The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

The Voice of the Loy Norrix Community

Knight Life

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Loy Norrix Athletic Director Andrew Laboe sends 10 Knights off to college at the annual signing day event.
Loy Norrix Athletics congratulates seniors playing sports in college
Ethan Williams and Max Berlin May 24, 2024

Young women gain more control over reproductive health with increased access to contraceptive care

%E2%80%9CI+have+been+on+birth+control+for+one+year+now+and+I+have+a+Nexplanon+Implant+%5Bmiddle+of+the+three+options+shown+above%5D+%E2%80%A6+to+regulate+my+inconsistent+menstruation%2C%E2%80%9D+said+senior+Maya+Alvarez.
Credit: Sophia Wrzenski
“I have been on birth control for one year now and I have a Nexplanon Implant [middle of the three options shown above] … to regulate my inconsistent menstruation,” said senior Maya Alvarez.

In recent months, states across the country have passed legislation limiting or restricting access to child planning services such as abortion or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Access to oral or implanted forms of birth control, however, have become more attainable for women, especially in the state of Michigan. 

As of 2022, under Governor Gretchen Whitmer, pharmacists who work in cooperation with doctors in Michigan can prescribe hormonal birth control. Anyone seeking birth control via oral contraception, the patch or an implant, can seek a pharmacist who has set up a collaborative agreement with a local physician. For more information on locating a pharmacist, visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration

On a national level, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the over-the-counter sale of Opill, an oral birth control pill. According to National Republic Radio (NPR), the pill has been FDA-approved since 1973 and is 98% effective if taken correctly. Opill is on sale at Amazon, the Opill website, or in-person at Walgreens or CVS. 

Sometimes we have to take it for what it is and be realistic. We know that there are students that are choosing to be sexually active in their lives. What we can do is give them skills so at least they can do it in a responsible, healthy way.”

— Franklin Sallis

The sale of this pill without the need for a prescription has drastically expanded access to  contraception for women in America, especially young women or women living in rural areas, according to National Women’s Health Network

Before starting any contraceptive pill, however, it is important to weigh both the risks and benefits of taking birth control. While extremely effective in preventing pregnancy as well as targeting other issues, birth control can also have unintended side effects. 

Planned Parenthood notes that due to the hormonal changes caused by starting birth control, women may experience headaches, nausea, sore breasts, changes in periods and spotting. However, these side effects should not last more than three months, and some users may not experience side effects at all. There are a multitude of brands of birth control pills, containing different hormone combinations, so while some may not have the desired effects, another brand may have more positive results.

For many women, however, the health benefits of birth control outweigh the associated risks. For example, birth control can correct acne and reduce risk of cysts in breasts, endometrial and ovarian cancers, iron deficiency and various infections according to Planned Parenthood

Senior Annabelle Fuerst took advantage of the other uses of birth control when she decided to go on Accutane, a retinoid medication that is used to treat severe acne. 

“It’s legally required for you to go on birth control while taking Accutane,” said Fuerst. 

According to HCP Live, Accutane can be a danger to any female patient who gets pregnant while using it. Pregnant women on Accutane also have a higher risk of “spontaneous abortion, and developing fetuses could be born with severe birth defects.” 

In order to decrease the risk females face with Accutane, the FDA launched a program called iPledge, which ensures that any patient who is interested in going on Accutane can only go on if they have registered with iPledge. It acknowledges that they are informed of the risks and must take some form of contraceptive in order to eliminate the risk of fetal deformities.

“I felt properly educated on it,” said Fuerst. “I, of course, asked my doctor tons of questions before taking it, which she answered very in-depth.”

I know plenty of people who take it [hormonal birth control] to help their menstrual cycle or help their acne, not just to prevent pregnancy. Having that option to help control your cycle can positively impact your life and diminish health issues.”

— Annabelle Fuerst

Fuerst also said that she took advantage of the internet and saw posts that gave her insight to what being on birth control would mean for her. She said that it helped clear up any misconceptions about birth control, which ultimately comforted her as she began taking the pill.
Junior Liliana Leighton started birth control at 12 years old in order to regulate her periods but switched to an IUD (intrauterine device) when she was fifteen years old. 

“When there was the whole debate with Roe v. Wade, I didn’t want to have to go without birth control, so I went to Planned Parenthood and got an IUD,” said Leighton. 

With the uncertainty following birth control access, it’s essential to have proper education about available options. Health teacher Franklin Sallis says education on contraception is an unavoidable topic for high school students. 

“The reality of it is, ‘Are high school students making the decision to be sexually active? Yes they are,’ so for us to say ‘Don’t do it and here’s why…’ may not be the most effective,” said Sallis. 

In Michigan there are two kinds of sexual reproduction curriculums: abstinence-only and abstinence-based. Kalamazoo Public Schools is an abstinence-based district. Abstinence-based curriculum encourages abstinence while including education about birth control and barrier methods.Conversely abstinence-only curriculum does not allow for instruction about any contraception methods and emphasizes that abstinence is the only one-hundred percent safe opinion. The current curriculum for Kalamazoo Public Schools regarding reproductive health focuses on providing students with the proper skills to practice safe sex. 

“Sometimes we have to take it for what it is and be realistic. We know that there are students that are choosing to be sexually active in their lives,” said Sallis. “What we can do is give them skills so at least they can do it in a responsible, healthy way.” 

According to Michigan law, Section 380.1507, “A person shall not dispense or otherwise distribute in a public school or on public school property a family planning drug or device.” 

While teachers may be unable to directly give students contraceptive care, they may provide students with all the resources they need to make an informed decision about family planning and safe sex practices.

“We teach them about contraception, birth control, and barrier methods — we teach them how to use it, what they do for you, and the conversations you should have with your partner surrounding that,” said Sallis. 

For students who wish to seek contraceptive care, it is recommended to talk to their parents and see their primary care provider. If they do not have a primary care provider, local clinics like Planned Parenthood and Family Health Center provide birth control and barrier methods.

Parents can also be a source of support and education for those wanting to explore their birth control options.

“She wanted to find the best way for me not to follow in her footsteps,” Leighton said about her mother getting pregnant when she was a teenager.

Not everyone is able to get the same support from their parents, but that does not mean birth control is out of the question.

 In the state of Michigan, anyone above the age of 12 can consent to birth control prescription, pregnancy testing and STI testing/treatment without the notification of their parent or guardian. However, it should be noted that in order to receive the prescription, patients will have to present some form of health insurance or pay out-of-pocket. 

Planned Parenthood has several mobile apps to help connect people with access to birth control and education. If left with additional questions, visit Contraception for Teens from Michigan Medicine. 

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About the Contributors
Emily Porco
Emily Porco, Social Media Editor
Hi, I am the Social Media Editor for Knight Life. This year I am a senior and have been on Knight Life for two years. I decided to join Knight Life because I have always enjoyed writing and Knight Life is a great way to explore that interest. In my free time I like to read and hang out with my friends. Pronouns: she/her/hers
Lucy Langerveld
Lucy Langerveld, Staff Writer
Hi, my name is Lucy and I am a new staff writer for Knight Life. I am currently a Senior and excited to report on important events and information both in Loy Norrix and the broader community of Kalamazoo. In my free time I enjoy reading, hiking, and spending time outdoors!
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