It was my mum’s idea for me to go on birth control because earlier than she expected, I started having sex. I had a boyfriend at the time, and we both felt comfortable starting that next stage in our relationship. However, I didn’t get to decide properly what contraception methods I could choose from.
Even having been on birth control for around five years, I still believe that my options were not discussed enough. My nurse went straight to the “normal” option, and though I had done research on other methods, my nurse was insistent that the pill was the “most popular” route for my age. Of course, that was the end of my input.
My mum never made me feel uncomfortable about going on birth control – I think from her own experiences she understands what being a teenager in love is like, so we would have open conversations about how the pill affected me. My friends are the same; we would always discuss the side effects and relief of being on birth control without judgement of who has chosen (or been forced on) what.
The pill was a rollercoaster for me. In my experience, I suffered from extreme mood swings quite often. One minute I would be fine and the next a tiny inconvenience would set me off, which left me crying uncontrollably or incredibly irritated for the next hour. This caused a lot of tension in my house as my stepdad didn’t know how to deal with these outbursts and even provoked them unknowingly. It was such an isolating experience; I didn’t want to annoy my friends, and my boyfriend at the time became increasingly annoyed at my eternal apathy. If I had known how difficult the mood swings would have made my relationships, I definitely would have refused to go on the pill.
I also found that I was constantly missing the pill or taking it at the wrong time, which I can only imagine was messing my hormones around. The struggle with remembering to take it was real and setting reminders on my phone was such a hassle. I remember frequently ranting to my boyfriend about how unfair it was that it was a woman’s responsibility to prevent pregnancy – why wear a bulletproof vest when you could stop the bullet?
I spoke to my friends about this horrible experience and learned that I wasn’t alone. A few of them had also struggled with the same adverse effects alongside spouts of nausea that never seemed to cease, even after using natural remedies and medication. Despite these issues, no one I knew at the time had tried anything different. Enough was enough. I was done with my ever-changing mood and decided to march back to the GP clinic with the NHS website on my side.
I saw a different nurse this time, and she was very supportive and explained my other options. After a proper conversation in which I was an active participant, I was allowed to start Depo-Provera, which is a contraceptive injection. There was some concern over its chance of increasing my risk of osteoporosis (a health condition that runs in my family) but I was more willing to take that small chance than keep struggling with the pill. I was convinced that the injection was the way to go because it was every three months (sure beats every day) and releases only progesterone instead of a combination of hormones.
So a massive needle was poked into my butt cheek and off I strutted into the world once again. Soon after my third injection, my periods stopped completely, which is a huge benefit for me. I still remember the previous horrors of my period cramps – those left me crying on the floor in the fetal position whilst my brothers threw chocolate at me, and now they won’t be a problem anymore.
It took me a long time to gain the courage to ask for a contraception change and since I fought for my sexual wellbeing, my friends have followed suit. One of my best friends was upset about her never-ending nausea, so she made the decision to get the implant; apart from playing with it from time to time (which I think is gross), she has completely forgotten that she’s even on birth control. I haven’t experienced any significant side effects but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Depo-Provera shot is the perfect solution for everyone. I believe that every person has the right to choose what contraception works for them whether that be condoms, contraceptive patches or IUD. If you’re struggling with the type of birth control you’re on, ask for an appointment at your doctor or local sexual health clinic for advice. Your body means your choice.