(Forewarning to the delicate among us, I will be swearing, quite a bit, because this topic has more than earned all this swearing and then some. If you’re too delicate for that, you are welcome to leave. As this is your final warning, complaints regarding the swearing will be ignored and blocked.)
Our society is not uterus-friendly.
Actually, that’s an gross understatement. Let’s start over.
Our society is outright hostile towards uteri, and anyone who has one.
Having a uterus that insists on following the reproductive processes is just, well, devastating. It shouldn’t be and it sure as hell doesn’t have to be, but we live in a society that is stacked against menstruation and anyone who has to go through that process. For a lot of people who have a uterus, having a period — a ‘normal,’ ‘behaving as expected’ period —can be like having a case of salmonella, ranging from mild to extreme, every single month. (Some women are much luckier — and to them I say “I’m really truly honestly very happy for you” while praying they don’t notice my extreme jealousy.)
That statement is already discounting everyone who has additional conditions. People who have a uterus are severely under-diagnosed in almost every category already, simply because most of medicine starts with and revolves around people who have testicles. Now put the problem in the reproductive region, and the situation gets even worse. People who have any conditions in that region of the body (it doesn’t even have to be related to the reproductive organs!) go un-diagnosed for years because so many of our medical professionals either don’t have a damn clue or still tell people that this pain is normal, or that they need to suck it up, or that it’s all in their head, or misdiagnose because they just decided ‘it has to be this’ without actually properly looking into the matter because, hey, it’s period stuff! Periods are supposed to hurt.
(No, they aren’t. Not like this. And even if that were true, why should they, when we have the means to prevent that pain?)
I’ve lived this, too. “It’s normal!” my doctor said, despite the tears in my eyes as I curled around myself in the chair, unable to even stand up straight enough because of the pain to climb on that way-too-fucking-tall table. “You said you lost weight recently.” I regretted telling him that. My doctor before him had refused because my BMI was too high for her liking, so I thought the weight loss would help my case. It had the opposite effect. “This is how your period was always supposed to be. You just need to get used to it,” he said. Yeah, sure, it’s ‘normal’ to suddenly be in so much pain you can’t get out of bed for two days. He then proceeded to refuse to prescribe me birth control because he had decided that I was too young (I was twenty-fucking-two).
(Thankfully, there’s sites like Lemonaid Health, which is the one I use, now so that most people in the US can get a prescription birth control if they need it but can’t find a doctor with their head on the outside of their ass. I have not skipped a single day since I started getting my BC. Fuck the ‘off week.’ That does not happen because it literally cannot happen.)
When doctors do admit something is wrong, they’re often slow to act or diagnose conservatively because ‘they don’t want to deny you the chance to have children.’ This can and does lead to people becoming actually infertile or dying (or nearly infertile with an increased risk of death if they do become pregnant) because conditions aren’t diagnosed or treated in a timely manner.
Take endometriosis — which is about as common as diabetes or asthma but is still generally considered to be rather mysterious. While many medical professionals are aware of it, it still takes an average of seven and a half years to get a diagnosis because it’s often dismissed as ‘normal period pain.’ By that time, the disease has usually reached stage three or four. Not to mention treatment can be ‘repeated surgeries for the rest of your life,’ and funding for the condition is piss poor.
It also just so happens that it can only affect people who have a uterus, since the disease is literally uterus tissue growing in places that it shouldn’t, just like testicular cancer can only affect people who have testicles. And yet there’s better treatment currently available for testicular cancer, which is rarer.
These Men Trying To Describe What Period Pain Feels Like Will Make You Die A Little
If you’ve never had a period, there are just some things about it that hands down (uterus down?) you will never be able…
Just like I’m sure that all the absolutely inane rules restricting and holding back people who have periods has absolutely nothing to do with the testicles that are allowed to make the majority of rules, laws, and standards that pertain to uteri. Yeah, it totally makes sense that people who have never had a period are the ones who get to decide when enough is enough.
Here’s a short (general) list of what happens when you let testicles make the rules:
- Period products are treated as luxury goods instead of necessities. People are literally being punished with higher fees for daring to have a uterus. And, yes, this situation may be improving as some states are ‘moving’ to eliminate the luxury tax and classify these products as necessities, but the majority of states still have this tax — and several of them have already shot down proposals to remove it.
- Employers are not sympathetic, and menstruation is not a defense from being fired or from being passed over for raises and promotions ‘because you weren’t productive enough’ (because you dared to go to the bathroom too often). Employers also think they’re being fair by offering ‘medical exceptions,’ but that links back to the doctor. If the doctor doesn’t think you’re bleeding enough of in enough pain, they’re not going to spend time filling out the required paperwork. So you’re back at the start.
- Schools make life very difficult for children who are just getting their periods and navigating those early years of having one. And I’m not just talking about bullying.
- There actually isn’t a lot of information, or discussion, at all in America about periods and young people. Be it regarding access to care, access to products, if kids are missing school for reasons related to their period — America, and it’s majority-testicle-having politicians, doesn’t seem to care.
- Not to mention, female anatomy and period education is severely lacking across the board, leaving many people poorly educated into adulthood. I knew so many girls who thought that using a tampon would ‘pop their cherry’ (please don’t even get me started on the bullshit myth of cherry popping).
- Not to forget to also mention, because medicine has been so heavily male-dominated, we still don’t know the full truth about female reproductive organs. There’s still ‘new’ things being discovered about them, proper care is simply not a consideration (for example, douching is still something people encourage and pretend is safe, even though it’s garbage and has always been garbage, even before they stopped using Lysol — as for the rest of our products, the FDA doesn’t require the ingredients to be provided on the package, and it’s been found that many products contain hazardous materials), and many medical conditions related to these organs are decades behind where they should be in regards to treatment (see the endometriosis example above).
- Important political figures at best use periods as an insult and at worst have no clue how periods and/or female anatomy actually works.
I’m going to cut it off there for brevity's sake, but please do add more examples in the comments, and share stories as well, if you would like to.
Anyway — what does all of this have to do with birth control?
Birth Control makes life 10,000,000 times easier. I am a firm believer of changing the name for this category of medication. Yeah, sure, some people do use it to prevent pregnancy (and ‘control birth’), but most people who use it either use it exclusively to live a life with fewer period pains or who use it for that in addition to preventing pregnancy.
But the Republican party has made it a mission to restrict and even eliminate access to this miraculous innovation.
Trump Administration Moves to Finalize Rules Upending Birth Control Benefit - Rewire.News
The Trump administration is moving forward with two rules that would allow nearly any employer to claim a religious or…
It’s utterly appalling that this situation isn’t being taken more seriously. It doesn’t matter if changes will take a while. It doesn’t matter if the courts are able to drag it out. It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘only religious exceptions.’ You can bet your last dollar that suddenly most companies in America are going to be very tight with the anti-birth control version of Jesus that evangelicals have been praying to.
Even if you’re an ally, even if you’ve tried the whole period simulation thing, you really can’t understand what it’s truly like. Every month. Every single fucking month. (Hell, there’s even a lot of my fellow uterus-havers who don’t get it.)
It was an ‘ally’ that actually made me angry enough to finally find a way to compile my feelings on this matter into written words. While discussing the dangers of what Trump and the Republicans are doing, this ‘ally’ had this bit of ‘silver lining’ to offer:
“But you can still appeal for coverage if you have a medical condition.”
Read that again and see if you can spot the errors.
I mean, technically you don’t have to read that again because I’m going to point out the errors. But I still suggest you do to let the words really seep in. Now. The errors:
- Have you EVER tried to appeal your health insurance for coverage of anything? The process is ridiculous and can take at least 30 days when things are going smoothly. Not to mention your doctor may have various requirements before they’ll help you (for example, “you must lose x pounds’ and see if that works first”)…or just outright refuse to appeal because they decided you’re too young, or they decided they don’t want to prescribe birth control to a uterus that isn’t regularly getting up close and personal with a penis, or for whatever other stupid reason doctors can come up with to refuse to help someone who has a uterus get their life back in order.
- Not all doctors understand the importance of birth control. Hell, a lot of doctors don’t understand why it’s so important. I gave up after two, but I’ve known people who tried so many more. I’ve also had doctors and nurses — whose opinion I wasn’t asking for — tell me they didn’t understand why a lesbian-Asexual like me even needed birth control. Ex-fucking-scuse me? You’re medical professionals and you can’t comprehend why someone might want birth control unless they are having sex that involves a penis?
(Sorry. Moving on.)
- It’s going to be a lot harder for a lot of people to get proper treatment just in general, but it’s going to be especially difficult for people living in more conservative states where doctors like the ones I’ve described are far more common. And the vast majority of people don’t have the funds to keep bouncing from doctor to doctor to doctor until they find one that isn’t an idiot. All the doctors I saw were from a conservative state (is that any surprise?), and I switched to online because it was too much. The online options aren’t equipped to submit appeals.
- None of the above matters anyway because of the last part of that statement: “If you have a medical condition.” If you’ve actually read to this point, I’m going to hope I don’t need to repeat myself, but I will for those who skimmed.
People who have a uterus are severely under-diagnosed in almost every category already, simply because most of medicine starts with and revolves around people who have testicles. Now put the problem in the reproductive region, and the situation gets even worse.
And that, of course, assumes you even have a ‘medical condition.’ Heavy flows and run of the mill cramps so bad you need prescription painkillers (or worse) aren’t typically classified as a medical condition, and you can guarantee that insurance providers will put together a very narrow list of requirements. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the list only has PCOS on it, since that’s about the only ‘official’ medical condition that tends to be recognized as being treated sufficiently with birth control (BC only treats the symptoms of endometriosis, not the condition itself). How many people know that it treats acne and anemia, or that it helps prevent bone thinning? (My last doctor didn’t.)
When I was first exploring birth control, I tried to talk to my mom about it, and her response was “I knew someone in college who used morphine to deal with the pain. She never took birth control!” I’m glad for her. She did what she had to do to keep going at the time and it worked for her when you guys were in college together back in the early 80s. But fuck that shit.
I shouldn’t have to risk an opioid addiction when I can just take birth control and literally not have any period or the things that come with it: period pain, bleeding (which is different from the shedding of the lining — and for those who didn’t pay attention in health class or went to a school that refused to properly teach female anatomy, all that red stuff isn’t just blood!), extreme constipation followed by (and, later, preceded by) period diarrhea, the dehydration that always comes with diarrhea, the headaches that always come with dehydration, unnecessary extra exhaustion, crazy hormones, not to mention the additional punishments at work because I would need extra bathroom breaks (at least one an hour the first two days, and one every two hours the next three — no employer is sympathetic to that schedule) and can’t afford to go get a doctor’s note just to be allowed to go to the bathroom and maybe not be punished.
(You can say they can’t punish me all you want, but they will do it anyway, in unprovable or easily dismissed ways. Even if you have a medical exception on file, they will still shift you down the list for promotions and raises. As long as they don’t say or leave any evidence that they shuffled you down for illegal reasons, you have no case and you still got shuffled down.)
Birth control is not just about pregnancy prevention. Birth control is sometimes the only thing allowing people to live normal lives. Everyone should have access to this miracle. It’s ok if you don’t need it, or even if you don’t want it. But everyone should still have access to it. Covering birth control is not optional. This medicine cannot be dropped from insurance plans.
There is no ‘religious objection’ to birth control. There is only either a severe lack of understanding as to why birth control is an absolute necessity or assholes who want to have control over the bodies that have a uterus inside them. To the latter, fuck off you aren’t welcome here. To the former…please, I implore you. Take this as seriously as I do. Millions of lives depend on you.