I want to talk about my IUD. I promise it’s not going to be a lot of “TMI” stuff — it’s not my practice to talk publicly about my sex life, my health, my periods, my finances, etc… But this is?a simple story that needs to be told because I’m one of the millions of women who are?affected by decisions like the one the Supreme Court?made in favor of Hobby Lobby.
I’ve always been responsible about my sexual health and reproductive choices. I only had unprotected sex once before seeking birth control options. I got on “the pill” as soon as possible, and even carefully observed the 30-day caution period that was recommended at that time. I was told that it would take a month for the pill to be fully effective, so I used condoms — that I asked my male cousin to buy for me — as a backup method during that time. Remember I’m talking about the 1980s here. Things were different. I was different.
In the years that followed, I always knew that I was in control of my family planning. I took my pills, rarely missing a dose, for years. I took them, in fact, until I became ready to start a family in 1994. There was never an iffy period, a time-frame?without birth control coverage, nothing. Any worry I ever had about becoming pregnant was the worry that the pill might fail me.
I was responsible. I did everything I was supposed to do. And it wasn’t easy. Here’s why: hormonal birth control methods have an adverse effect on many women, and I am one of them.
Here is a chart from Mercola.com that lists the most common side-effects of hormonal birth control:
Depo-Provera — injectable birth control — has even more adverse effects.
I suffered many of these side-effects.?Beyond simply “suffering,” however, these side-effects had a profound effect on every aspect of my life. Since 2002, I’ve been the primary breadwinner in my household. To complicate matters,?I’m a single mom with two children. I do everything and have done so for many years. I have to try to be at my best, all the time, every day. Without going into a lot of detail (it would become a book, not a “short” article), I’ll add that I’m a lifelong sufferer of clinical depression and hormonal birth control worsened this. I have been responsible about my mental health just as I have about my reproductive health. I do what I have to do to be healthy. But I don’t need my birth control jacking with my stability. I have too much on my plate. I have to be well.
Both of my children were carefully planned. After having my second child in 2000, I got back on the pill. The side effects from previous years seemed to have worsened for me. I soldiered along, however, until I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally cast the pills aside and condoms became my birth control method.
While I realize that condoms are effective when used correctly, you can surely understand my nervousness with barrier methods of birth control. I’m not a person who is willing to be at all risky in managing my reproductive health. I just didn’t feel safe with this method of birth control.
Also, here is a seldom-discussed fact: men do not like condoms. That didn’t matter much to me, in my situation — I’m strong enough to stand up for what I want and need. But there are women who are more powerless than I am and even I have been in situations in which I was vulnerable. Women may in an abusive situation, or even just in a situation in which they can’t speak up. Whatever the man says goes, for many women. Furthermore, how does a condom protect a women in the event of rape?
There are just too many scenarios in which the barrier method of birth control (whether condom or diaphragm) could go wrong. So if a barrier method is unreliable, and a woman can’t use?hormonal birth control, what options does she have?
None except the non-hormonal IUD. That’s it, folks. There’s simply nothing else but abstinence, the natural rhythm method, or what I like to call “pull and pray.”
I never really considered the IUD before because the hormonal IUD has many negative side-effects, too. Then I heard about ParaGard, the non-hormonal IUD. ParaGard prevents pregnancy thanks to a tiny copper filament that is wrapped around a “T.” It is the only highly effective non-hormonal birth control method available.?I immediately set an appointment with a?gynecologist.
We didn’t even discuss payment. I had always had good insurance. I paid several hundred dollars per month to my employer to cover me and my children. I assumed the IUD would be fully or partially covered. It never once occurred to me that it would not be.
I was wrong.
When did I find out that my newly implanted IUD wasn’t covered by my insurance? After the device was already implanted and I was standing dizzily in front of the receptionist desk after the procedure. I had to write a check for $500, on the spot, an unplanned expense. Did I mention that I am the sole income in my household? I did have a partner at that time, but?I took care of my family’s finances.
As I stood there in front of the receptionist, my mind was racing. I was disoriented because of the sedation meds, and I was scrambling to try to remember if I even had enough cash in my checking account to cover the check. It didn’t matter. The deed was done. I wrote the check.
When I first published this article, critics asked “why didn’t the’doctor’s office talk to you about payment before?” I don’t know. I should have asked. Maybe the young woman I scheduled with was new. I simply presented my insurance card. I don’t know why we didn’t have this conversation before the procedure. We just didn’t, OK?
I had to do some financial juggling to cover my bills that month. An unexpected $500 expense is a big deal to most American women. Had I known in advance, I’d have cancelled my appointment and not gotten my IUD. I couldn’t afford it. But again, the deed was done.
What if I hadn’t gotten it? I’d have rocked along relying on condoms. Maybe it would have been OK. Maybe not. On one occasion pre-IUD, I had a condom “break.” I went the next day to the pharmacy to buy the “morning after pill.” The right-wing wants to take that option away, too. What would I have done?
Conservatives have the solution for us all, however. Don’t have sex, you dirty horny heathens! Just don’t have sex! It’s that simple! D’uh!
It’s not that simple. As human beings, we are hard-wired to have sex. Don’t get it twisted — I’m not a wild-eyed animal that just has to have sex all day every day, do or die. I’m a discerning human being. But expecting people to not have sex is simply unrealistic. People are going to have sex.
What if I hadn’t had that $500 that day? They’d not have snatched the device out, I imagine. Presumably, I’d have been set up on a payment plan or something.
What if I had known in advance that my insurance didn’t cover my IUD? As mentioned, I’d not have gotten it. Real talk. I could not afford it.
Hobby Lobby’s argument is uneducated. An IUD is not the same as an abortion (though indeed, that is none of their f***ing business, either). The SCOTUS is making ill-informed decisions that are affecting women’s lives. And now you want to tell me that I’m having continuous abortions because I have a copper wire in my uterus? Screw you.
At this point in my life, my concern isn’t for myself. I’m nearly beyond my child-bearing years and my IUD is safely intact and paid for. I’m safe for more than a decade. My concern is for other women. I was able to swing the cost of the IUD. Barely. Not everyone is equipped financially to do so. On an unrelated note, how long will it be before stupid lawmakers get laws passed that say that my IUD is murdering babies?