I got my first real boyfriend in college. My parents are religious immigrants and very closed-off people, which made it hard to open up to them about relationships. When I’m at home, I still have a curfew and can’t hang out with a boy alone.
That being said, I didn’t go to college with the sole intention of being in a relationship and having sex, but I guess I met the right guy at the right place at the right time. After our first time having sex, with a condom, I was terrified that I was pregnant, but didn’t say anything because I was afraid of everyone’s judgment. Luckily, my period came about a week late and I could breathe again, but I knew that I needed to start a birth control method just to have that ease of mind.
According to a CNN survey from 2015, 68 percent of teens don’t use birth control or protection because they’re afraid their parents will find out. It’s a hard conversation to have, especially if you have religious parents like mine who expect you to stay celibate until marriage, but I decided that in college I would make these decisions as independently as possible.
I searched my options, keeping it solely to the pill because that seemed the most accessible to me. According to Planned Parenthood, the pill is 99 percent effective if taken every day at the same time. If you start taking combination pills — which use both estrogen and progestin — five days after the first day of your period, you’ll be protected from pregnancy right away. The sooner, the better.
I brought up the subject to my parents in the most nonchalant manner I could think of, mentioning that it could help me control my acne. My mom gave me one of the most disgusted faces I could ever imagine and asked why I would even bring that up: “Are you having sex?” I said no as quickly as possible. “Then, end of discussion,” she said.
I knew I still needed to do this, though, so I opened an incognito tab and searched, “how to get birth control without my parents finding out.”
The results seemed promising: There were walk-in clinics, delivery options and even online OB-GYNs that, although I’m not sure how legal, claim to be able to prescribe the right type of birth control to you. One company, Nurx, was called “Uber for birth control” by NBC News and delivered it straight to your doorstep.
The options seemed good, except for one thing: the cost. Without insurance, some pills on Nurx cost up to $50 a month, which I couldn’t pay. On top of that, I would have to charge it to my credit card, for which my parents get the monthly bill.
Then I looked up New York state laws about birth control and found out that minors were allowed to ask their doctor for a prescription without their parents’ permission. So, I decided to ask my doctor not to tell my parents about it. I booked an appointment for 10 a.m. because I knew both my parents would be at work then.
My doctor knew my parents well and understood why I would want to keep this a secret, at least for now. She also mentioned to me that with my insurance, I could call the company and ask them to omit my prescription from the monthly bill. She delivered my prescription to a Binghamton pharmacy and my parents have no idea.
Fast forward about a month, I picked up my birth control pills for free and started taking them on the first day of my period. The pill I was prescribed was Junel FE, a combination pill that includes iron in the inactive pills, which my doctor recommended to me because I have anemia.
I didn’t know what to expect in terms of symptoms, but I threw up on my third day. My cramps were worse than they ever were and my period lasted nine days instead of my normal four days. But the worst part of it all? I couldn’t tell my mom about it when she called and asked how I was doing.
Starting birth control can be a scary experience, especially when you’re going about it alone, but at the end of the day, it’s your body and your choice to do what you want. I learned how to be independent of my parents and their culture in a very extreme way, but I also found out important information that every girl should know.
You do not need your parents’ permission to get birth control. New York state law allows teens to consent to confidential reproductive health care. Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans are required to cover birth control with no copay, but this rule hasn’t been followed by all companies, so check with your provider first.
It will be hard, but don’t let anyone stop you. I know I’m not the only student who is in a relationship and can’t talk to their parents about it. I hope my experience reaches them and helps them take their mental and physical health into their own hands, no matter what their parents say.