When I was fifteen I stopped having regular periods – I would get them every 3-5 months and my cramps were painful enough that I had to miss school. I finally got the nerve to tell my religious mother what was going on, and she took me to a Christian gynecologist she trusted. After finding out that benign ovarian cysts run in the family, the doctor told us I should take birth control to regulate my period, reduce my chances of developing a cyst, and alleviate my cramps. But my mother refused, stating that taking birth control would encourage me to have sex. She privately told me how disappointed she was that the doctor would suggest such a thing.

So I went to Planned Parenthood. I took the bus to an office in another city where I wouldn’t see anyone I knew. When I got to the front desk, I immediately started crying in front of the receptionist, feeling lonely, vulnerable, uncertain, and extremely fifteen. The receptionist was incredibly kind – she listened to me babble about my periods, the history of cysts, my mother… and she made an appointment with a clinician, ensuring it wouldn’t show up on any insurance bills.

I send monthly donations to Planned Parenthood now, because they are there to take care of so many young women, like they took care of me.

-22, SF, woman, Eats breakfast food for dinner