Letter 16: From Alice
Firstly, I would like to thank your family for so bravely sharing your story with
the rest of the world; the power and impact of a story is so much more than
that of a statistic. This was not a quick or easy read where I could brush off
the statistics and resume the routines of my daily life. Instead, my reaction to
Annie’s story was complex, emotional, and left me reflecting about my own interactions with birth control and the healthcare system at my university.
In the midst of dealing with my sadness and frustration in response to Annie’s story I quickly searched Google images to remember which birth controls that I have taken and to see if any of them contained drospirenone. During this search I thought to myself how shocking it was that I couldn’t remember the name of the pill that I took on a daily basis for months, but I did distinctly remember leaving the office of my healthcare provider feeling strange that I hadn’t been given a choice of which birth controls to take nor had I been told the major risks of taking contraception - just the benefits.
Online, the case for birth control seems to take on the same tone as the university healthcare provider that I saw. Websites such as birthcontrol.com may highlight some of the more common disadvantages of birth control such as nausea or breast tenderness, however the possibility of a blood clot is only hinted at despite YAZ and Yasmin being promoted as some of the most commonly prescribed birth controls. It is unacceptable that females are not being fully warned of all of the potential risks that they may encounter when taking contraceptives.
I stopped taking birth control a little less than a year ago because I had noticed that the birth control was negatively impacting my mental and physical health. As I began to take my birth control I felt myself becoming depressed and my physical health deteriorated as well. I am horrified at the thought that my interactions with birth control could have been so much worse, but I am also grateful that it is not my family telling this story.
Healthcare providers need to think more critically about the products that they are prescribing and need to take the time to explain to patients all of the potential outcomes of the contraceptives that they are prescribing. Unfortunately this is not always the case and I am so grateful that your story is available to help females understand that they must be the advocates of their own health and also do the research on what they are prescribed. The sad truth is that we cannot always trust our healthcare providers or healthcare system to have our best interests at heart. I hope that one day this will not be the case.