The Struggle of Obtaining Birth Control as a South Asian Woman
We don’t talk about sex in my family. In fact, I never received the talk about the birds and the bees from my parents. Instead, I was constantly told to stay away from boys without proper reasoning provided. Sex is a taboo topic in South Asian societies, which is why I received all of my sex education from school and the internet instead of my parents. For the most part, I have been okay not discussing sex with my parents, but it did make the process of obtaining birth control extremely difficult.
Ever since I was ten, I struggled with hormonal acne caused by the onset of puberty. After doing some research, I was pleased to find out that certain birth control pills aid in clearing these types of acne due to the hormones it contains. Furthermore, some brands of the pill also alleviates severe period cramps, which is another thing I suffer from. I concluded that going on the pill is a great option for me because it can increase the quality of my life by taking away menstrual pain, as well boost my confidence by clearing up my skin. Plus, it’s comforting to know that if I ever do decide to become sexually involved, I will have a contraceptive method readily available. It’s also important to become familiarized with the potential side effects, such as migraines and weight gain. However, after evaluating the pros and cons, going on the pill is definitely the right decision for me.
Birth control is a prescription medication, which means your doctor has to prescribe it to you. This was a major issue for me because my pediatrician is a South Asian and a family friend who would probably tell my parents I requested the pill (even though this violates HIPAA). Due to the need to be discreet, I started looking at online delivery programs such as Nurx, the Pill Club, and Her’s. Certain states, including my home state of New York, allow patients to obtain prescriptions for birth control online. These programs were extremely appealing to me because I didn’t have to go to the doctor or the pharmacy since the product would have been delivered straight to my house. You essentially enter your health details such as blood pressure and past medical history to see if you qualify for contraceptive products. Furthermore, I verified the legitimacy because a few of my South Asian friends had gotten their hands on birth control through this method. Most insurance covers online prescription for birth control and there are low price options for those patients without insurance for approximately $15 a month.
However, I ran into a problem when the first company I tried out informed me that my insurance would not let the transaction pass through. I was positive my insurance covers birth control but the same issue persisted with the next two companies I tried. I called my insurance company to see what was going on. Turns out, my insurance does not cover online birth control and I would actually have to get my prescription physically from a doctor.
I felt like I was at a dead end because I don’t feel comfortable discussing this topic with my doctor at all. Luckily, one of my suitemates informed me I could get birth control from my university’s student health center. Apparently, colleges give out birth control pills very easily because they are aware a lot of their students are sexually active and they want to minimize STD’s and student pregnancies. This was the route I decided to take because my parents would have no way of knowing and my insurance would cover the birth control pills.
Growing up in a South Asian household prevented me from talking to my parents about a lot of things related to my reproductive health, such as birth control, due to it being a taboo topic. For others who are in the same boat as me having trouble getting birth control because of cultural constraints, I would highly recommend discussing the issue with older siblings or friends. Nowadays, we don’t have to visit the doctor to obtain contraceptives. There are other options available such as online delivery companies and medical centers in college campuses, which makes getting birth control easy and discreet.