I absolutely loath going to the doctor’s office. It’s not because of the doctor’s office “smell,” awkward checkups, or possibility of needing to get a shot (although I’m not a huge fan of needles either), it’s because sometimes, as a college-aged woman, doctors pressure me to go on birth control. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and I used to panic when the words “birth control” were mentioned during an appointment. After a lot of trial and error, I have a better handle on how to deal with those awkward situations where you have to refuse birth control from a doctor.
1) Stay educated on why to avoid birth control.
I used to refuse to go on birth control because I knew that the Church taught against it when it’s used as a contraceptive. It’s what every chastity speaker told me. But I never really knew why the church thought so or exactly what birth control pills, shots, patches, and implants could do to my body. After doing some research, I learned that the risks of contraception outweigh the benefits from a medical perspective and I realized that the church makes logical sense to teach against it—both from theological and medical perspectives.
It’s important to form your conscience and do some research about not only what the Church teaches but also how birth control can harm a woman’s health. I used to go into the doctor with a speech prepared on the health and spiritual reasons against birth control, but realized I only needed to know those reasons for me to better understand why I should refuse it.
2) Be polite
I often times felt the need to get very defensive when a doctor began the birth control chat. Several would keep repeating, “It’s important to keep an open mind.” That would make me mad because I wondered where their open mind was about my beliefs. But they are simply doing their jobs. So be polite and refuse. I have found a simple “no thanks” is enough to stop the discussion. If they ask why not, I usually respond “for religious reasons.” and then they stop. Usually that reason alone is enough and they make a note of that in my file so they don’t push it as much next time I come in.
But instead of just refusing the drug, try to educate them about it! Some doctors don’t realize that birth control pills can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer and that it can act as an abortifacient. Feel free to print up these medical journal articles to help them see where you’re coming from:  .
My general practitioner asks me if I have changed my mind on birth control every time I go in. I say no and we move on. It gets easier if you are confident in your desire not to go on birth control.
3) Ask about alternatives to birth control
I used to struggle with acne. I saw five different dermatologists about it and all of them suggested going on birth control to help balance my hormones as acne is sometimes a result of spikes in hormone levels. They also offered to give me a treatment that required I go on birth control because should I have gotten pregnant while I was taking the medicine, my child would be born with many birth defects. For the first time, at fourteen-years-old, my mama bear instincts kicked in and I refused both the birth control and the potentially harmful medication. I asked if there was anything else I could do to help treat my acne. They gave me other options and I was able to select a better, more natural, safe, and healthy way to fight acne without using birth control.
While there’s nothing morally wrong with going on birth control for medical reasons such as acne, PCOS, endometriosis, etc… it’s good to know that you have alternatives. Sometimes, you may need to get a second (or third) medical opinion for your treatment. Where do you begin? Look into NaPro Technology or find for an NFP-Only Doctor near you.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where birth control is so widely accepted by the medical community that it’s crucial for all young women to understand why the Church teaches what she does. Stay informed and always trust your intuition.
Hannah Crites is a sophomore at Franciscan University of Steubenville majoring in Mass Communications with a focus in Journalism and minoring in Theology. She is currently living in Washington D.C. and working as an intern for The Washington Times. She hails from Denver, Colorado and enjoys eating Twizzlers, long walks on the beach, talking in a horrible British accent, and the word “discombobulate”. Connect with her through Twitter @hannah_crites and check out more of what she has written at http://youngcatholiccentral.wordpress.com/