Jul. 7th, 2011

merchimerch: (Default)
I'm inspired by the My Planned Parenthood Carnival that is going on at Shakesville (http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/), What Tami Said (http://http://www.whattamisaid.com/), and a bunch of other feminist blogs, and I'd like to tell my story as well.

Planned Parenthood is the organization that first introduced me to natural birth control. I would probably have been on hormonal birth control for much longer if it weren't for the wonderful doctors and employees at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Seattle in 2004.

I wonder what all of the anti-PP, anti-abortion, anti-birth control people would think of that.

That's the thing about Planned Parenthood: they educate women about their bodies and their reproductive choices, so that women can make the best decisions for themselves. They also provide really important services for a wide range of people, and I depended on them while in grad school, especially when my insurance lapsed over summers and other periods.

So here's my story of how Planned Parenthood helped me get off of hormonal birth control, a choice that I feel is much healthier for me:

I generally used my college clinic to get hormonal birth control, but it was getting more and more problematic as the different pills and rings that I used would first be on and then pushed off of the insurance plan. Different side effects were starting to show up from the different types of pills/rings, but I never thought to look for other options. My mother was on the pill when not having kids and my grandmother was one of the early adopters of the birth control pill. It was the way that all the women that I knew avoided pregnancy.

In 2004, I was set to head out for my dissertation research abroad, so I went to Planned Parenthood in Seattle to get some pill packs to tide me over until I could get some in the country that I was travelling to. My appointment happened to be scheduled for the day that there was a bombing in the city that I was due to live in for the next year. As a result, I was beyond panicked and edgy, but I went to my appointment all the same. Once at the appointment, one of the first things that they did was take my blood pressure and it was off the charts. I don't remember the numbers, but they were shockingly high.

I was only in Seattle for a summer language program, so the doctor had no medical history for me, and couldn't really take my word that my blood pressure is always 120/80 or below. She had the nurse wait a bit and take the BP later, but it was still high, and the doctor said that she couldn't prescribe hormonal birth control for someone with such high blood pressure readings.

I was incredibly disappointed and stressed when she told me that she couldn't prescribe me birth control pills or rings that day; I was due to run out just a few days later. What the doctor did instead was fit me for a diaphragm and talk to me about FAM, the fertility awareness method (she also gave me some free Plan B, in case I couldn't get it in my host country). The doctor gave me a handout and pointed me toward some websites, saying that she thought that I might be a good fit for FAM, since I was in a long-term committed relationship and wanted children eventually. I was resistant at first and disappointed that my long-standing, low-risk go-to birth control wasn't going to be readily available because of my blood pressure.

Despite my disappointment, I did read the literature on FAM, including Toni Weschler's _Taking Charge of Your Fertility_. The rigor appealed to me and I trusted the science around it. For someone who was used to taking pills every day, taking a temperature every morning didn't seem like a stretch. I later went to doctors and my blood pressure was diagnosed as normal, but I stayed on FAM. It has worked wonders, and I've never had an unwanted pregnancy as a result. The guidance that I received from Planned Parenthood helped me make informed choices about my fertility.

Here's the hub post of all the My Planned Parenthood stories from today: http://www.whattamisaid.com/2011/07/my-planned-parenthood-blog-carnival.html. They're really inspiring, and make a very clear argument why we need Planned Parenthood for so much more than legal and safe abortion.

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merchimerch

October 2011

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