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Contraceptive Options – Know Before You Act! (Birth Control)

Options of Preventing Pregnancy

So you may wonder why I have such an odd “non-related” topic on my blog – but in reality, the likelihood is if you’re pregnant, that you’re not going to be getting your period, so I guess in a way, it IS a related matter, lol. What inspired me to write this little blog post (and yes it will be “little” because there is just way too much to cover) is that I was listening on the radio on the drive to work and one of the hosts mentioned that in Canada, they found that many women are actually unaware of the many contraceptive choices that are available to them. I would dare wager that the 2 most well-known contraceptive methods are the pill and condoms. I have done my best to do proper research, but feel free to correct me if mistakes are found as I am more than happy to learn, particularly from those with anecdotal experiences. I have yet to be with a girl who uses such contraception, particularly with a lack of knowledge about the pill and administering techniques other than by hearsay, so my knowledge may be iffy on that.

So many contraceptive choices!! What do you do?

So many contraceptive choices!! What do you do?

Suffice to say, while those two methods are well-known and used by many who choose not to have children at the moment (or never), they are not the only options available at this day in age. In this entry, I hope to gain some insight myself and also help open the world of contraceptive options to men and women. Where do men come into play? Well obviously contraceptive choices between couples or consenting adults is recommended when there is no intention to cause pregnancy. I should mention before I start this post that I’ll be concentrating on avoiding pregnancy in this posting, but should point out that most contraception forms do not protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD).

Birth Control Pill (or “the pill”):

The basis of “the pill” is to prevent ovulation through a mixture of hormones, estrogen and progesterone. By suppressing ovulation, there is no egg released by the ovaries to to be fertilized by male sperm, therefore eliminating the risk of becoming pregnant. In addition to inhibiting the ovulation process, the pill also works by thickening the mucus around the cervix, reducing the likelihood that sperm is able to enter the uterus in the event that a female egg has already been released. Due to the combination of hormones present in the pill, even if fertilization does occur, the changes to the uterus lining much harder for the fertilized egg to attach to the uterus wall.

Most of “the pill” packages come in a 21 or 28 day-use cycle. The pill is administered orally (I should make that clear that “orally” means through the MOUTH) daily and at the same time every day. Users of the 21-day pack is taken 21 days continuously where the user will then stop for 7 days before starting the next 21-day pack. Users of the 28-day pack will continue to take all the pills in the package, but the last 7 pills of the cycle are actually hormone-less, usually called a placebo, which really has no effect on the body other than maintaining regularity and familiarity in maintaining the habit of taking the pill daily. If a single dose is missed (other than the placebo pills), then the chances of contraceptive protection drops considerably, so it is imperative that the pill be taken effectively. For women who start using “the pill” – it takes up to 7 days for it to take effect, therefore those who are sexually active within that 7-day window should continue to use alternate contraceptive methods such as a condom.

There are variants of “the pill” (such as progesterone-only), and your health-care professional will be able to give you the best advice on which suits you the best. There are of course benefits and risks for using “the pill” and making it important for you to consult a professional and to research what is in your best interest to use as contraception. For some women, the use of “the pill” is highly discouraged if they have certain medical conditions, so “the pill” is not recommended for everyone. There are also emergency contraceptives, such as “Plan B” for those “oopsies, we had unprotected sex” scenarios that prevent an embryo from attaching the the uterus wall after fertilization. “The pill” requires a prescription to acquire, but “Plan B” is available over-the-counter.

Birth Control Pills

Birth Control Pills

Contraceptive Patch

The contraceptive patch works similarly to “the pill” by delivering the combined hormones through the skin. A “bandage-like” adhesive is applied to the abdomen, buttocks, upper arm or upper torso. The scheduled usage of the product is like “the pill” and carries generally the same benefits and negative side effects, only that the method of which the hormones enter the body is different.

Contraceptive Patch

Contraceptive Patch

Intrauterine Devices

IUD’s are devices implanted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. These “T-shaped” devices can be left in the uterus for several years and are usually composed from plastic and copper. Recent ‘enhancements’ to IUD’s also allow them to be loaded with a hormone-containing device which slowly release hormones over time to help alter the menstrual cycle and suppress conception. The IUD acts as a “physical barrier” which hinders the ability for sperm to meet with an egg and also due to a foreign object (the IUD) irritating the uterus lining, it prevents an embryo from implanting onto the uterus wall. This device is not suitable for those who have reactions to copper as it may cause increase menstrual cramps and flow. On the contrary, hormone-releasing variations of the IUD have been known to reduce menstrual flow and regulate periods. Nevertheless IUD’s have the potential of being pushed out of the vagina due to natural contractions. IUD’s are a great contraceptive choice if a user wants to be able to quickly become fertile again (assuming one was fertile in the first place). IUD’s should be implanted with the skills of an expert practitioner.

Intrauterine Device

Intrauterine Device

Vaginal Ring

The vaginal ring works similarly to “the pill” by delivering the combined hormones through the vagina. A “ring-like” device is inserted into the vaginal which stops ovulation, thickens cervical mucus and creates a barrier to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. The scheduled usage of the product is like “the pill” and carries generally the same benefits and negative side effects, only that the method of which the hormones enter the body is different. It is possible for the ring to fall out and may cause vaginal irritation. If the ring is left outside the body for more than 3 hours, pregnancy once against becomes a risk and requires a 7-day window to become effective again. The vaginal ring can be inserted/removed without professional intervention.

Vaginal Ring

Vaginal Ring

Contraceptive Injections

Contraceptive injections containing synthetic hormones can be absorbed into the body via intramuscular injection. The hormones contained within prevent ovulation, thickens the mucus in the cervix and also makes the womb lining thinner to prevent an embryo from attaching to the uterus wall. Initial injections prevented pregnancy from 8 to 12 weeks, however, newer shots are said to last up to several months. Unfortunately, because hormones are injected directly into the body, they may stay resident in the body for up to 2 years, therefore resuming fertility is not as fast as other methods. Also, there have been riskier “aftermaths” even after discontinued use of contraceptive injections. With the use of contraceptive injections, menstrual periods completely stop (other than spot-bleeding) and do not become regular until a year or more of discontinued use of the product.

Contraceptive Injection

Contraceptive Injection

Implants

Capsules which release fertility-inhibiting hormones were implanted into a woman’s arm which could prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years. It was highly effective, however, side-effects were not properly communicated to customers which resulted in several class-action lawsuits. I’m not going to talk a lot about this method since it has been pulled off the shelves in North America.

Contraceptive Implants

Contraceptive Implants

Diaphragm

A diaphragm is the “female equivalent” of a condom, a barrier contraceptive method. A diaphragm is a latex or silicon device shaped in a dome which is inserted into the vagina to “block off” the contact of sperm and a released egg. Just like a condom, a diaphragm is inserted prior to sexual intercourse, however, unlike a condom, the device should be left in the vagina for another 6 to 8 hours (although debated due to lack of evidence/conclusion) from the last male ejaculation within the vagina. It is common that spermicide be applied to the rim and/or dome of the diaphragm prior to insertion. Diaphragms can be reused as long as they are properly cleansed and can be reused immediately if required. Care should be taken to avoid contact with oil, whether it is oil-based vaginal medication of lube as it causes the deterioration of the diaphragm. Depending on the material used to make the diaphragm, it may be used from anywhere between 1 to 10 years.

A fitting appointment is recommended with your health-care professional to assist in finding a diaphragm that fits each woman’s size and needs. Whether a diaphragm is too large or too small may affect the woman’s health and may increase the risk of pregnancy if a seal is not properly formed. The diaphragm covers the cervix and physically prevents sperm from entering the uterus. It should be noted that like tampons, diaphragms are susceptible to causing TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) when it is worn for periods of greater than 24 hours. A diaphragm does not affect future fertility opportunity and does not affect hormones or regular menstrual cycle in any way.

Diaphragm

Diaphragm

Closing

I hope this helps shed some light on the various birth-control options for everyone. For those of us who are in relationships, please be reminded that birth-control is not a one-sided decision and it’s best made with both parties involved. If you are having sex outside of a monogamous relationship, then it’s a totally different story. While it is rightful and legal for a woman to make a sole decision on birth-control methods, please do be considerate and include or at least consult with her partner on his/her feelings and objectives.

Your choice of birth-control may have irreversible or long-term effects, thus, it is advisable to also seek the opinion of your health-care professional. Also, some medical conditions you may have may exempt you from the opportunity to safely utilize some of these methods. There are many risks and rewards to using the above options and I have hardly even touched on the advantages and side-effects of the choices. It is also in your best interest to do prior research and then consult your medical specialist to help make the best decision, fitting to your scenario.

Toxic Shot Syndrome (No, not SHOCK, shot!)

Found a great article written by morgueticiaatoms on the dangers of using anti-contraceptive shots. I am a big believer that some things are better left to nature, for instance, using non-invasive forms of contraceptive protection such as condoms and not tampering with your body’s hormonal functions by using things such as the pill. I understand some women might need these for medical reasons, but some do it out of convenience or reassurance. Nevertheless, tampering with your body needlessly is always a dangerous game to play and only one of my girls uses birth control pills and I’ve been trying to get her off it. It severely messed with her body, causing her to lose her period for 5 months in a row. Consequently, she practically had to induce her period to get her back to schedule. Even to today, I don’t know if her body has fully recovered and gone back to a regular monthly cycle. I feel bad for her! Having read related blogs, I’ve also noticed 4-5 other women on WordPress who have had very adverse effects using anti-contraceptive shots. One, had her period for a month, daily, starting/beginning with no pattern even AFTER she stopped using it and has taken her 2 years to rid the body of such effects.

Since I’m playing Bright Shadow at the moment, I can’t type out a full-out entry. Having received permission from the owner of the following entry, I want to post it for all the women out there to think twice and seriously seek medical consultation before using any type of hormonal-altering drug/injection.

Please note: With one of my previous posts where I reposted someone’s content… readers thought of it as my own. I am not the author of the following portions between the QUOTES, all credits belong to the respective author. Thank you!

Toxic shot syndrome

WARNING/DISCLAIMER: I am going to vent about MY experiences with the contreptive known as Depo Provera so this is not for men, children, enthusiasts,puritans,or anyone else who is easily grossed out, offended or influenced. I reiterate (for all the good it will do me) that this blog entry is based on MY experiences and mine alone and is NOT a medical commentary, anti or pro, or meant in any way to be anyone’s final deciding factor. I may toss in some things I have read or been told or simply heard but my opinion is based entirely and solely on what occurred during my use of this drug. ‘Nuff said.

A little informative just-so-you-know history. I had my first child back in August at age 36. Prior to that, I had been off all hormonal contraception since I experienced a blood clot issue with the pill in 90’s. Other than that (very serious) issue, the pill worked fine for me and was without any major side effects.

At my six week post partum exam, the nurse in my ob/gyn’s office broached the subject of birth control with me. I explained my insurance didn’t cover IUD’s. Ok, what about the pill..No go. So she suggests Depo, with the ever positive chirpy “It will make your periods go away.” Well, I have painful periods so this sounded good to me and it was something I could get from the health department or my second insurance. I talked to hubby about it, did some on line research, even talked to someone (my stepmother) who had been on Depo for over ten years and still laments about how they forced her off it onto the pill. Any time I found a potentially nasty side effect, hubby would attempt to soothe me with a reminder of how “that’s just how it was for one person” or “they have to include every single side effect even if it only happened to one person.”

Ok, so even though hubby was willing to continue with condoms, I missed the sponteneity and experience of no condom so I pondered on the Depo some more. I had really adored this nurse in my ob’s office, she was always so bright and sweet and good about making me feel less embarrassed about whatever current indignity the pregnancy had brought upon me. She also knew of my long history with depression and anxiety and the fact I was on disability for it and had been unable to be medicated for the duration of the pregnancy. (I was having breakdown towards month 8 and they decided there was less risk to put me back on certain meds than to leave me unmedicated.) So I didn’t think she would steer me wrong knowing my history.

I talked to our primary care doctor about a script for Depo and administering it in his office and he was cool with it. November 29, I got my first shot. All the peppy nurse jabbing me could talk about was how great it was that it made your periods go away and how other patients loved it so much. I resisted my doomsayer urges and chose to operate on hubby’s “hope for the best’ attitude.

Within a couple of weeks, I knew I had made a horrible mistake. It was as if whatever was in the depo cancelled my meds. I was more depressed than ever in  spite of anti depressant dosage increases. I was more jumpy,in spite of being on Xanax. Suddenly, my lethargy was increased times ten. I felt fat, gross, and like life was an utter waste of time.

My former shrink just cheerfully remarked, “It could have gone the other way and helped your depression…But it’s not the zoloft, you just don’t want it to work.” Which is why he’s my former shrink, I was almost suicidal and homicidal and he didn’t care and wouldn’t listen.

I didn’t even bother calling the primarcy care doctor, he’s rarely in the office and it took him 4 months to get back hubby’s bloodwork and even then, there was no call, no explanation, just a referral letter to a place we don’t even know takes our insurance on a date we don’t even know if hubby can go on in a town the car isn’t fit to drive to. Useless there.

And the worst part was…I had a period for 5 weeks after the first shot, 2 weeks off, another 4 weeks on, one week off, another two on, and now since I didn’t get the second shot it seems to have stopped for the time being.It was relentless, I never knew what was going on with my body on any given day because it would start, stop, almost go away, then come back. I essentially traded feeling really crappy one week a month for feeling mildly crappy 4 weeks a month. On what planet is that a good trade off?

I guess I’ve gained weight, my mom says I have, but hubby says he doesn’t see it. I’ve always been heavy so I don’t really look any different to myself and my clothes still fit plus I drink a lot of soda so if the weight is there it could be the depo, the soda, the psych meds, all of combined, I just don’t know.

I do know I am suddendly shedding hair more than I ever have in my life. I can’t brush it over the sink or the sink looks like a beauty parlor floor after every member of every 80’s hairband got their hair cut off.

The anger is what has been so staggering. The only other time I felt this mad at everything for no apparent reason was during pregnancy. And what does that have in common with depo? HORMONES. My body apparently cannot process excess hormones well. There have been moments of such intense anger during the last 3 months, I was almost afraid of myself, it felt like it was burning me from the inside out. And rarely over anything valid.

In my quest to avoid getting pregnant and lose the painful periods, I had essentially allowed myself to be injected with a chemical that made me devoid of who I know myself to be.

I cannot think of a single benefit of being on depo. I’d rather have 3 days of excrutiating cramps and a period than 4 weeks of mild cramps and a guess-if-we’re-going-to-need-a-pad-today lottery.

And even though it didn’t kill my sex drive physically, it made me feel so utterly gross physically and mentally that I had to force myself to allow the sexy feelings to happen. Shortly before getting on depo I had read how in certain religions and cultures the men are not allowed to see their women during their time of the month as they are considered “dirty”. And while that has nothing to do with my and my marriage, it still aided in the whole Depo tainted thing because I felt dirty every single day of the month. Even when I wasn’t on a period of some sort (light, heavy, spotting) I was living in terror of it just reappearing at any time. I’ve never felt more disgusting in my life.

I am very fortunate to have such a loving, accepting husband who happens to find me sexy and beautiful even when the rest of the world would say ewwwww, when even I would say ewwww.

I think from about the 3rd week on Depo, I told hubby NO MORE EVER AGAIN.

I have read a thousand posts on depo related message boards from women with horror stories as well as women who think depo is better than sliced bread. On one hand, if you have endometriosis and this drug pretty much cures it, then it can’t be an entirely bad medicine. On the other hand, how many women like me were lured in with the selling points (no pregnancy, no period) but not told of the potentially horrendous side effects and how it would alter not just our body, but our mind?

I know firsthand that one drug can be a lifesaver for one person and the downfall for thousands (my xanax, for example, keeps me sane and functional but for some the addictiveness is a killer) and I would not want anyone to take it away from me because it is the only thing that has ever worked. So for this reason, I will not say Depo is without its merits. For me, it was toxic.

I read one post where a woman claimed all depo haters were just women who’d had a bad experience and were angry. With the suicidal urges it provoked in me and knowing this could have been prevented, yeah, I’m pretty angry, but I am angry at the plethora of health care providers who all knew my extensive history and the side effects of this drug and did not warn me. I have found a hundred different things on line warning that this drug is bad choice for anyone with a long history of depression and yet it was given to me with the ease of candy, in spite of two nurses and three doctors knowing my full history.It almost feels like they were playing a lottery and just hoping it would “go the other way” and help my problems.

The fact that I lost 3 months of my baby’s life because I was feeling crappy, suicidally depressed, etc, pisses me off. I can never get that time back, ever. All these people had to do-just one of them- was say, “There’s a chance this could make your depression worse, are you sure you want to take it?” Just that much and I would have known better.

It’s the fact that I was clueless and that whatever concern I shared (even with hubby) was downplayed and responded to as if I were being histrionic and dramatic.

In 2000, I was on an MAOI anti depressant. It came with side effects and a strict restriction of foods but it worked for me and I was willing to risk it for that. After inadvertantly eating cheese, I wound up in the hospital for a week, no one knowing if I would live or die. I did not sue anyone, did not desire to sue anyone because I went in with eyes wide open, had been told of the potential risks, and had accepted the responsibility.

I cursed only my own stupidity in not making sure food given to me by others didn’t contain one of foods that caused the interaction. mY FAULT.

I’ve been told this is my fault for not doing more research. How could I have when I looked things up on line, addressed the issues with professionals, and was brushed off? It’s not like I didn’t care and didn’t try, but I trusted these people to tell me if I was making a bad choice based on medical knowlege they had and I didn’t.

Another thing I did not like, at all, about Depo, was the ambiguity. With no regular period, it left you paranoid each and every day that you were pregnant in spite of the birth control. We are trained as girls to watch for that “missing” period, but if you never have one or always have one, what then?

I still seethe over all the posts when someone listed that as a con. “If you have a period, you’re not pregnant.”

“No birth control is 100%,take a urine test.”

This is the confusion I mean. It’s confusing enough to be told if you miss a period you could be pregnant but you could still be pregnant if you have a period. Depo thrown into the mix just turns it into a skull crushing headache.

BTW,what most women are not told, including me, is that it often takes up to a year of depo injections before you are totally rid of your period. (If then.) I was told by the second month it’d be gone. WRONG.

Maybe I could have read the warning insert if my insurance hadn’t substituted a generic drug and left it out.

I still think the doctors had a responsibility to warn me.

And the worst thing about it is…once you get that shot, you can’t have it removed. You can not get another one, but you are still left with an indeterminate amount of time in which to deal with the aftermath. This is not temporary or simple. I suppose if it works for you as it is supposed to the letter it becomes the dream drug but I wish those women would have a little empathy to those of us it didn’t work out well for. I’m not cussing them for having a good experience with it, I don’t understand why some of these pro-depo posters have so much venom toward the women depo has screwed up.

I am willing to see both sides here and concede a complete ban on Depo would not be the answer since it seems to help many. But the doctors need to better educate and warn women and make sure they are made aware of the potential risks and side effects. (Some doctors still won’t acknowlege the loss of bone density due to long term depo use, when even the manufacturer came out and admitted to it.) I swear some of these doctors can see no further than “this woman doesn’t need another kid,let’s get her on whatever birth control method we can even if it hurts her”.

There is one thing I will no falter on that concerns depo:IT SHOULD NOT EVER BE ADMNINISTERED TO A WOMAN WHO HAS JUST OR RECENTLY  GIVEN BIRTH.

The entire process of pregnancy, labor, and childbirth takes such a toll on our bodies that it can be up to a year before nature’s intentions are back to prebaby normal. The last thing any harried new mom needs to be worrying about are being able to stay awake or get up with her baby or why is she so angry all the time,is it the depo or post baby horomone irregularities. I think it should be standard practice (if not a law) that depo cannot be prescribed to any woman who is not at, minimum, six months post childbirth, if not a year after. Because I honestly have no idea how much of this is normal and being amplified by depo or if it is just the depo. I know this is not who I was pre depo, not even in the three months of getting up with the baby two or three times a night did I feel this lousy. None of these issues started until after the depo, which makes me believe it is all depo related, and probably worsened because it was adminstered to me when my hormones were all still askew from baby.

You can read me the riot act on that one, but I stand by it. Let doctors get individual waivers from women who want the depo anyway, but as a  general rule, especially in women who have never used depo before, it should not given until things have normalized. How else will you know if what you are experiencing is a side effect from the chemical hormones or what is just normal hormones returning.

I wish I still had the link but I don’t. I was reading for days this UK site about the experiences women had had with depo and it was mind boggling how many of them spoke of revulsion when approached by their husbands for sex and yet pre-depo they’d been very interested. I wonder if women realize that depo provera is essentially what is used as chemical castration for male sex offenders. It kills your sex drive because it’s intended to do that in men, it makes sense it could happen to women,too. How great is a drug that alters you to the point of no longer enjoying what you used to like immensely?  How fair is it to couples who break up over the issues caused by depo? I think perhaps the saddest post was a pro-depo where the woman said she no longer wanted sex at all, ever, but it was okay because she no longer had periods. My periods are miserable but I will gladly take them as opposed to losing part of what makes me a vital living woman. Forget the naughty stuff, what about expressing love to your partner? How is a loss of a period remotely comparable to losing that? Just the loss of sheer closeness and emotional connection would make my life hollow.

I suppose I can’t speak for women virtually crippled by the pain of horrendous periods and endo, but is it wrong of me to want to think there has to be a better solution than sacrificing your sexuality and relationship?

Or in my case, there has GOT to be a better way than taking a drug that makes me feel like crap and wish I were dead. I have more to live for than I ever had before, so these feelings are insane.

Maybe I can’t walk into a courtroom ala Perry Mason with stacks of incriminating evidence saying it is 100% the fault of depo…but I-and my husband-know that almost none of this stuff was going on pre-depo and two plus two equals four.

Maybe my normal chemistry and postbaby askew chemicals caused the depo to react this way. I just know I did react this way and it was so not worth it. The doctors saying to give it more time are insane because it’s not their bodies being affected or their lives being ruined. Just because it didn’t happen this way for a million other women doesn’t make my experience less valid.

If you are having problems with the depo, do not let anyone make you feel insane. It has its problems and affects everyone differently. Find a new contraceptive and wait for the depo to exit your system. Don’t be bullied into taking more unless you really want to and believe it will help. There’s nothing wrong with just saying no.

We should all be forewarned, properly educated, and be allowed to make an informed choice and not be pressured by nurses, doctors, boyfriends, husbands, etc.It’s our bodies, our minds, our lives.

I look at my baby and think if the worst that can happen being off depo is I have another one of her, well, yay, because as stressful as the mom gig is at times, it is also an unmitigated joy and not as bad as what depo provera put me, my mind, my body, and my family through.

Besides which, it apparently fails just as easily as every other method of birth control so we’re deluding ourselves thinking anything short of sterilization or abstinence is fail proof. Makes you wonder why we bother at all when it’s all really just a roll of the dice. 99.9% effective seems like good odds unless you’re in the failure zone.

Frankly, unless it is 100%,I don’t think I will ever take another hormonal birth control again. Just not worth it. I miss who I used to be pre-depo and all I can do now is wait it out and see if I ever get back to normal.

I envy the women it worked for.

Soooo not worth it for me.

Source: http://moodymetalzombie.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/toxic-shot-syndrome/

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