I was 13 when the severe pelvic pain started, pain that made me miss a week of school every month and took away my power to do a simple task such as walking. Pain that felt like a knot twisted with every organ, pain that felt as if my strength had disappeared. I was 13 when I got my first menstrual cycle. And at age 21 I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I was 21 when doctors told me that while I may never be able to give birth, I would also encompass a life of pain. My only lifeline during this time was oral contraceptives.
Although 99 percent of women aged 15–44 use contraceptives, their reasons are unique. This age bracket includes your friends, your girlfriend, your mom, your neighbor and the woman that sits next to you in class. This medication benefits nearly half the population. The fact that its most-used purpose is to protect against unwanted pregnancy should be more than enough to convince policy makers and insurance companies to continue allowing free contraceptives under health insurance. However, women who use it for other reasons, such as controlling hormones, controlling acne, or in my case, for easing the wrenching pain that comes with every monthly cycle, should emphasize how life-changing this medication can be.
After my diagnosis, I learned that while there is no cure for endometriosis, hormonal contraceptives like the pill could help relieve pain by shortening a women’s menstruation. In addition, this disease is hardly researched, which could be why there is no cure. Last year, the National Institute of Health only allowed $10 million of its nearly $32 billion budget to be allocated for endometriosis, with women’s health already on the back burner.
With Trump’s administration threatening to repeal the benefits of the Affordable Care Act that allow contraceptives to be covered under your health insurance plan, outrage and a cry for help is needed. So, why should you care? Why should Americans care? As Americans, would we tell someone with high cholesterol to forego statin drugs because healthier food is an option? Would we tell a person who suffers from chronic migraines to just wait out the pain? Would we tell a man with an enlarged prostate to forego the medication to treat it? You may think these questions are obvious, but the drugs to treat these issues are covered under insurance. So if insurance companies and policy makers have decided that these drugs can be covered, why are we so reluctant to allow women to get the treatment they need?
I encourage every reader to reach out to a friend, to a parent, to a policy maker and voice their opinion. Voice your opinion and opposition to the reluctance that is shown towards allowing this life-changing medication to be affordable. At a time when there is no guarantee of affordable health care or any protection from our government, every woman could use your support, your voice.
Archer is a public health senior.