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This blog was written by a member of our 2024 Youth Content Squad.

Despite over half of the country using contraception, there is still a stigma behind taking birth control. There’s often an aura of promiscuity, and fear of side effects when people talk about birth control pills. But a lot of people don’t talk about how many uses the pill has on top of preventing pregnancy. One of which is why I chose to take birth control at 16.

The week I would get my period, I would have immense pain that caused me to skip school. The pain felt like more than just your average menstrual cramps. I would feel cramping pains radiating down to my thighs. The pain would come with a headache that no amount of ibuprofen could help. And if I stood too long, my legs would feel like Jell-O and my knees would start to buckle. When I woke up one morning to see what looked like my room’s walls breathing, my mom knew something was wrong. She took me to get checked by an OBGYN, and quickly my suspicion of having more than your average cramps was confirmed.

After a quick ultrasound, I found out that an ovarian cyst was causing the severe pain during my menstrual cycle. Ovarian cysts are common, but when they cause discomfort or grow too large they may need to be treated. Luckily, my doctor had a simple solution: birth control pills. The plan was for my cyst to go away naturally, but the birth control pills would stop my ovulation and menstruation. This pause in my menstrual cycle would help manage the pain I was dealing with and reduce the chance of more cysts growing.

Once I understood that oral contraceptives could put me in control of my body, I felt a large weight come off my shoulders. Birth control gave me relief in so many ways. With the pill, I didn’t have to endure painful periods anymore and I was able to regularly attend school extracurricular activities again. It also reassured me that I was more than likely not going to get pregnant if I chose to have sex. And as a bonus, a lot of the teenage acne I was experiencing cleared up due to the pill’s hormones.

Although there is a stigma around birth control, the decision I made to take the pill in my teens was an easy choice and it was the best decision for me. Not only did it help me treat my pain, it put me in charge of my reproductive health–it continues to. My reason and all others are valid.