On the night of Nov. 13, a female sophomore student at PLNU, who asked to remain anonymous on account of her medical privacy, went to the emergency room at Sharp Hospital in Coronado due to acute abdominal pain. Although the diagnosis was not absolute, the medical staff believed she had suffered an ovarian cyst rupture. According to Florida Hospital, “most women will develop a cyst at some point in her life.”
Despite being common, ovarian cysts are one of the most painful reproductive problems a woman can experience, and their rupturing may lead to ovarian torsion–or twisting of the ovary–which can cause infertility if left without surgical treatment. One of the most common treatment methods for cyst prevention is the use of birth control, because it can regulate hormones that cause cysts.
When she asked the Wellness Center to prescribe her birth control, she was denied due to PLNU’s theological beliefs regarding sex outside of marriage. This is extremely problematic because it views birth control solely through the lens of contraception, but many women use it for health reasons.
A recent study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute estimated that “only 42% [of pill users] use the pill exclusively for contraceptive reasons.” In reality, there are many reasons why women need birth control. Of users, 31% moderate menstrual pain, 28% control side effects of menstruation such as chronic migraines, 14% treat their acne, and 4% help subside the symptoms of endometriosis. The study also notes that these complications are extremely common in adolescents, and 82% of adolescents on the pill use it for non-contraceptive reasons.
Many of these cited complications can greatly affect the quality of life for those who suffer from them. As someone who has used birth control methods for five years to control chronic pain caused by endometriosis, I am extremely disappointed by PLNU’s closed-minded view on this beneficial medication.
Although students can receive birth control fairly easily from outside sources such as Planned Parenthood, the issue of not providing birth control shines a light on a stigma that harms everyone, not just women who need hormone treatment.
If we continue to view birth control as something only used for sexually active women, we discourage students at PLNU from using an oftentimes necessary medication. Many health issues that can be treated via birth control can otherwise cause not only chronic pain and discomfort, but also infertility. If endometriosis, adenomyosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome and many more diseases are left untreated, those suffering can become infertile.
The Wellness Center’s outdated views on birth control need to change. By ignoring the many positive uses of birth control, the Wellness Center is harming our entire student body, especially the approximately 65% of students who are female. Rather than follow our culture’s tendency to keep women’s health issues under wraps, we should promote open discussion about reproductive health and rights.
Elaine Giles is a sophomore majoring in sociology.