It’s getting to the point in time now where I’ll be heading off to university in a matter of months (provided I get the grades), so I’ve been thinking what the best option will be for me next year. Now I’m no fan of non-bio-identical hormones due to the side effects and the cancer risks associated with them, but when it comes to our sexual/reproductive health, these seem to be the most effective options. Yes condoms are around 97% effective when used correctly, but they often aren’t, and when everything is taken into account, this number drops to around 80%; better than nothing,but nowhere near the level most of us want. Plus, let’s be honest, there’s always the chance of a drunken night out where things do not go to plan (I believe most of you have seen the film “Knocked Up”), and I will be damned if I’m the ironic person who gets pregnant on a midwifery course. At least with some sort of contraception I’ll only be worrying about the possibilities of an STI.
Naturally I wanted more information, so I turned to one of the many free clinics available to under 25’s in this country and rather luckily for me, the nearest was virtually opposite my road. (If you don’t have a clue where yours is, you can follow this link to find out http://www.nhs.uk/service-search/sexual-health-information-and-support/locationsearch/734) Now I’m quite a confident person, but I was nervous when I walked in. I had all of the “what if they judge me?”, “what if I see someone I know?”, “why am I doing this again?” questions running through my head. Yet the minute I walked in I was put at ease, the staff were friendly and polite, everyone was doing their own thing, be it chatting with their other half, laughing with their parents, or like me, attempting a Unit 4 chemistry past paper.
When it was my turn I followed a lovely nurse into the treatment room, sat down and and began to discuss what I was after as well as a brief medical history- which is where the PCOS comes into play. Oestrogen dominance immediately ruled out the option of the combined pill, contraceptive patch, and the vaginal ring since they all contain high levels of the hormone. These options were also only suitable if you had a BMI under 30 which meant I was doubly ruled out. There are also options like the female condom or the cap/diaphragm, but frankly they’re a bit too fiddly for me.
So it looked like my options were the Progesterone Only Pill (POP)/ Mini-Pill, the Depo-provera injection, Nexplanon implant or a Coil (aka IUD or IUS). After further discussion about my future schedule, the likelihood of night shifts and my general lack of organisation, it was decided that one of the more long-term options would be best, with the POP being used as a last resort. Next we ruled out the contraceptive injection since it takes the longest to regain fertility and can lead to severe weight gain and ovarian cysts, which I think we can all agree is not a great option for a woman with PCOS. We then spoke about the Beta-Thalassaemia trait and how that may affect my options, at the moment it looks like it doesn’t but they’re going to get back to me regarding the implant and the anaemia. If there is a negative interaction between the two I still have the option of the coil (either the progesterone IUS or the copper IUD), although I won’t lie, I have heard some horror stories and it really will be a last resort.
And that is the rather long story (even though it actually took less than an hour) of how I came to be on the POP until my implant date. Now obviously I haven’t had the implant yet, so there may be some hideous side-effects, but one ‘pro’ is that it can be removed immediately if this is the case. It’s also long term and will see me through-out the three year duration of uni.
I think the main thing to take away from this that taking care of your reproductive health is important, and it’s even more vital to get informed and pick the best option for you, regardless of whether the majority of women use it. Don’t be afraid of going to clinics and talking to your doctor, because I think most of us would prefer a few minutes of awkwardness over an accidental pregnancy or a load of horrid side-effects any day.
A bit of a different post today, but I think it’s important none-the-less,
until next time,