Birth Control Process

Birth control is wonderful and freeing and very, very important. I'm 20, I want to have intercourse, I don't want a baby for a long time, so I am on it. That said, it's a pain in the ass to find the best birth control method for your lifestyle. As Dr. Kate was saying in her post on the Daily Bedpost, it's hard to match up with your pill, and if you don't it's easy not to use it properly.

I think a lot of women (especially young ones) expect that they will just go to the doctor and be handed the No-Babies Pill and have done with it. I encourage doctor-going and birth-control-getting, but go in with an open mind and know that it might take some trial and error to find the right birth control method for you. Like any medicine, different people react differently to the chemicals, so you've got to figure out what works for your body.

In the interest of opening up discussion about this sort of thing in a public way, here is the story of all MY trials and tribulations in the world of birth control:

I get migraine headaches with aura (blind spots, sparkles, etc) so when I first went to Planned Parenthood to get birth control (when I was 16), they told me my only available method was the shot (Depo Provera). It is an estrogen-free method, and estrogen is associated with higher risk of stroke among those who get migraines with aura. There are other methods of Progestin-free birth control, but I didn't know that at the time.

So I went on the shot, and went just bat-shit crazy for the year or so I was on it. I cried at the drop of a hat, was angry very often, felt icky lots. My sex drive was drastically reduced, and I did not get as wet during sex. I also got my period very sporadically, was tired all the time, gained weight, etc. Woot, lots of fun.

Finally, I did some research and discovered Progestin-only Pills (POPS or Ortho Micronor) and switched to those. Much better in terms of side effects, but not perfect. My sex drive didn't quite get back to its former glory, but it came back a little. I still had breakthrough bleeding, irregular periods, and some mood swings. All fun, of course, but not quite as much of a shit storm as the shot.

POPs have to be taken at exactly the same time every day or their effectiveness declines drastically. So I bought a watch with an alarm that beeped when it was time. I still missed some, though, and I wanted a method that wouldn't require as strict adherence. Plus, the spotting between periods was damn annoying.

So I tried the pill with the lowest dosage of estrogen possible. I don't remember the name of it, as I was only taking it for a month. The day I started taking the hormones again after my first placebo week, I got a migraine that put me in the hospital. So that was definitely a no-go. I went back to POPs.

And THEN I got an Intrauterine Device (IUD). That was about a year ago. Some doctors will only insert an IUD in women who have had children. I haven't had a baby or anything, but at Planned Parenthood in California, they have more contemporary policies and gave it to me anyway. I chose the Mirena, the five-year implant which sits in your uterus and releases a small amount of local progesterone to prevent pregnancy.

I LOVE it! I don't have to do anything like take a pill, so the very tiny risk of pregnancy isn't mitigated by my usage. My periods are regular again, I don't feel hormonal-crazy, and my body feels healthier. I'm back to my pre-birth-control weight. Best of all, my sex drive is back with a vengeance. Boom Boom! I'm set for five years, so all told it's cheaper than any other method I'd have to keep paying for every few months. It's great.

That's four years after my quest for the No-Babies Method began. (I got the IUD a year ago, but my periods were still irregular for a while after it was inserted, so I'm considering my birth control quest accomplished now that they're back to normal.) Not everybody will have as much trouble as I did; like I said, I get migraines and that had a big effect on what I could take. But be patient, because it's totally worth it. Choosing when to have kids is super, super, super important. And pretty nifty.

If you want to know more about birth control methods, I recommend Planned Parenthood and as great info sources. Happy questing!


On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

Creative Commons License
This work by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.