A College Girl's Complete Guide To Navigating Different Methods of Birth Control

Being a young woman in college, it can be hard to navigate what exactly you want in the vast sea of different methods of contraception. Medical websites will give you the cold hard facts about which birth control options will give you which side effects and how you might feel on them. While that's very important, I think it is also good to know the real life experiences behind those effects, as a sort of comfort to know that there have been millions of women who have been in the very same place that you are. 

Of course birth control isn't for everyone, in fact sex itself isn't for everyone. However, you want to decide whatever you are ready for is entirely up to your prerogative. It is important to note that this article is simply a collection of experiences of fellow college women who have tried out these methods. Talk to your doctor if you feel ready for any of these birth control methods, and figure out which one is right for you. Let's also get one thing clear! None of the following contraceptives will prevent any STDs or infections, always make sure to wear a condom when meeting somebody new, and have an open discussion with your partner about sexual health and history!

Now let's get started!

 

Makenna Brown, Preferred method: The Pill

"I’m on the pill right now, it’s the only birth control I’ve ever used. I first went on it when I was 14 and stayed on it until I was 18. I took a break from it for a year because I had heard so many people talk about the different side effects and I really didn’t know what it was like to not be on it. I think I had a significantly less range of emotions when I came off of it, I don’t think I cried the entire year I was off. I just went back on it these past few months and I haven’t had any major side effects except maybe some moodiness the first week, which I assume was my body trying to figure out why I was introducing all these new hormones into it. My periods are so much better on the pill. I don’t PMS, I don’t bleed as much, I don’t cramp. It’s fantastic".

Joy Lin, Tried method: The Implant (Nexplanon)

"I had the Nexplanon in my arm for three months. I got it inserted at Planned Parenthood for free because their Family Pact (FPact) insurance covered it since I don’t have my own source of income. The procedure was painless, except the anesthetic shot. Immediately after insertion, the area on my arm was bruised for a good week or two. I had to keep a band-aid on for around five days. The Nexplanon heightened my emotional awareness and made me extremely anxious. I would cry at the drop of a hat. Although it eliminated the stress of pregnancy risks during sex, sex wasn’t as enjoyable because I was constantly in my head worrying, feeling insecure. Thus, I took it out after 3 months, unwilling to wait for my body to adjust to it (the recommended time frame is 6 months), because my mental health is not something to mess with. Removal was also pretty smooth and easy; my physician’s assistant made a small incision and slipped the implant out. It was thinner than I thought! Like a wooden toothpick in diameter and shorter".

Chloe Hanley, Tried method: The Shot

I was on the Depoprovera shot for a year. There wasn’t really anything good about it. I experienced side effects like breast tenderness, severe hair loss (I had a bald spot and my hair was really thin), I bled for 4 months straight and I gained some weight (but I was also weight training three hours a day 6 days a week and I was eating really healthy). I don’t want to know how much I would have gained had I not been so physically active. I experienced really bad depression, mood swings and anxiety. I read that if on the shot for a long time it causes osteoporosis. I’m now on the Kyleena IUD. The insertion was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. I had cramps that crippled me for about a week and I bled for about three weeks after insertion, now I don’t have a period. When I got it, I had experienced terrible adult cystic acne on my jaw and neck, which was painful, but it went away. I have flare ups from time to time but nothing uncontrollable. I don’t think Kyleena has given me any other side effects except some spotting a few hours/ a day or two twice a month (only heavy enough for a panty liner) and different color discharge. I do suggest the IUD over the shot and I do recommend that people stay away from the Depo shot​.

Joy Lin, Preferred method: IUD (Intrauterine device)

"I got the copper IUD a week after removing the Nexplanon. Oh my god, that was painful! I went to planned parenthood, who were able to cover the costs again. I had to lie in an examination table, feet spread out onto the steps, basically like a Pap smear or pelvic exam. They first inserted a speculum, which was cold and very, very uncomfortable. Then they inserted something to measure your uterus. Because I’ve never been pregnant or given birth, we had to wait for my cervix to dilate and it hurt a lot. Since I was in pain, I was also tensing up my vaginal muscles, which does not help. I had to take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. My cervix eventually dilated enough and my uterus was big enough, so they popped the sucker in, cut the strings shorter and then I was done. When I sat up from the table, I was shaking and half my face was numb. The pain was easily an 8/10 for me. It felt like the worst cramps imaginable! Anyway, the heavy cramping went on for a few days after insertion, and then during ovulation and periods for my next few cycles. I also had extremely heavy, thin (liquid-y rather than thick blood clots) periods after getting the iud. Now that I’ve had the Paraguard for over ten months, my body has adjusted to it and I love it! I no longer get terrible cramps or super heavy periods. My menstrual cycle is natural (I ovulate) and similar every month. This is my favorite birth control because it doesn’t have hormones, and it’ll last me another 10 years if it doesn’t migrate".

The Ring

The Nuvaring is a method of birth control that I've yet to try. It is a small, flexible piece of plastic that releases a continuous dose of hormones and is 98% effective like the pill. The women of Reddit have mixed feelings about this method of contraceptive with reviews such as:

"I love mine. It was like a choir of angels came down to sing. Been on it for like 5 years". [email protected]

"It killed my sex drive. Also gave me bad mood swings. I cried myself to sleep many a night while on Nuvaring. Either that or I was numb, or incredibly angry. I had to stop taking it".​ [email protected]

"It made me super hungry all the time but that was the only side effect I noticed. It's the least offensive hormonal birth control method for me, as the pill makes me near suicidal". --- @Paislazer

Although the stories above are the real experiences of women who have tried these methods of birth control, it is important to note that not all bodies are built the same. What works for you may not work for everybody else. Despite the importance of contraceptives and sexual health, make sure that you aren't pressured to make a big decision like taking birth control, and consult your doctor, friends, family and other people you trust.