I went on birth control to take control of my body. while I got some control, I also got a little more than what I bargained for.
I remember begging my parents to let me go on birth control the summer before my freshman year in college. It wasn’t easy, but somehow I was able to convince my parents to let me see a Gynecologist. After all, I was an adult going out into the world for the first time, and I wanted to be prepared for anything. I quickly read up on all the different kinds of birth control I could find. Bedsider.org is a great resource for people trying to get some straight answers about birth control (even if it is a little too hetero-normative sometimes). I searched this site and more, trying to figure out what my best option was. I came into the gynecologist’s office sure that I was well prepared and informed. After the awkward first-timer breast exam visit was over, I talked to my step-mother’s male gynecologist. Which was even more awkward than a nurse touching my chest. He suggested Depo-Provera, commonly called “the shot”. I readily agreed, too scared of my already-precarious pill use, to try something other than the method of oral contraceptives. Depo, as I like to call it, is a progestine-only hormone injection that you get jabbed into your butt every three months. My first experience was actually a thigh-injection, and by far was waaay more painful than it out to have been, had my doctor asked me to drop my pants.
I was incredibly excited; Depo is a highly effective form of contraception, and the last thing I wanted when starting college was a pregnancy scare. I wasn’t even sexually active when I got my first injection, though that ended up changing shortly afterwards, because I finally felt safe having sex and knowing everything was going to be okay. It was really freeing, to know that if a condom broke there would be no cause for alarm ( other than STIs, which trusting monogamy has helped me avoid).
Still, there are a lot of side effects to Depo-Provera. All of these side effects have greatly impacted my sense of myself and my body. The first thing that became a big life-changer for me was the loss of my period. I have not had a real period for over two years now, all because the hormones in my body have stopped me from ovulating. This isn’t really a problem, as periods are kind of annoying, and recent science has claimed that not having periods isn’t really a bad thing. It’s just a thing. Still, it can be kind of unnerving to not get that monthly sign of “hey, you’re not pregnant”, all because of a thing that’s keeping you not-pregnant.
I also gained a TON of weight on Depo. I didn’t come into it thinking weight was going to be much of a problem, at least not anymore of a problem than other birth control methods. As it turns out, Depo is known for causing way more weight gain than other forms of birth control, because of the mass amount of the hormones they use in each injection is an estimated and standardized amount, and not exactly the right quantity tailored for everyone. in slightly more than two years, I have gained an estimated 30-40 Lbs. That is a huge change from my past weight! I went from a small to a large in what felt like overnight. While I love the freedom that comes with birth control, I still have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror and feeling good about what I see. Unfortunately, it’s going to be really hard to lose any weight until I am officially off this form of birth control. But hey, that’s only unfortunate if you think about weight as a bad thing. For now, I am just exerting more gravity on the earth than I have previously.
Overall, My experience with Depo-Provera was a positive one; I’ve never had a pregnancy scare, I’ve grown accustomed to not having a period, and a shot in the butt is an easy thing to remember. Still, if I weren’t in a committed relationship with a man, would I even have bothered to continue moderately wreaking havoc on my body? I could have easily fallen for a different-gendered person and ended up not needing birth control at all! I need to remember that coming into this birth-control experience, I wasn’t even fully aware of my own sexual preferences, and went ahead and took a heterosexual rout before questioning my actual desires.
being on Depo for more than two years isn’t advised, due to (even more) negative side-effects concerning bone-density loss. This Wednesday, I’m actually changing my birth control over to a hormonal IUD ( look up a recent article published on this blog to learn more about that! I was so psyched to see someone else in our class was going through the same thing as me!).So soon, my Depo days will be done. Was it worth it? Yeah, I think so. But I’m ready for the next birth-control adventure to start.