I don’t want a baby. There. I said it.
Louder for the people in the back?
I DON’T WANT A BABY.
World Contraception Day exists with the aim of informing adults about all the different types of contraception until every pregnancy in the world is a wanted pregnancy. I can’t get behind this concept enough.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully pro-choice and support abortions. But it would be much less stressful for people to be able to have easy access to contraception (and information about it) to save having to either have an abortion or carry an unwanted child, whether that’s to give up for adoption or raise themselves.
I’m someone that from a young age has sought out as much information as I can about contraception to allow myself to make the best choices I can, both when it comes to sex and also health benefits. However, I’ve been lucky in that I’ve grown up in a household where I’ve been able to be fairly open when discussing contraception, but also had good access to the internet to be able to do my own research. Some people aren’t so lucky.
Given that I’ve gone through a fair number of different types of contraception in my time on this planet, I figured I’d do a run through of all the ones I’ve tried.
I’d like to point out I’m not a doctor, nor a health professional, just a girl with a uterus. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you, just as what has worked for you won’t necessarily work for me. With that out the way, feel free to read on if you’d like to know more about my personal experiences.
TW: needles, periods, blood, sex.
For a bit of history before we get into all this, I’ve always had horrific periods. Not to the stage where I’ve ever been worried about potentially having endometriosis, but bad enough that I’d regularly bleed through my sanitary products onto my clothes (especially at school where you can’t change products as often), I’d get migraines, debilitating cramps and the like. I got my first period when I was 11, and by the time I was 16 I was regularly missing school because of my periods. I started looking into birth control and contraception as a form of medical help to lessen the burden of my periods.
By the age of 16 as well, I’d also become sexually active and had my first serious, real partner. This coincided with me also looking at birth control as a contraceptive due to not wanting a pregnancy or a baby.
Obviously most teenagers know about condoms as they’re one of the few contraceptives taught in sex ed at school. I used condoms when I became sexual active (and still do with new partners to protect against STIs), but I wanted something as a solid, reliable form of birth control too.
I already knew by age 16 I was bad at taking medication so I ruled out the pill. At that age, so we’re talking 2011, the only info I could find readily available about any other birth control was the implant.
The implant is a small plastic rod (about the size of a hair grip) implanted into your upper arm which releases the hormone progestogen into your blood stream for up to three years to prevent pregnancy.
By this point I’d already had a conversation with my doctor about not being able to use birth control that contained oestrogen due to medical issues, and at age 16 the only thing that was recommended to me was the implant, so I went for it as doctors and friends only had good things to say about it.
It was a nightmare for me.
The insertion itself was a little difficult – the nurse couldn’t get the first one in so gave up and had to go and find another one to try and inject. This was not only painful but as someone scared of needles, it wasn’t fun. Luckily I had my best friend with me or I’d probably have burst into tears on the table.
I then had a period for the next year before it properly cleared up, which actually turned me a little anaemic due to the sheer amount I was bleeding. It screwed with my mood swings (which were already bad), I had a lot of pain and basically all the bad side effects you could have.
I made it until the age of 18 with the implant before I went back to my doctor.
I’d heard a lot about being able to go on the pill at the same time as the implant, so I went back to my doctors.
After research I figured this was best for me; I could have the safety of the implant as birth control without having to worry about it, with the added security of the pill to regulate my periods. Knowing I was bad at taking medication, this seemed like a good option.
I have a lot of issues with the doctor I was seeing at the time, including this. He told me there was no way I could use both at the same time, so I had to choose. I chose the pill. Within the next week I’d had the implant removed.
While it was being removed the nurse was chatting with me about why I was changing my method of BC and contraception so I explained the above to her. She told me that was absolute BS and that I could go on the pill at the same time, but as she’d already removed half of it we were kind of too late to reverse the process.
Due to my not being able to use anything with oestrogen, I was put on the mini-pill next.
The mini-pill is a progestogen-only pill taken daily with no breaks. It works by thickening the mucus in the cervix to stop sperm reaching the egg.
Again, I only lasted two years with this. On top of my own human error of just forgetting to take it regularly, I had all the same horrible side effects which I just couldn’t cope with. This brings me up to the age of 20, in 2015. I was also really starting to struggle with my mental health at this age which I felt was exacerbated by the birth control I was using, so I decided to look into switching again.
Intrauterine Delivery System (IUD) | The Coil
Now, in 2015 there was a lot more information available. Not only online, but at this point a lot of my friends had started to explore different options too. People had mentioned the contraceptive injection to me, but due to my fear of needles and this being a regular (8- or 13-weekly) injection, that was at the bottom of my list.
Something else that had come up in research was the coil. At this point, aged 20, all I really knew about the coil was what I’d heard from parents. After looking more into it, it looked like a good option for me.
It had all the benefits I’d wanted from the implant – not having to worry about it after insertion, just leaving it to do its business, it could stop periods, there were different types to last for different lengths of time (3, 5 or 10 years) and, best of all, there was the option between hormonal or copper – which wasn’t an option with the implant.
An IUD is about the same size as the implant but T-shaped and inserted into the uterus through the cervix. Dependent on whether you have the hormonal or copper coil, they work differently.
The hormonal coil works by releasing progestogen into your blood stream for a certain length of time. The copper coil alters the mucus in your womb and cervix, which makes it more difficult for sperm to survive and fertilise an egg, and stops fertilised eggs from implanting.
I went back to talk to my doctor having just turned 21 in 2015.
For reference, this was the same doctor who told me I couldn’t use the implant and the pill at the same time and had to choose my contraceptive.
This same doctor agreed that the coil seemed like a good option for me given my history with the implant and pill. When I questioned him about getting the 5 or 10 year coil due to adamantly not wanting a baby or even a pregnancy, I was shot down.
The 10-year coil was instantly ruled out and he told me I couldn’t have the 5-year coil due to being at “the prime of my baby-making years” aged 21 and that I’d definitely want a child by the time I was 26. So, the 3-year hormonal Jaydess coil was the one I got. This doctor also neglected to mention that I needed to go back for a check up on it after 6 weeks, which I didn’t find out until three years later (about a month ago) when I made the appointment to get it replaced.
Honestly, it’s the best choice I’d ever made. I’m still mad that I wasn’t allowed the 5-year coil. However, with regards to using it as a contraceptive, it means I don’t need to worry at all about remembering pills. With regards to medical effects on my periods, aside from some slight side effects after insertion (mood swings, spot bleeding and cramps), I didn’t have a period for three years which is everything I could ask for. I do still suffer from some PMS symptoms but nowhere near as bad as they were before and it’s totally manageable.
Due to having just turned 24, this meant the three years my IUD lasted for recently came to an end so I went back to get a replacement coil fitted. This time, I saw a different doctor who was lovely. We discussed how I’d found the Jaydess coil, whether I was happy to have the same again or if there’s anything I’d like different. I asked whether the 5-year one was possible which my doctor agreed to, no comments about me being prime baby age, and just said should I want it removing in those 5 years I can go back at any time.
I now have the 5-year Kyleena coil which is essentially a longer-lasting version of the one I already had, which I’m perfectly happy with and am intending to continue using until I no longer need to, unless medical advances bring out something better in the future.
I hope having read through my history with contraceptives has helped and if you have any questions please feel free to comment or message me on any of my social medias! No matter your reason for using contraceptives, there are 15 different types available in the UK at the moment and there’s so much information out there to help you make an informed choice on what’s best for you!
If nothing else, I hope this post has inspired you to look more into the different methods you could be using, especially if you’re not happy with your current choice of contraception. If I’d have known when I was younger about all the different types out there, it would have saved me so much stress and a good few years of my life dealing with horrible side effects!
Thanks to the ambassadors behind World Contraception Day for bringing these issues into the public eye and aiming to make every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy.