Day 5, Post 5 – I started this post nearly a year ago. It keeps staring at me, and its time I finish it.
This is not going to be a pretty post. Content warning(s): suicidal thoughts, heavy depression, period blood, medication.
I have been on a lot of different birth controls (off and on) the last 12 years, since I was 19. I have had the shot (Depo Provera), several different pills, and now the IUD (Mirena). The patch and Nuva Ring were never options for me for many different reasons. From each one, there were benefits that mostly out weighed the disadvantages. Now though, I am not so sure. In the end, they have all made me feel the same. Here is my story and how they have affected me.
I did a lot of research before deciding on Depo as my first birth control at 19 years old. I read about the different forms available and their effectiveness. I also read about their benefits, but I never thought to read about how they would affect me. I had not yet had intercourse before, but I wanted to be on one for when I felt ready. I went with a close friend of mine to a local open door clinic when she went to get her next shot.
The doctor on site was impressed that I did my research on what I wanted. I needed an effective birth control with low estrogen (because of health problems with women in my family when having high estrogen). The shot sounded perfect for me, as I only needed to get it every three months and a reminder would get mailed to me when it was time for another shot. I also really liked that my periods would most likely stop.
With Depo, I started noticing my periods slowing down, and within a few months they stopped completely. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my sex drive slowly started to dwindle away. I thought it was just “losing the spark,” since I was in a large age gap relationship. I also started to be grumpier, and even got kind of mean at points. I gained a lot of weight, but I was also not eating very healthy when I was with my boyfriend at the time.
I never really put two and two together the first time around. I was just glad I had a low maintenance birth control and my periods were non-existent by this point. I don’t remember when I stopped taking it, but I know I was no longer seeing anyone so it made sense to stop the shots.
It took about a year and a half for my periods to come back, but they came back with a vengeance. They were a ton heavier, the cramps were worse, and I experienced bloating for the first time. I started seeing someone new by this time, so I needed something to control them. I was embarrassed by how much I bled, always terrified of waking up in a pool of blood when he slept over. One morning I woke up when he was over and knew I had to change my pad and tampon. As I was carefully getting out of bed so as not to disturb him, I heard my mom get in the shower. It was then that I had to cross my legs in an attempt to slow down the blood running down my legs. Luckily her shower was quick and I was able to hop in right after and clean myself up. I was even able to sneak back into bed and get a bit more sleep before we woke up.
Later in the relationship when we finally started messing around, I went back on the shot because that is what I knew. Great news was that my periods went away again, bad news was that all of the horrible symptoms came back. I was cranky, depressed, and gained more weight. When we broke up I stopped the shot and it took over a year for my periods to pick back up.
I forget the exact year that I started taking the pill, but I think it was around 2013. I forget the actual brand I took, but I was fairly pleased with it. My periods came back, but they were normal to light. I wasn’t as grumpy, but still pretty depressed. I just figured it was my job. In 2014 and 2015 there were days that I would cry on my way to work, wishing that I was dead and daring myself to just drive off the road, down the bank, and into the river. I hated my boss, I hated where I lived, I hated myself. I lost my sex drive and assumed it was depression. I took a break from dating and went off the pill.
Spring 2016 I had a close call with a date and decided to go back on birth control. At first things were good. I had an alarm on my phone set to go off every night at 7:00 PM. That summer I started having what I called my 7 o’clock melt down, as 7:20 I would start crying. I would think and wish horrible things about myself. I put myself in potentially stupid situations (like going to someone’s house I had only ever talked to online. To be fair, I did let my roommate know where I was going, but I honestly didn’t care if something happened to me. Nothing ever came about it, we just watched movies, then I went home).
That winter I finally put two and two together and realized my meltdowns were from the pill, as I would have them consistently 20 minutes after taking my pill. The night I realized that is what was causing my despair, I stopped them cold turkey. I wasn’t seeing anyone anymore, and I definitely had no sex drive.
I got the Mirena IUD inserted three years ago this month. The insertion was awful, and I can’t imagine going through it again. The first few months I spotted for what felt like forever, and the cramping was brutal. Ibuprofen no longer works on me, and so I have to take Naproxen. Eventually the periods disappeared, but they show up when I go into ketosis (keto diet), with horrible cramps.
I have mild-ish depression. I say mild because I don’t have the suicidal thoughts, but I have absolutely no sex drive. Only about once a week do I feel even remotely in the mood. My sex drive has gotten so low, that I don’t even care about orgasms. I am not me.
The Mirena can last up to 5 years, meaning I can have it in for another two years. I think about getting it taken out early, but also think about keeping it in until the 5 years is up and getting it reinserted. Aaron and I want kids eventually, but we have a lot to work out first. (Finances, my weight, etc).
Overall, the IUD seems to be the most logical choice. I don’t want to depends on just condoms. You could not pay me to go back on the pill (of any kind). The shot would take too long to bring back my natural cycle, which would be an issue if and when Aaron and I are ready to have kids. I heard things about the NuvaRing, but I am too short to be able to insert and take out the ring, same for the diaphragm. I have a feeling that the patch would not be as effective on me, and I have heard terrible things about the arm implant.