or that they will remain accessible. Many adults shy away from discussing this topic, often pointing to resources and hoping their children will figure it out on their own.

Growing up, my parents prioritized my safety and ensured we had open conversations about birth control and sexual health. On the day I was born, my mom leaned in and whispered, “Welcome to the world, Little Alexis. No unwanted babies, no diseases.” This became our family motto, a reminder of the importance of informed choices.

We discussed various birth control methods, including hormonal contraception, "the pill,” and condoms. My moms, who were lesbians, even joked about the missed business opportunity of getting into the condom manufacturing business when condoms emerged as the primary form of disease control during the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. 

In middle school, our sex education section was led by a male teacher. When a student raised her hand and asked if getting her period hurt, he focused on cramps. But I sensed that she wanted to know if bleeding for four days hurt like a gash on the leg or a paper cut. After class, I assured her that the actual bleeding didn’t hurt, but there could be other pains that varied from person to person.

Planned Parenthood visited my high school class, and older students performed a skit. I distinctly remember thinking, “Why am I not part of this?” (My inner diva emerged early.) The content felt like old news to me—I considered myself an authority on the subject, worthy of a starring role!

At fifteen, I had a boyfriend, but I knew he wasn’t the one I wanted to share my first time with. Eventually, I ended that relationship, hoping to meet someone who truly captured my heart. When I turned sixteen, I got my driver’s license and a car. During the following summer I was in a musical and fell for the guy who played my romantic interest. 

Meanwhile, a few of my girlfriends expressed readiness for sex, yet when I asked about their birth control plans, they seemed unprepared. So, I took three different girlfriends to Planned Parenthood to get birth control prescriptions before I took myself. Planned Parenthood accepted insurance, but you could also opt for free services if you preferred not to involve your parents.

After college, I dated a man who hindered my personal growth for upwards of seven years. Determined to prevent other women from following a similar path, I founded The Confidence Society. I continue to guide young women toward informed choices, safety planning, self-discovery, emotional regulation, and independence skills.

While birth control is crucial for sexually active individuals, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Condoms and sexually transmitted disease and infection testing are equally vital for maintaining sexual health. Keep in mind that some birth control methods, including the pill, may take up to 30 days to become effective and have no effect on sexual transmitted diseases or infections. 

How to access birth control:

  • “The Pill” is now available on amazon and at most of your local pharmacy’s over the counter. 
    •  See IG @drjenniferlincoln for information, local law updates, and accessibility news.
  • Prescription are required from a doctor to get fitted for vaginal devices, shots, implants, or other oral contraceptives.  
  • Condoms are available online and at most convenience stores.

The internet has become a ripe resource for answers to questions adults don’t want to answer, but sometimes you need a space to talk out scenarios, problem solve, and safety plan. Parents don’t want to talk to their kids about risky behavior because if they bring it up it means it will happen. Sometimes kids just have questions or they want to know how to be safe. I advocate for safety planning. If you’re going to take risks, and try things, make a plan to be safe. What are your limits? What are you comfortable with? Will you use protection? Who will you talk to if things don’t go well? 

Stayed tuned for the next post on Safety Planning and follow on social for more stories. 

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