Like most 18-year old’s I decided it was best that I went on some form of contraception other than condoms (they’re only 98% effective and many sexual health professionals believe they’re only good for stopping sexually transmitted diseases) to prevent pregnancy and ease my periods – which is something I’ve always suffered greatly with (periods, not pregnancy lol). A lot of my friends are on contraceptives so obviously they were my first point of call for finding out the best one. But making the best decision for you is crucial so be sure to do your own research as well!
I knew straight away that I wanted to avoid the pill. I’d heard too many horror stories about mental health and mood swings – so for me that was instantly out of the question! No way, nu-uh, nada, goodbye. I also knew that I’d be horrific at remembering to take it every day.
Something I’d heard about that I was considering was the injection - it lasts around 12 weeks and can be used by women who can’t have the hormone oestrogen, the injection contains depo-provera instead. To have this type of contraception, it’s a small injection (wow, wonder where they came up with the name for this from) into your bum and begins to work 5 days after your cycle. There are no links with infertility and arguably builds up a barrier against cancer of the womb and pelvic inflammatory disease! For me, the main selling point of this was its less than 1% fail rate. However, I decided against this for 2 reasons one of those being because I am terrified of needles (completely irrational fear and at least we know I won’t be a heroin addict). And the other being it cannot be removed until it has worn off naturally and many of the side effects, such as mood swings and bleeding, made it seem not worth at least 3 months of annoyance.
Another common form of contraception I was told about was the IUD coil. This is highly debated in the medical world with some people claiming it increases the risk of cervical cancer. This is essentially a copper coil inserted into the womb through the vagina. According to my friends who have had this it is one of the most painful experiences of their life (instantly put me off, not great at dealing with pain) and can make you bleed / spot for up to 6 months. Although, once inserted it lasts 5-10 years, can be removed at any time and your fertility goes back to normal as soon as it’s removed. I decided against this because of the horror of having it put in, the risk of cancer and the general faff it seems to be.
In the end, I decided on the implant. The implant is a 4cm tube inserted into your upper arm, lasts 3 years and releases the hormone progestogen to prevent pregnancy and can be removed at any time. I chose this because of it durability, easy ability to have it removed and it’s less 1% fail rate; the nurse putting this in even said it’s the Rolls Royce of contraception at the moment. The implant works immediately if you have it inserted during your cycle or takes up to 5 days to work otherwise and means you don’t have to worry about contraception for 3 years. It is also another good one if you can’t have Oestrogen. This also helps to prevent pelvic inflammatory disease and cancer of the womb. Although there are some side effects with this (acne, irregular periods, changes in mood, loss of sex drive) these can be combated with going on the pill for a short amount of time to help regulate the hormones causing the changes to your body. This is virtually identical to the injection but can be removed straight away if you react badly to it.
I had the implant inserted into my upper right arm, opposite to my dominant arm, on the 1st August 2017 (so about 2 months ago now) at my doctor’s surgery by a nurse and I’ll be completely honest I didn’t look when the nurse was inserting it because I am ridiculously squeamish. But from what I felt, a small cut is made in your arm and then the implant is pushed in - although this wasn’t painful as such it was quite uncomfortable whilst being put in. It does bleed at first (obviously, they’ve just cut your arm open) but a plaster is applied followed by a bandage (which I was told to keep on and dry for 24 hours) after the nurse asks you to touch it to ensue you know where it is. I would recommend wearing a t-shirt as your arm can ache a bit afterwards and muggins over here though wearing a long sleeved top and pull over hoodie was a good idea. It wasn’t. it really wasn’t.
Once out of the doctors I carried on with my day like normal and didn’t suffer any side effects (dizziness, nausea, headaches, tender breasts, mood changes – basically normal period feels). The next day I woke up with the biggest bruise I have ever seen – it covered a good half of my upper arm, I honestly thought it’d been infected. It was all purple and looked like the blood vessels had all burst under the skin, the only part untouched was the actual implant itself. However, after I’d stopped being dramatic it turned out the bandage was just too tight around my arm (thanks to my dad for stopping the panic attack of omg I’m going to die, my arm’s going to fall off etc…). My bruising lasted around 3 weeks and the slight ache I got from it was gone within a couple of days.
So far, I’ve had no major issues with the implant at all! A couple of days later I was a bit hormonal but, again, just how you’d get on your period and after some chocolate and a Mumma Julie cuddle I was fine. I can’t say much about the irregular periods just yet but so far, they’ve still seemed normal and nothing I’d have been concerned about before I had the implant inserted as they weren’t exactly regular then.
If you’re looking to go on contraception but you’re not sure what to go on I am preaching this one!! Honestly, I was so nervous to go onto this as I was never on anything before but for me this has worked so well! If you’re unsure ask your friends, family, even go to your doctors or sexual health clinic to get some advice.
Disclaimer: there are many other types of contraception out there, I just touched on the most common ones I know about. This is all my personal experience and everyone reacts differently to different things.