Birth control is one of those things that every woman thinks about and deals with. I mean, every man should be thinking about it and dealing with it too but regardless of whether or not they are, the burden tends to land on women.
A year and a half ago, when I first started thinking about birth control, “don’t get knocked up” was the modus operandi. It was about the only thought I’d had regarding the subject. I’d never been on the pill before and I had no idea about the possible benefits or side effects of various pills.
I didn’t really think about STDs because I had the delusion that I’d live happily ever after with the first boy I fell in love with. I also had no idea about the possible impact on romantic partner selection and wouldn’t have cared anyway because, again, I thought I already had someone.
I just wanted to make sure that we could have sex safely, without worrying about unplanned pregnancies. I didn’t want to use condoms because I thought they were kind of gross and I didn’t like how they felt.
I still think they’re gross, but now I think they’re necessary.
I didn’t want to take a pill every day because I didn’t think I was responsible enough to remember it. I was also worried about both the long term and short term consequences of synthetic hormones. I’d dealt with anxiety a lot and worried that messing with my hormones might make it worse.
I decided on getting Mirena, the hormonal IUD, because it didn’t require remembering to take pills and because the hormones mostly stay localized instead of entering your blood stream. Plus, most of my friends who had Mirena had lighter periods or no period at all. I really liked that idea.
It took a few tries to actually get the implant and the insertion was painful, but I was so happy with my decision… for all of two days.
Due to serious complications, I had to have it removed ten days after it was inserted.
After deciding to give in and try the pill, I stared taking Sprintec (partly because it would help relieve my Endometriosis symptoms). I was really unhappy with the side effects. I was unbearably anxious, I didn’t stop bleeding for months, and my skin broke out really badly.
After debating back and forth and trying to give my body enough time to adjust, I went back to my doctor and told him about my symptoms. He recommended another pill, Ocella, which contained a different type of progesterone.
Despite my optimism and hope that the change in progesterone would work out, I couldn’t stay on this one either. My skin improved somewhat but didn’t really clear up. I didn’t bleed or cramp of this pill but my anxiety was completely out of control.
I didn’t even consult my doctor this time; I just stopped taking it because I couldn’t handle it anymore.
The last pill I tried was a progesterone only pill called Camilla (no link because I didn’t write about it). I was the happiest with this pill by a long shot. After the first week of ravenous hunger, the only side effect I experienced was mild dryness. It was annoying but manageable and I stayed on Camilla for several months.
I would recommend it to anyone who is good at making sure that they take the pill at the same time every day but I was not.
It seemed like every weekend I’d sleep past when I was supposed to take my pill or just forget. If you miss a pill by more than 3 hours, you’re not protected until 48 hours after make up the pill.
My cycle is not quite regular and is usually a little longer than average. After several times that I panicked just before my period about the possibility that I could be pregnant, I decided that I needed something that would actually afford me peace of mind.
This time around, I was thinking about all of the issues I mentioned at the beginning of this post. After walking around for a week looking like I had herpes, I started to think about the risk of STDs in addition to the risk of pregnancy. Also, because I was (and am again) single, the possible effects on mate selection seemed like a big risk.
I really liked the idea of the non-hormonal IUD but I was still afraid of my body rejecting it again. I knew that if it was inserted while I was healthy (unlike last time), I’d have a much better chance of it actually working; but the memory of my first IUD experience was enough to keep me wary.
Also, while the non-hormonal IUD prevents interference with natural pheromones, it also increases your risk of contracting Pelvic Inflammatory Disease if you do get an STD.
In all the reading I’ve done, I’ve found no mention of whether or not progesterone only birth control has the same effect on pheromones and attraction. Either it’s still up in the air or no one thought to make the differentiation while studying it.
Eventually, I decided to try Implanon, a progesterone only implant that is inserted into your arm.
Despite my fears about breakthrough bleeding, which is very common on Implanon, I thought that it might be the best option for me right now. I’d read so many stories online about awful experiences on Implanon, which freaked me out, but it’s usually the negative experiences that make people go online for answers about things.
Still, it feels like a risk that it might impact who I choose to be in a relationship with but because that research doesn’t sound conclusive on progesterone pills, it would probably be alarmist to opt out of a good birth control option because of a possibility.
Also, it does nothing to protect against STDs, but no hormonal birth control does. Responsible behavior and condom use are all we’ve got for that.
I had it inserted in the middle of July. Next week I’ll talk about the insertion process and my experience on it so far.
Does anyone out there have Implanon? Or have you used it? I’d love to hear about other experiences with it.