When I was 21, I went to my local walk-in clinic to get birth control. The experience began just like any other doctor’s visit. The nurse, wearing a blue plastic ring looped onto a string around her neck, asked me a few basic questions to start the process. She asked me when my last exam had been, I told her I had never had one. She then requested I come back to the clinic in a few weeks to have one. I did not have a pelvic exam during this appointment.
I expected her to explain birth control pills to me, but as she pulled on the blue ring with her index finger she told (sold) me about a product called NuvaRing (new on the market at that time). I looked around and saw a NuvaRing calendar hanging on the wall, a NuvaRing clipboard she was jotting notes on, and a NuvaRing clock hanging in the waiting room as I left the building. I left the clinic, with a 1 year prescription for NuvaRing in hand, a NuvaRing CD case (my free gift with purchase) and two packets of PlanB that the nurse told me to use after intercourse if I had any within the first two months of using my new prescription “Just in case.” She did not explain to me what PlanB was or what it did, it was simply described as a back-up birth control.
Today, I feel very ignorant of having not known what I was putting in my body, but I still believe a health care employee has a duty to explain these things before writing a prescription. This is why I am against over the counter birth control access, because even with so-called educated medical staff at our side, we’re still very much in the dark when it comes to contraception. I don’t want the responsibility of education to be left to pharmaceutical companies, because they might take the job even less seriously.
But the prospect of women gaining unfettered access to the pill has some doctors and sexual health counsellors uneasy. Would women still see their doctor for Pap smears? Could they safely screen themselves for contraindications – conditions under which the pill should not be used? Would it unleash a marketing bonanza for drug-makers and a huge increase in users?
Nevertheless, a Canadian leader in reproductive medicine and editor of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada says it seems wrong and paternalistic that, half a century after the pill’s debut in the U.S. and 41 years after coming to Canada, women still cannot get access to the most effective, self-administered birth control on the market without a doctor’s blessing.
Men aren’t required to have a testicular or prostate exam before using condoms, Dr. Tim Rowe has argued in the pages of his own journal.
Condoms, for better or for worse, aren’t chemical contraception. Men don’t gain weight, have mood swings or get blood clots from wearing a condom (regardless of what your boyfriend tells you). I wish the process of obtaining birth control, for myself, had been more in depth than it was.by