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Letter 11: From Siena


Dear Annie,


When I was 16, I was prescribed the Ocella birth control pill, a generic version

of Yasmin. I can’t believe how much has happened in the past six years; I am

so grateful that I was healthy enough to experience everything that I did. You

were not as lucky. When I was originally prescribed this birth control, my

doctor told me that it could cause blood clots, but that this risk was only                     Siena is second from the right 

significant in women who smoked cigarettes. As I was not a smoker, I took

that to mean that I was not at risk, and continued to take these pills for 4 years.

I stopped using them by choice, not because I was warned of the dangerous side effects (as I should have been).


As I prepare to graduate in a month, I am both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous. After reading your story, I realized how lucky I am to be able to worry about applying to jobs and finding apartments. You were excited about similar things, like finding a job as a lawyer. Just like me, you had so much more life to live. When each of us were prescribed birth control, we were taking care of our bodies so that we could focus on the exciting times to come. However, rather than protecting you, this step took your life. I wonder where you would have been now if your doctors had thought to take you off Yaz.


After reading your story, I can’t help but I wonder who is looking out for us. We turn to doctors to prescribe medications that will improve our quality of life, and doctors rely on randomized control trials and the FDA to determine which medications are safe. But time after time, doctors and the FDA have shown that money carries as much, or even more weight than health. Your story has helped me realize how lucky I am to be healthy, despite taking Ocella, and to have had the opportunity to work to get this message out to girls like us.  I will carry this with me until women no longer have to rely on “luck” to keep them healthy.


Siena Brown

George Washington University, Class of 2017

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