How I Found Contraception That Works For Me
"Before I started uni, I wanted to choose a contraception plan that was simple and without side effects, but none of the options were great."
Babies are so cute, with their tiny hands and adorable little faces. But what’s even cuter is having the freedom and resources to make decisions about when and how I might eventually have one of my own.
Before I started uni, I wanted to choose a contraception plan that was simple and without side effects, but none of the options were great. It may seem easy for some, but for me remembering to take a pill every single day at the same time is just way too hard. Plus knowing that illness and certain medications could prevent it from working stresses me all the way out.
Using an Implanon (a small plastic rod inserted in the upper arm that releases hormones) is a bit too cyborg for me. A less common option is regular hormonal injections, which I desperately want to avoid.
Fortunately my mum understood my concerns, and told me there was another option. In Australia the Mirena is the main option for intrauterine devices (IUDs), though there is also a copper IUD available for those who are reluctant or unable to use hormonal contraceptives. Basically it’s a small T-shaped piece of plastic inserted to the uterus, which releases low doses of a hormone called levonorgestrel into the body. It prevents pregnancy by thickening cervical mucus, obstructing the sperm from reaching the egg and thinning the uterine lining. It’s considered the most reliable contraceptive method, with an effectiveness of over 99 per cent. It costs around $30-$40 to purchase and insertion is generally covered by Medicare.
I had my reservations about putting some freaky science plastic inside me, and worried I would be one of the few people who suffer infections or perforations from the device. But then I read that it’s completely reversible, with no lasting effects on the reproductive system, and I thought I would at least give it a try.
I had my reservations about putting some freaky science plastic inside me
I’ll be honest with you, taking my pants off in front of a stranger then trying to lie still while she put cold metal instruments inside me was uncomfortable. Then I came home from the gynaecologists office and lay on the couch in the foetal position for several hours, which felt ironic as I’d just had my body made unable to sustain a foetus.
I was told there might be some light bleeding afterwards. It was annoying, but fine. However when the bleeding didn’t stop for about seven weeks I went back to my GP, about to beg her to take this thing out of me. She didn’t though, instead prescribing a contraceptive pill to take until the bleeding stopped. And that was… it. No weight fluctuations, bloating, acne, mood swings or pain. No repeat prescriptions or wasting time at a chemist. I didn’t need to think about it again for another five years, which is the maximum time before it needs replacing.
Finding Contraception For You
Now, three years in, I have a very light period every few months and though I still experience some mild PMS symptoms the pain is very manageable. It’s only the unpredictability of my cycle now that annoys me, as it seems to coincide with whenever I’m wearing new white undies.
While I’ve found the best option for me, I encourage you to do your own research about what contraceptive method will work most effectively for you and your body, and to speak to a health professional about your options – especially if you have a condition that affects your reproductive system. And remember that hormonal methods do not protect against STIs or HIV, so be safe!