Thanks, Birth Control!
Access to birth control is not guaranteed in the United States or around the world. Let that sink in.
In honor of “Thanks, Birth Control" Day, we’re celebrating the many benefits birth control has granted families since its FDA approval in 1960, while examining how it has impacted women’s lives around the world.
Women clearly want easy access to birth control—a whopping 82% of women 18-34 years old think birth control should be considered a basic part of women’s healthcare, according to a 2019 Power to Decide poll. It’s a critical (and necessary) part of health care that enables women to control much more than their menstrual cycles, including their broader health conditions, goals, careers, and life planning. It literally provides the power to decide.
Hormonal birth control—including the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant and some IUDs—offers a range of benefits beyond pregnancy prevention. In fact, more than 1.5 million women rely on the pill for noncontraceptive purposes, as it also alleviates a range of immediate health problems and reduces progression and complications of conditions (like endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome) that can cause worsening symptoms and infertility in the future. It helps women reduce pain during periods and can help manage symptoms from health conditions like endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, iron deficiency, and a slew of other issues. By giving women control over if and when they want to get pregnant, it can also help lower infant and maternal mortality rates, mother-to-child HIV transmission rates, and abortion rates.
To put the importance of birth control into perspective, let’s take a second to imagine what a world without birth control would look like. Obviously, there would be more unintended pregnancies, but what you may not know is that it would result in an estimated 308 million more unintended pregnancies annually among women of reproductive age in developing regions alone.* Globally, that amounts to an even scarier number.
Without birth control, women would lose the ability to plan their own futures. Since access to the pill has been found to be the most influential factor in enabling women already in college to stay in college*, more women would drop out of college. If fewer women earned college degrees, it would be harder to find stable jobs with a stable income. Women’s wages would be 33% lower than they already are, and women would not be the breadwinners in 40% of households.* Family incomes would fall, and the economy would suffer. Proving this theory, one survey found that 64% of respondents said that birth control helped them extend their education, 71% said it helped them support themselves financially, and 77% said it helped them take care of themselves or their families.*
Meanwhile, states around the country are limiting access to birth control by forcing closures of clinics. We’ve heard of patients encountering all kinds of barriers before finding our service. In fact, according to an internal survey, 70% of our patient base has struggled to access birth control at some point in their lives. From a patient whose Utah-based doctor implied that she shouldn’t be sexually active because she wasn’t married, to the 18 year-old patient who had to wait to go away to college before she could get birth control because her parents wouldn’t allow it, there’s no shortage of reasons women are blocked from managing their reproductive health.
The more women talk about this issue and openly share how birth control improve their lives, the easier it will be to fight against those who want to drag us back to the past. But it’s not just a women’s narrative—society at large needs to understand the benefit of and advocate for universal contraception access. Join us in showing the world how much birth control matters. Say #ThxBirthControl across your social channels on Nov. 13th.
To do our part to help patients, SimpleHealth has donated $25,000 to Power to Decide’s BCBenefits, a contraception access fund that helps low income women to overcome some of the most common barriers to accessing contraception, including transportation, child care, and unpaid time off work. If interested, you can make a personal donation here.
“Too many women lack access to the full range of birth control methods,” said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of Power to Decide. “But, thanks to SimpleHealth’s generous involvement with our BCBenefits fund, together, we can provide women access to birth control so that they have the power to decide, if, when and what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.”