Over the last 10 years, I've used five different types of birth control: two types of pills, condoms, Plan B and, most recently, an IUD. Given that I'm only 28, birth control is probably something I will have to think about actively for the next two decades, and I'm not unique. Yet women's "sagas" with finding contraception that works for our lives and bodies is something most of us rarely speak about in-depth.
Deciding how to control one's reproductive health involves a lot of factors: accessibility of said birth control, finances, convenience, menstrual cycle, how sensitive your body is to hormones and/or to latex... the list goes on. Finding the right birth control involves a whole lot of bodily trial and error.
Taking ownership over your own reproductive choices can be incredibly empowering. It also can be exhausting knowing that there are politicians who are actively working to restrict access to birth control and slut-shame the women who use it. And that's a whole lot of women.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of 2015 there are 43 million women in the United States who are sexually active but do not want to become pregnant. And of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who have had sexual intercourse, more than 99 percent have used at least one method of contraception. Sixty-two percent of women who are of reproductive age currently use some type of birth control.
And while birth control is most often used to, ya know, control birth, many women also use it to regulate painful menstrual cramps or conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Almost every woman has a story about birth control, whether she's been on the same contraceptive pill for 15 years, or tried the Patch for awhile and then opted for the withdrawal ("pull-out") method and condoms, or doesn't sleep with men at all and only uses the pill to regulate her menstrual cramps. Or maybe she got an IUD after having children and now has gone through menopause. These are the stories that we rarely hear about, but wanted to explore.
I started by telling my story. Then we asked women to let us into their homes and allow us to photograph them with the contraceptive method they use right now. Fourteen of them agreed.
All photographs by Damon Dahlen
Editor's Notes: (1) The IUD used in the photographs is a demo ParaGard copper IUD provided by Planned Parenthood. (2) For logistical reasons, one of the photographs was shot in the Huffington Post office instead of the woman's bedroom.
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