women’s health

Birth Control: What’s in a name?

June has been a somewhat shitty month for me, and–bear with me here–the bullshit the US Supreme Court just pulled made me kind of think that I might know the reason why I’ve been in such a funk. I have really had no desire to do shit–not even the desire to waste time, even. That’s understandable for one or two days, but, like, three weeks in a row? At this point I’m so lethargic that I just cannot be fucked about anything.

So what gives? Why was my June so shit?

Sure, I got a terrible case of strep throat the first week in, resulting in a fever so bad that I got a sick day off work. (I work in South Korea and that is, patently, something One Does Not Do Unless Absolutely Necessary and Even Then You’re Still Going to Get an Evil Eye, Depending on Your Boss.) I also lost my phone and had to shell out a couple hundred for a new one, just as I thought I was going to have extra for savings. USA gave me a heart attack when we played Portugal and my neighbors did not appreciate my cries of anguish. Yeah, okay, some crappy stuff happens. But crappy stuff happened in May and April and March and…

But I think it’s the fact I’ve been off birth control for a month. I stopped taking them when I went on antibiotics for strep because I’ve found the combination just puts my stomach through hell. I figured I’d just take a break this month, seeing as how I’m not getting any action from the gentleman contingent at present.

Apparently that was a Dumb Idea.

Primarily I use the pills to help control my estrogen levels to keep my emotions (and ovarian cysts, but forget about that can of worms) at a well-balanced level. I wish someone would start calling these pills what they really are–they’re hormone therapy. Yeah, they help prevent pregnancy, but there’s so much more that they do. When you find the right pill for your body, they can help lessen cramps, clear up your skin, and–if you’re like me–keep you balanced enough to actually find the energy to get up and go to a museum with a friend or even just go deal with work for 8 hours without wanting to snap a neck.

When you tell people you’re on birth control, how many times has an eyebrow been raised? “Mmmmmhm, I’m sure you are.” Well, dear stranger, I’m happy to inform you that I’m not getting actively laid every night of the week. I’m just an estrogen-deficient gal who wants to get some pills without being judged, harassed, or denied my right to healthcare.

When I think about how expensive birth control is back home ($35+ compared to $9 OTC in Korea) and how difficult it can be to get for some women, I feel less crappy about my June but crappier about the state of the world in general, so that’s quite the trade off.

$35 for pills that do so much for so many women! If you work minimum wage in most American cities, that’s 5 hours of work at least. For one year (plus let’s say an extra pack because sometimes you lose one in airplane luggage or something) that’s… $455. And this is for the bare bones stuff, not even as much as some gals have to pay for the more cocktailed up formulas because their physiology is different. Paying $60 for a monthly pack is not unheard of in the States.

If you go to Korea or China, birth control pills are available over the counter for stupidly cheap compared the the USA. The brand Marvelon is used in Canada and other first world countries, and you can get as many boxes as you need in one trip. Shit, stock up before you head home to the States, ladies. It looks like it’s going to be a long time before we have affordable and easy access to hormone therapy, at this rate.