High school girls look to birth control for medical relief

Kaelyn Rodrigues | Staff Writer

From controlling irregular menstruation to alleviating chronic pain, birth control is not just used as a contraceptive — for some, it’s a necessity.

Senior Nikita Morjaria takes birth control to reduce her anemia, a condition caused by a deficit of red blood cells. She chooses to take non-hormonal birth control, which tends to have fewer side effects than its hormonal counterpart. Although it lessened her pain at first, Morjaria said it has recently become less effective for her.

“I think at first [non-hormonal birth control] was pretty effective, but after a while it stopped working because now I have the same problems again,” Morjaria said. “[Initially] I didn’t want to take hormonal [birth control]  because it has really bad side effects, but now I have to go back to the doctor and see if we can get hormonal [version].”

Birth control can also be used to make menstruation more regular and less painful. Junior Mackenzie Savage began using hormonal birth control due to menstrual pain so intense that in some instances, she could not go to school or work.

“I was having extremely painful periods,” Savage said. “I would not be able to go to school some days and I would be doubled over and could not function. It was insanely painful. I can remember times where I was in tears because it hurt so bad. They were also really irregular. It just became super stressful, irregular, and painful, so I started birth control.”

Savage said not only has birth control greatly reduced her pain, but it has minimized many other symptoms of menstruation as well.

“It’s been super effective,” Savage said. “I take medicine every night anyways, so it’s a really small thing, but it’s affected me a lot — my cramping pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not cranky for like three weeks on end, I’m not having really bad cravings or feeling really sick, and it helped my acne.”

Similarly, senior Shriya Penmetsa began taking birth control pills after enduring years of painful menstrual cramps.

“Starting [my] sophomore year, I got really bad period cramps, to the point where I’ve passed out on my bathroom floor,” Penmetsa said. “I’ve almost passed out in school, and it’s been so awful [that] it’s hindered me from going to school because the pain [was] unbearable.”

After taking birth control pills for just a week, Penmetsa said she already noticed a substantial reduction in her menstrual pain.

“Usually the first day when I get my period is horrendous, that’s usually when I have to skip school in the morning, or I have to suck it up and take excessive ibuprofen,” Penmetsa said.

“But then I started taking it and the pain has definitely been dulled. The first two days I had a few cramps, but the change was tremendous.”

Morjaria said people should not be judged for taking birth control, especially because there are a variety of symptoms and conditions that it alleviates.

“I don’t think there should be a stigma because I think [birth control] is important for health; it’s a health care option,” Morjaria said. “It’s not something that you use strictly for contraception, but you can use it for so many other purposes, so I don’t think that it should be something that’s stigmatized.”

Likewise, Savage said that although there is a stigma around taking birth control, the decision to take it is ultimately up to the individual and should not be influenced by others.

“Everyone assumes if you’re taking birth control that you’re sexually active, but people take it for so many different reasons — it doesn’t always have to [prevent] pregnancy,” Savage said. “Even if it is for that reason, that’s none of your business. It makes people feel ashamed of something that they shouldn’t be ashamed of. I mean, it’s medicine, it’s helping you, and if you feel like you need that, no one should be able to tell you that that you [shouldn’t].”

Illustrations by Riley Johansen.