Wednesday, May 12, 2010

this one's for the ladies

This post is about birth control. If this topic makes you queasy for any reason, I recommend you Google kittens and come back tomorrow, when I hope to have posted a recipe for vegan banana pecan muffins. ;)

So. Birth control! Today I had my yearly exam with the lady doctor, and inquired about switching my birth control method. I've been on the pill for about ten years now and while it has been effective, I wondered whether it was the best option for me. I was considering an IUD, but my doctor told me that unless you already have one child, the IUD is not recommended as there is a small chance you can get an infection, resulting in infertility. I am not planning on having children, ever, but I don't want to be infertile, so that kind of dampened my enthusiasm. Then my doctor told me about Implanon. Basically, Implanon is a small tube the size of a matchstick, inserted in your arm, which is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. It's estrogen free (so good for people with migraines) and - best of all - you have to get it replaced every THREE YEARS. No pill to take, no ring to insert, no regular shots, and the rod is barely noticeable under your skin. Sounds great, right?

There is, of course, the usual list of possible side effects, most of which are also applicable to the pill and don't appear to be too terribly common. I did a little researching this afternoon, and most of what I saw were complaints from users who did not have a good experience with Implanon. Now, I know that people tend to vocalize their bad experiences much more than their good ones, so I don't know how slanted these posts and comments are. This is where you, fellow uterus possessors, come in.

Do you or have you used Implanon? Do you know anyone who has? Have you considered it? Have you ever even heard about it? Is there a particular form of birth control I'm overlooking, which you're totally in love with? And last, but certainly not least, do you have any horror stories the Internet should know about? I want some honest feedback from reliable sources before I go implanting something into my arm, so thank you in advance!


  1. I have been using the NuvaRing for about a year and a half now, after a decade on the pill (either Ortho or Lo Ovral). I'm so happy that I made this switch. I really haven't considered nor do I really want to consider anything more invasive.

  2. I've been on the pill for a decade too! I've had some friends who didn't have great experiences with the NuvaRing. While an implant is certainly invasive in one sense, in another it's actually less so. The birth control goes straight into your blood, unlike the pill, which has to get metabolized through your stomach and liver first.

    It's good to hear something positive about NuvaRing though! I love having choices. ;)

  3. I can't use birth control pills, the Nuva Ring, etc. They all mess me up pretty bad. All that I can say about this implant is make sure you can get it removed whenever you want or need to. Make sure it will not have long term effects once it's removed. I've had this problem with a shot birth control and it took MONTHS for the effects to go away and they were all bad. I didn't take it well and it lasted way longer than the actual shot. Be safe and read all that you can. Good and bad.

  4. Bobbie - Implanon can be removed at any time (though removal, I've read, is a little trickier than insertion). One of the nice things about this vs. the shot is that - as you said - the shot takes a while to get out of your system. If you want to get pregnant, it could take months after you stop taking the shot. With Implanon, you can get pregnant almost immediately after removal, so I'm thinking lingering side effects won't be too much of an issue.

    I'm not sold yet, but I'm leaning towards giving this is a try. If I hate it, I can always get it removed and go back to the pill. Thanks for your input!

  5. i'm a HUGE fan of the fertility awareness method. taking your temp every morning when you wake up, checking mucus, charting it all... & presto! knowing the few days to a week every month that you should avoid having unprotected sex & being able to have all the unprotected sex you want all the other days. it does mean that if you want to have sex every day you'll have to use condoms or some barrier method when you are fertile. but seriously, it's one of the best decisions i've ever made in my life. three years now with no babies, no hormones, no science or medical intervention at all, & no side effects. if you're interested you should check out the book "taking charge of your fertility". i don't feel like i knew ANYTHING about women's fertility until i read that book. (end of sales pitch, haha.)

  6. I am going to kill your blog. I wrote an ultra-long comment and it disappeared. Oy. Oh well.

    1-Implanon sounds a lot like Norplant, which I have heard tell of hideous reactions to (beyond allergies), but it may be the product has evolved and thus the new name? It does seem extremely invasive though because you can't insert or removie it yourself (how is it removed??).

    2-Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) is a great method, but it's a lot of work, which means it is out for ultra lazy people like me. It should not be confused with the Rhythm Method. As Finn notes, it's totally hormone-free and non-invasive. I have a great book about it that every woman should read, but what I gathered from it was that it's a lot better for what the book calls "Pergnancy Achievement" than "Pregnancy Avoidance." If you truly want to conceive a child and are having trouble doing so, FAM is a grazillion times better than hormone therapies.

    3-You know what is low hormones, non-invasive (by definition!), and totally good for lazy people? Pull out method. I know it's not Fort Knox-level security, but it's a lot more effective than the press it get says. Still, I wouldn't use it if pregnancy were a concern/totally undesired.

    4- Even though my experience with NuvaRing was major decreased libido, I still think it is the best hormone therapy out there because it is very low hormones, very little work, and you can take it out at any time yourself! Maybe you can get a free sample from your doctor and try it for a month.

    5-If you do try Implanon, can you be persuased to review it for us?

  7. Implanon is similar to Norplant, but much improved (from what I read). To remove the implant, you go back to your doctor and they pull it out with a needle contraption. I have heard that it's harder to get out than to get in, due to scar tissue buildup.

    I don't trust myself enough to use FAM, but it does sound ideal for people who are good at that sort of thing!

    We actually combine pull out with the pill. What can I say. I'm paranoid!

    I might reconsider the Nuvaring. If I hate it, I can always take it out!

    Thanks for your input, Mary T! (And Finn!)

  8. I will note that NuvaRing worked great for me for about the first 3 or so months I was on it and the decreased libido could have had other contributing factors. The good news is, like the pill you only fill the nuvaring scrip one month at a time and when I removed it, my libido returned right away. I am obviously not trying to be an ad for a drug company, but I do want to note how very low the stakes are!

    After nuvaring, we went back to condoms for awhile, but that seemed kind of funny to us. We had been in a committed relationship a long time (I think maybe we had been married over a year even?) and it was just such a hassle. I would not be a good person to talk to teens about why they should use them every time. Ha! Well, maybe my younger self who was a super condom cheerleader.

  9. P.S. Yes! I have something more to add! The book Finn is talking about is the one I am talking about, too. I missed her mention of it when I read earlier. Even if you have no interest in FAM, "Taking Control of Your Fertility" is a FANTASTIC book. Highly recommended. And you can borrow mine. :)

  10. i agree with mary, the book is great whether you want to do FAM or not.

    also, i should note that i pretty much never take my temperature or chart fluids. after a few months i got to know my incredibly-regular cycle well enough that i just wing it. which means i can't have unprotected sex quite as much as i could if i charted really well, but i have a general idea of times in my cycle when it's safe to have unprotected sex. so whether i actually do FAM or not is debatable, but it's based on what i learned from it. (but it's weird to advertise the lazy version, since of course if i got pregnant it would be my fault, not the method's.)

    chrissy, i am surprised the idea of making charts isn't the most exciting thing ever to you. haha. more of a list gal, huh?

  11. Are you kidding me?? Are you seriously advising the pull out method as a form of contraception?? How ridiculous is that? Have you heard of pre ejaculation? This too cause pregnancy. And the fact that the so called feminist educated author of this blog goes on to say she combines this methos with the pill is beyond stupid. Here's hoping no young tennagers stumble across this blog looking for advice on contraception because all they're going to get here is a bunch of people spouting rubbish about things they don't understand.

  12. Liz,
    Mary T quite clearly states that the pull out method is not advisable for people who are serious about avoiding pregnancy. She wrote that as a married woman who desires children - context here is everything!

    I am not sure why combining the pull out method with the pill is beyond stupid. At the most, it is simple paranoia on my part. My number one goal with contraception is avoid getting knocked up. I've been in a committed, monogamous relationship for the last nine years, so STIs and HIV is not a concern at this point in my life. In the past, it was, and during that period I used condoms religiously.

    Lastly, I highly doubt young teenagers will find this post and base their reproductive choices on the comment section. My blog is small, as far as blogs go, and gets very few hits from people Googling contraception. That said, I don't feel that this post and the comments that follow are "rubbish" - I think there is value in knowing the experiences and ideas of other people and appreciating and respecting the full scope of reproductive choices - even the ones you don't agree with. I personally would never rely solely on the pull out method, but if a friend of mine finds it works for her (based on her own needs and desires) then cheers to her.

    Thanks for your comment. I am always interested in the views of others. I ask only that you try to keep it civil. Any future comments containing disrespectful language (including "stupid") will be deleted.

  13. Comments are back on this post, FYI! I'm glad. I like this discussion!