A month ago, just shy of my boyfriend and I celebrating our one-year anniversary, we went together to an OB-GYN appointment — this is because we’re in the process of trying to find relief for some pretty intense vaginal pain that I’m having (and have had since puberty, but that’s a post for another day) that has stopped us from being sexually active.
At this point we’ve tried a few things — creams, some pills — but I admit that I was dragging my feet and extremely fearful of pregnancy. No matter how careful my boyfriend was being, I wanted to take some responsibility, too, and at the time of this appointment, it appeared we had made some progress managing my pain.
So I took the plunge and asked my doctor for birth control. I had done a lot of research about different methods, how they worked, how effective they were, what they cost, etc. As a college student, I knew the pill would never be an option for me due to my schedule always being so different, IUDs were not even a thought — as you can imagine — and I was against the depo shot for a number of reasons that any Google search will tell you. That left me with two options: A rod implant in my arm, and a patch. My heart was set on the implant but my insurance would not cover it, even as a treatment method. So, the only other option was the patch — five days from now, I’ll begin my second month on the patch.
My OB-GYN doesn’t really focus on my disability too much, and to be honest I haven’t decided yet if this is a blessing or a curse. But when I expressed my interest in the patch, he gave me the standard run-down about how the patch works, how to use it, and what women typically experience. I haven’t had too many bad symptoms that lasted more than a few days, like swollen ankles, besides some nausea and swelling in my breasts that have yet to even out. It is now, during my off week — the week I’m supposed to begin my period — that I’ve started to have some problems.
Birth control message boards disappointing
I’ve been digging around the internet, and I’ve found other women who had similar issues that they’ve worked out themselves. But I’ve not found what a woman with my condition experiences while on any kind of birth control, much less my own! And the answers my research has pulled up have been disappointing. Five different websites, including a message board, all said basically the same thing about women with CP and birth control:
- We’re not sexually active
- The pill is generally not something we seek because it’s the most difficult
- We’re seeking birth control to manage something
Aside from a few message board comments, and from what I’ve heard from people I know with CP who have been on birth control, I did not find one thing discussing how birth control affects women with CP who are trying to be sexually active and protected.
This speaks volumes about how we perceive people with disabilities in our society. We’re capable of being sexual beings, too. We deserve to know what a medicine will do to our body from the perspective of women who have what we have and are taking what we take, and not by what able-bodied women experience.
My experience is not theirs, because my body is not like theirs.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.