I can remember so vividly when my life journey with contraceptives first began.
I was a few months shy of turning 18, and my relationship with my love interest at the time was going incredibly fast–so fast that he had become my first. I was in the living room and my mom was sitting at the computer in the kitchen when I posed the question, “Can I get on birth control?" She was quiet for a few heartbeats before asking, “Are you having sex?" I told her yes. “I'll schedule you an appointment with the doctor next week." It was that simple.
I still think on that memory and laugh a little bit at how uncomfortable, but necessary those types of conversations are and how seamlessly my mom always allowed me to have them, mainly because she did not want to talk details. Remain as surface as possible and she's fine. Birth control was surface and preventative. She could deal with that.
I got on Loestrin 24 Fe shortly after.
It was a godsend. A little white pill that came in a packet of 28 – 24 of them hormones, four of them placebos. In the beginning, I loved them. My body was so full of hormones that I did not have a normal period for the first four months of my use. My partner and I loved that and I'm sure you can guess the reasons why. And the pill was a godsend to my very hormonal acne. The hormones in the pills balanced out my issues with my severe acne and cleared up my skin completely in a matter of months. I didn't wear makeup before, but I definitely didn't need it after.
For $54 a month, it was on the pricey side but as someone who was sexually active, was in a monogamous relationship, and didn't really like the feel of condoms, Loestrin was an ideal way to protect myself from getting pregnant.
But a couple of years into being about that oral contraceptive life, I was hit with a harsh reality of my doctor no longer being able to write prescriptions of Loestrin for me at a discounted rate. And the old rate of $54 had become doubled.
Yes, I love my health, but damn!
As a college student on an extra extra tight budget, that kind of price point didn't work for me. At this point, I was out of my long-term relationship. I was fine with eliminating the cost of an oral contraceptive for now, replacing it with a box of Trojans that I kept in my bedside table for the time being in case I did partake in casual sex.
Condoms were my default way of protecting myself from babies and the risk of STDs (aka, I can't trust these hoes or their tired lines of, “I don't have a rubber on me." “Sir, I have one. No worries.")
When I entered a new relationship, I became interested in alternatives to condoms once more. I thought about IUDs, but didn't like the idea of something being implanted up into my vagina for a lengthy amount of time like that, sight unseen. A roommate of mine told me about how she does Depo-Provera, mainly to reduce menstrual cramps, but she discussed its ease and efficacy. And it was easy and efficient. I went to my doctor, requested the shot, got one in my shoulder, and was told that after 24 hours it would go into effect. One shot every three months and it lowers your chances of getting pregnant all the way down to 0.3%? It sounded too good to be true.
And you know what? For me it was.
Every side effect that you could possibly have with Depo-Provera, I got.
I gained a little weight: no complaints here. I was nauseous, but what's a little nausea? I could deal with that. What I could not deal with, was the havoc the shot wreaked on my skin. Before any birth control products and well into pubescent years, I had bad skin, it reverted and I was delivered, but Depo brought all of that back and with a vengeance. I had the worst breakouts all on my back and shoulders, my chest, my cheeks, my jaw line–it was awful. Painfully cystic acne. I had one shot and I was done. Every woman is different, every body is different, and Depo just did not work with my chemistry for whatever reason. I could deal with certain side effects, but the return of horrific skin was not one of them.
I went to another roommate who told me about how she does oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and regulate her periods. I remembered how much greener the grass was on the other side, so I was willing to give the pill another try. She told me about a $9 option that Wal-Mart offers called Sprintec to women who do not have coverage on their insurance plans for contraceptives (which are a lot of women surprisingly–what's up with that?).
I was on the pill for another year to year and a half. I'm guessing due to its affordability and to the fact that it was a generic brand, Sprintec didn't offer the same skin benefits that Loestrin did. Honestly, it made the pill's luster dim quite a bit for me. I was finding it hard to keep up with wanting to wake up at 6 A.M. every day to take a pill, especially during times of droughts where I was abstaining from sex.
The ritual of taking one every day, 365 days a year was boring.
The things we must do as women…
Although I completely understand that life comes with its share of big pills to swallow, I still haven't gotten over how many annoying things come with being a woman. Birth control being one of them. It's one of those necessary evils to counteract aspects of nature that we wish to prolong or inhibit. Some women use birth control to help with painful periods, some take them to regulate irregular periods, and some to stop Mother Nature for doing its thing and making babies. I'm very much in the latter part of birth control intents and purposes. I think through trial and tribulation, I'm finally going to settle on oral again. Ever since a lot more health insurance plans are required to cover out of pocket expenses for birth control due to the Affordable Care Act, it's a little easier to get what it is I'm looking for, without settling for its discounted counterpart.
The third time's the charm, right? Let us hope and pray.
Have you struggled with your contraceptive measures too? Share your stories below, let's make this a contraceptive circle.