As I sat in the passenger seat of my family’s minivan, curled up in a little ball with my arms wrapped around my stomach, I was convinced I was going to die. I may have been a bit dramatic, but when you are seven-years-old, stomach aches are the worst, and this particular stomach ache was like no pain I had ever felt before. When what felt like the longest car ride of my life ended, my parents rushed me to the emergency room only to hear the doctor say I had a “tummy-ache.” My parents must have been crazy to rush me to the ER with a simple stomach ache, right? If you believe everything doctors tell you then yes, you probably think my parents overreacted. But what you don’t know is that one week and three more (unsuccessful) ER visits later, my appendix ruptured.

The appendix is a small appendage attached to the beginning of the large intestine. When it becomes infected and inflamed, you are supposed to be diagnosed with appendicitis and must immediately have abdominal surgery so the doctor can remove the appendix before it ruptures and possibly kills you. This is one of the most common causes of emergency abdominal surgery in the United States, so why did the doctors so easily misdiagnose me? I do not have an answer to that, but this experience has taught me things that have greatly influenced my view concerning health and medicine.

There is an endless list of medication and pills that we can put into our bodies in hopes of curing illnesses or preventing unwanted circumstances, and in my opinion many of these are unnatural and harmful to our bodies. We’ve all seen those commercials on TV advertising a new drug that will help some ailment and everything seems great until the narrator says, “Side effects may include insomnia, weakness, loss of appetite, canker sores, high cholesterol, acne, panic attacks, hallucinations, blindness and in severe cases – death.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to take a pill that makes me hallucinate, go blind, gives me acne and then kills me. Hormonal contraceptives are one of these things that I do not believe in because they are unnatural and potentially harmful to our bodies. I understand that most people prefer the pill or any other form of hormonal contraceptive over a condom for various reasons, but in my opinion, people need to research the things they are ingesting and inserting into their bodies.

My cousin, who will remain anonymous, has been on the pill since she was twelve years old because her doctor told her it would help with her acne. I see a couple of things wrong with this situation. First: yes, acne is not fun, but it is natural and unfortunate part of an adolescent’s life, so instead of altering our bodies’ hormones and ingesting an unnatural substance, why not treat acne the natural way – with soap and water? Second: my cousin put her whole trust in the doctor, just as my parents did when I had appendicitis. I think doctors are smart and helpful for many things in life, but I don’t treat their professional opinion as doctrine. They are human and make mistakes. My cousin should have considered the doctor’s recommendation, combined it with her own research and then made an educated decision about whether or not hormonal contraceptives were right for her.

Long story short, my cousin, now 24, and her husband have been trying unsuccesully to have a baby for two years. After numerous test and examinations, doctors have concluded that because she took hormonal contraceptives for so many years, her female organs no longer operate properly. It may be another 2-3 years until she is able to conceive.

So many girls already have difficulty getting pregnant due to conditions like ovarian cyst syndrome, endometriosis, adhesions, fibroids and uterine malformation, and many of these girls don’t even know they have these problems until they try getting pregnant. So why mess with something that might already be at risk? Why alter your body’s natural cycle by taking unnatural amounts of hormones when you can achieve the same goal by using a condom? In my opinion, it’s not worth the risk. To me, it is worth it to use a condom and keep my body natural and balanced, rather than potentially ruining my chances of getting pregnant by taking hormonal contraceptives.