I had no plans to write this blog, but I heard something on Newsbeat today when I was driving home about a girl who had passed away from a blood clot, caused by her contraceptive pill, and it really got me thinking about how dangerous contraceptives can be, and how we are not always given the full story about what we are pumping our bodies with on a daily basis.
The majority of us have probably taken the pill at some point in our life, and I’m sure generations will continue to take it after us, and I definitely haven’t had an easy ride when it comes to contraceptives.
I read this blog from Hannah Gale a few months back, and although I do not applaud her friends for ‘risking’ having a baby, I can see where they are coming from. When I first decided to go on the pill at 16, there were some risks that I had to come to terms with before I chose the one that is right for me.
Without going into too much detail (I’m sure many of us know this anyway) there are two types of pills that a girl can take – the combined pill and the mini pill (progestogen-only). As there was a history of deep vein thrombosis in my family, I had to have a series of blood tests to see whether I could, in fact, have the combined pill with no complications at all, or whether it would make more sense to explore the other routes available. Whilst I waited to see what the doctor suggested, they put me on Noriday and see how my body reacted to it as I was also prone to migraines.
A few months later I went for my blood pressure and all-round check-up and everything seemed to be as it should be so I carried on with the mini pill for a few more months (or so I remember, it was almost 9 years ago…. wow, old) As most of my friends were on Microgynon, I thought why not try it seen as they had told me at the doctors that I would not have any problems if I were to go on the combined pill, and hey two pregnancy stopping hormones are better than one! So I proceeded with the ‘evil pill’ as I now call it. For those who don’t know, Microgynon works by taking it daily for 3 weeks and then having a ‘pill-free week’ where you get your period (sorry if you’re reading this boys!). But I had problems with this pill as I was getting a migraine every time I had my ‘pill-free week’ and as it isn’t recommended to take more than three months’ worth of pills in a row, I then had to come off it.
Having tried two or three more combined pills (all of which gave me severe migraines) I decided to go back to square one with my trusted Noriday. By this point, I’m pretty sure my body hated me so much and carried on giving me migraines as a punishment for being so curious about my birth control in the first place… So I had some more blood tests, did some research, and decided to go down the road of long-term solutions.
By this point, I was 19, and in my first year at Nottingham Trent and obviously not thinking of a baby any time soon. Although switching doctors was a bigger hassle than it needed to be, the staff at my new clinic were all lovely and really knew what they were talking about. After speaking to a nurse for about 45 minutes, she said the best thing for me would be the contraceptive injection. Boy was she wrong…
A couple of weeks after having my first injection (you were meant to have one every 12 weeks) I had put on about half a stone and my hair was coming out in clumps. At the time I thought I was just over-eating as a coping mechanism for being unhappy at university, and that my hair was falling out because of stress and not having the best diet, but after moving home, and joining the gym, the weight just wouldn’t shift and my hair continued to shed (not my finest look…)
For months I didn’t put two and two together that it could be my contraceptive that was giving me the problems – I wasn’t having migraines, so for the first time I thought my body was ready to forgive me! Then one day after work, I remember googling the name of the injection, Depo-Provera I believe, and there were so many forums of teenage girls, and girls in their early 20’s who had all had the same problems that I had which is when it finally clicked.
The next day I went to the doctors and told them about the problems I was having. By this point, I had had about 3 injections, and although that may have not been enough time for my body to adjust to the new hormones swimming around my veins, they did believe that the hair loss and weight gain were due this. They sent me for some more blood tests to ensure this was the real reason, but they advised me not to have any more. The annoying thing about that was it took my body about another 8 weeks to get back to normal after the last injection had worn off. So all in all, I had more problems for just under a year, and what a year that was!
Obviously, this whole blog post is related to me, and my body and health and it is important to remember that everyone is different. I know girls who have been on the combined pill for almost 10 years and people who have never tried anything. It completely depends on what is right for you. Because of my history of migraines, and all the problems I had during my quest to find contraceptive, my nurse advised me to try a Mirena coil (or IUS), which I won’t bore you with, but you can find more details here. Although the initial stage hurt like a b****, I have had no problems for over 4 years, which for someone with my past, was so god damn refreshing!
This post may have been an absolute overshare of my life, but I think it is important for young girls, actually girls of any age for that matter, to really know their family history and be aware of what they are pumping into their body. And if the pill isn’t right for you, there are definitely other options available. You just have to ask. Some doctors are reluctant to talk about other options because it costs the NHS more, and Microgynon is the cheaper alternative, but there are other options that don’t involve a trip to your local GP.
Although I was very lucky to be told early on about my family history of blood clots, I think it is important for girls to get blood tests before they take anything, just to make sure. Unfortunately, there has been a young girl who has lost her life, and this has really opened my eyes to how beneficial it was to have my family behind me. Maybe some girls are right in hedging their bets in the baby making process to not take the pill. Could the risk be better than pumping our bodies full of chemicals that counteract the sole purpose of having sex in the first place?
Every girl is completely different. Something that doesn’t work for me, might be the best option for you. Remember, I am not a doctor! x