I am writing to share my experience with birth control in honor of “Thanks, Birth Control” Day.

I have heard from many patients that talking about contraception and sex is awkward. I say, let’s lean into that discomfort. I’m sharing my story today in an effort to normalize the conversation and reduce the stigma. Birth control is a very individual decision and, as a nurse, I try to help every patient find the best match for her own personal needs and priorities.

Like many, my birth control story started with condoms, which are about 87-98 percent effective when used correctly and used every time. When I was 24, I decided to transition to an intrauterine device (IUD), a long-acting reversible contraceptive method that is over 99 percent effective and lasts up to 12 years.

I wanted something super effective and non-hormonal that I didn’t have to think about taking every day, or even every year.

Thanks to birth control, I was able to delay pregnancy and focus on becoming a registered nurse and building a life with my (eventual) husband, Tim.

For six years this birth control worked for me until we decided we were ready to grow our family. In 2016, we welcomed Ellie Wren into our world!

Knowing we didn’t want to get pregnant again after Ellie was born, I had a new IUD placed at my six-week postpartum check-up. This time, however, my body had changed and I experienced different side effects than the first time. But thanks to conversations about the options available to me, I was able to change to a different IUD that has been a better fit for my life for the past three years.

This year on “Thanks, Birth Control” Day, I’m celebrating by renewing my IUD with my health care provider. I’ll also celebrate how access to contraception care and resources are allowing me to control my reproductive health while prioritizing achieving my advanced degree as a nurse practitioner through the University of Colorado.

My support for birth control runs deep.

Access to birth control provided me with the power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and live my best life.

So today, let’s all say #ThxBirthControl for the ability to fulfill our dreams without apology or compromising our potential.

Emily  McGough

Telluride Regional Medical Center