Cindy Pearson is the Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN). She is responsible for the organization’s overall direction and activities. Cindy began at the NWHN as the Program Director and has, over the years, coordinated the internship program, managed the information clearinghouse, and directed NWHN’s program and policy work. A transplanted Californian, Cindy moved to the DC region after obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at San Diego and working as an abortion-rights organizer for Colorado NARAL. Before moving to DC, Cindy worked in several capacities at Womancare, a Feminist Women’s Health Center. She is the president of the board of directors of Women’s Health Specialists in Northern California and the treasurer of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

  • Question 1: Are there current policies affecting women’s access to birth control?

    This is a dangerous time for all women. Some women are singled out because of how they present, because of their ethnicity, or because they are queer, or in some other way unacceptable to the patriarchy and the people who believe in white supremacy. But all women are really challenged by getting access to good information, products that work for them, for their birth control, and being affordable. Unless you are rich, you cannot afford to pay for birth control on your own and the things that make it possible for women to have that; information, safe products, and affordability, are all jeopardized in one way or another. The biggest jeopardy is really about the programs, the services, the clinics, the insurance, that makes access manageable for most women. The funding for federal family planning programs is being delayed, maybe it’s going to be cut, maybe it’s going to be redirected to fake women’s health clinics. The insurance that many women, privately insured women, relay on to cover the cost of their contraception is being eroded by the Trump administration’s invitation to employers to refuse to include contraceptive coverage and the providers themselves are under attack.
  • Question 3: How prevalent is Mirena IUD use?

    It used to be the Mirena, the hormonal IUD, was only 2% of all women and that’s based on a study, a nationally representative sample of women of all reproductive ages and ethnicities, and that was data from 2002. In 2011 to 13, before the extra funding assistance kicked in with the Affordable Care Act, it had already grown, at least in the Planned Parenthood setting, to 11%. That might include the few women who choose a non-hormonal IUD, but most IUDs are hormonal. So already in a 10 year period it had grown from 2% to almost 11% and since then, we don’t have that great, perfect reliable data, but we think its even more so because funding became easier and then after Trump some people started considering it as a safety measure. If abortion became harder to get at least they would have this super highly effective method. I literally talked to women that said, “I got my IUD last month and thank goodness I’m good for the whole administration.”
  • Question 2: What should women know before choosing a birth control method?

    The most important information for women is having a supportive conversation about what is most important to you. Is most important to you to avoid any chance of pregnancy no matter how little? Is it most important to you to be as protected as possible against a sexually transmitted infection? Is it most important to you to be able to predict exactly when you are going to bleed or never bleed? Those are different for different women, so you have to start from that place and then flowing from that is factual information about what effect all the different kinds of methods could have on those various things.

  • Question 4: What are some benefits of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs)?

    Long-acting methods that can be reversed, so not permanent sterilization, long-acting methods can be fabulous for women who want to just set and forget it. Just like, I want to know I’m protected, I don’t want to have to think about it and for many women there are either no side effects at all or the side effects were in the first couple of months and then they eased off or the side effects aren’t really that bothersome. For those women, 4 years of protection, or 3 years of protection, or 7 years of protection is like whoa, yay, this is great!