Do you know what’s still taboo? Talking about hormones and birth control openly. It seems ok, valued even, to spout rhetoric and strong opinions about racism, equality, feminism, gender fluidity, graffiti, vaccinations, politics and even suicide and death, yet DAILY medication that almost half the population is on is never discussed, or talked about in hushed tones between women only over cups of tea in the dark of night.
Well I’ve just been through a kind of hell and the more I have spoken about it, the more secret stories have come to light. The more women who have reacted as if I have been beaten and told me to ‘GET AWAY’ from birth control that mimics and messes with your system right now. The more I am sure we are being duped. The more I have gone from feeling totally overwhelmed and disempowered to actually feeling again as if my body is my own.
This is not a scientific article, it’s not gonna be backed up by links and quotes and stats. If you want those get your google on, I did and there’s loads of info out there on forums and message board from women all over the world dealing with these same issues.
This is a rapid fire, two finger typed rant that has been brewing a while, borne of the need to tell all the people I know, that we need to talk about this more. In public. On facebook. In groups. In loungerooms. We need to make memes about this shit. When you search ‘hormone memes’ the only ones that come up are sexist bullshit about staying away from women when they are hormonal, but let me tell you, that’s not what she wants! The stereotypes in this instance are mostly true, gentle hair stroking, chocolate, flowers delivered when she least expects it, baths run for her, generally gentle and softer words and actions will help her, not staying away and calling her ‘cray’!
Now, every method of birth control is different for everyone, if I have learnt anything. Some people can be on the pill or other hormonal birth control for years and not have any side effects. She can even skip periods, go on and off it with no weight changes and have a great sex life and drive & no babies are ever born!
THIS is not the regular story though, this is elusive and whimsical and possibly not really true EVER, just like the prince on the white horse who appears and suddenly you are happy forever and ever. Also a LIE! Relationships take work, and honesty, and commitment, and confronting self reflection & are also a vehicle for the best learning and joy and sharing of a love that transcends everything else at times. They can often feel as if you are both just cleaning and feeding and watering the goddmaned horse so you can both get out of there and live that fairy tale dammit.
But I’m telling you, as a smart and street wise 36 year old who has been through a few merry go rounds and horror trains in my life, hormonal birth control is FUCKED, and it’s fucking with our children, our women, our daughters, and every aspect of their lives. And we need to talk about it.
On and off the pill when I was younger, and then the mini pill for years because it was ‘no estrogen’ which makes it sound fluffy and somehow ‘better’. But having an alarm go off every day and taking a pill when you don’t even have a current lover to even impregnate you feels pretty futile, especially if you are like me and resist taking even panadol.
So I went off it, and got pregnant, fuck. And made a choice to not go down that road on my own and went overseas and did all-the-things instead, deciding to deal with this birth control drama when I returned. Fast forward to now, 18 months with an implanon in my arm, and things were going ok. I didn’t like the constant bleeding, but as someone who is pretty adamant that children aren’t part of my big picture plan, it seemed a small price to pay for peace of mind. Small price indeed, under the Australian health system Medicare, it only cost me $3 for 3 years. Yes $3 for 3 years. Less than a soy latte to trick my body into thinking it was pregnant for 3 years, which is what implanon effectively does.
Then a month ago, things got weird. If anyone reading this knows me personally, you would know that I am many things, but depressed and overwhelmed are not two common emotions I feel. Manic perhaps, which started to happen, but not flat and barely able to get motivated to walk the dog. That’s just not how I roll, and yet it became apparent that something was wrong.
Tears multiple times a day, cramps for days on end, and a looming feeling of ‘IM NOT COPING’ that became hard to ignore. Not to mention bleeding, and emotional turmoil that left me googling late into the night trying to make sense of feeling out of sync with my body.
A week and a half ago, I had it ripped out of my arm, I was ready to do backyard surgery but they obliged at my local doctor where one doctor told me “These hardly ever work out, everyone in Europe has an IUD’ and another said ‘you can’t get anything else now because a copper IUD could risk damage to your ovaries and you haven’t had a kid yet’. Since then I have been claiming my body back, I have been on Chinese herbs, I have been gentle with myself, and I felt better almost instantly. Friends even said my voice changed that day, after corroborating my last month with ‘you have been extra manic the last month, and you didn’t seem ok’
Now I am out of the woods, I feel more ‘myself’, more able to cope, more full of joy again. But these words have been bubbling away, wanting to see the light of day.
Well anyhow, I’m writing this to tell you all some truths from me to you. Do with them what you will
- implanon is OFTEN tricky and side effects can happen anytime it’s in
- There is at least a 20% removal rate before the 3 year mark
- implanon mimics pregnancy, tricking your body into not making any babies
- every doctor will tell you something different about your options
- doctors have agendas based on personal beliefs, shop around!
- there are many non hormonal ways to not have babies
- teens as young as 13 are being implanted with this hormonal implant that MESSES with your system
- Every single woman I spoke to about this had struggled with the options and felt pretty alone in her decision
- 90% of women I spoke to REFUSE to go on any hormonal birth control of any kind – most in their 30’s.
- I have now joined this percentage.
- NOBODY talks about this with each other openly, especially men
- Men, you guys have the power to make this easier on us, to allow us to talk about it and to not gaslight us when it’s a MEDICAL reason that’s spiraling out of control
- If you are with the right person, ‘no hormones’ just becomes something else to navigate in your life together, and real men step up & support you and your choices regardless of their views
- We are kept uninformed and disempowered by the medical system
- I secretly feel this is another way to keep women subjugated, and fulfilling the ‘cray’ stereotype, when many of the women I know are strong, capable, feeling humans who OWN shit in their lives & constantly strive for more learning and understanding.
Anyhow, there are many wars going on right now. But one of them is insipid, far reaching, and will have long term effects on our bodies. This I know.
I just wanted to write this to tell others, you aren’t alone. Your body is STILL YOURS and the power is yours to decide what’s best for you. Just make sure you do your research and talk to others, your network is your best support system. If any science/health people would like to send some links or add to this please feel free.
I am implanon free and I’m never going back.