More than a Method: In light of STD Awareness Month, stigma surrounding birth control pills is unwarranted due to their wide range of uses

Josie Cruzan

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While there are many forms of birth control available, one of the most common is the birth control pill. It has many different forms and variations depending on the hormone levels of whoever is taking it and the contents of the pill itself. There is a stigma surrounding the pill, as those who take it are often regarded as promiscuous or “fast” and shamed for their choice. However, people take the pill for a myriad of reasons aside from sex, and so the stigma surrounding the pill and those who use it is undue.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58 percent of people who use oral contraceptives use them for more than just birth control, and 14 percent of women use it for strictly medical purposes. In addition, among youth ages 15 to 19, 82 percent of users take the pill for non-contraceptive purposes. Those who take the pill for health reasons usually take it either due to severe menstrual issues or other conditions such as endometriosis, in which the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus and can cause symptoms such as debilitating pain and mood swings. While the majority of these issues are not curable, the pill greatly reduces their impact and is extremely helpful in treating them, allowing the user to be able to live a relatively unburdened life.

The unjust stigma around birth control often prevents potential beneficiaries from using it due to the fear of being shamed for it.  This is especially prevalent in schools, where teenagers who do use it are shamed not only by their peers, but by staff as well. Their reasons for using the pill are often not disclosed, and so those around them automatically assume that they are sexually active, which in of itself is not inherently a bad thing as long as precautions are taken, as that is their choice as well and should be respected by those around them.

Students and staff should take care to remember that people take the birth control pill for many reasons, only one of which is the prevention of pregnancy, but they face an unnecessary burden in the form of humiliation for their choices. The pill is a life-saving medicine for many people, and those people (as well as the people who use it to prevent pregnancy) don’t deserve to be subjected to judgment from those around them for taking it. The pill should, overall, be treated with the same attitude that other medicines students commonly take are, which is one of respect and maturity.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Josie Cruzan at