Every woman who has ever been on birth control knows that it comes with a heap of side effects. Last year doctors finally cottoned onto what we’ve been saying for years, that one of the biggest issues is the crippling depression that seems to occur for countless women on birth control. For most of us, living with the side effects is still worth more than winding up with a surprise pregnancy or the debilitating period cramps.
To show a little solidarity though, we decided to share our own birth control horror stories, since if you aren’t laughing at them, you’re probably in the corner sobbing uncontrollably.
Ain’t Healthcare Grand?
When I first went on birth control, I hadn’t had my period for five months, and hadn’t had a normal period in a year in a half. I felt bloated all the time, and experienced crazy mood swings. I knew I had pretty crappy insurance, but I still decided to go on the pill, which I needed for a pretty intense hormone deficiency. To my chagrin, my insurance only covered half of the cost per prescription, which I had to appeal for and received months later. For more than half a year, I had to front $60-70 per MONTH for my prescription, just to have a “normal” period (for me, normal still included horrible cramps, back pain, and bloating). It still makes my skin crawl when I think of how much money I was forced to waste for something that I think should be easily accessible and little to no cost. Women’s health care to often takes the backseat to men’s, and seeing a wonderful, helpful, and essential organization like Planned Parenthood being attacked only deepens the wound. Hopefully someday women will be able to receive the accessibility they deserve.
Birth control stuck in the arm
I have been an Implanon/Nexplanon supporter and lover since 2011. I loved my Implanon so much that, when my three years of baby-and period-less bliss was over in 2014, I got the Nexplanon (which is the newest version of Implanon) immediately inserted. The insertion process went without a hitch, and I went on with my life without worry of period cramps. That is, until recently, when I decided it was time to say goodbye to that little white rod. For a variety of reasons, I thought it was time to get rid of it and rid my system of hormones. The removal process seemed relatively simple: It includes numbing an area of your arm, making an incision, and removing it with a tweezer-looking instrument. It shouldn’t take more that 10 minutes, my doctor assured me. Turns out, when my Nexplanon was inserted, it was shoved too deep into my arm muscle (According to the Nexplanon website, it should be placed just under the skin), and my doctor was unable to remove it. Now, I have an unwanted rod stuck in bicep and have been told it may need to be surgically removed. Moral of the story: Not every birth control option is for everyone, and, if you want Nexplanon, talk to your doctor about how many times they have done the procedure and if they have had a patient who had it stuck.
Crying in the middle of the street
So, I had been considering going on birth control for about a year before I decided to take the plunge. I went to a fabulous lady doctor, talked everything out, and we both decided the pill was the right choice for me. All was well, I had experienced relatively few side effects (besides boob growth, but I wasn’t complaining about that to anyone), until the day after Halloween. I was walking to the metro station on my way to work, when I looked down at the sidewalk by my local farmer’s market. I knew they had had a fall festival for families the night before, but for some reason I was caught way off guard when I saw the sidewalk-chalk sketch of a bowling alley, with the words “boo-ling” written underneath. Between the cuteness of the pun, the hormones coursing through my veins, and everything else in the world, I couldn’t hold it in. And there, in the middle of rush hour traffic, I began to cry. No, sob. I’m talking hard-core, watching Titanic while on your period level tears, y’all. And I couldn’t stop. Not when I got on the metro, not when I got off the metro, and not when I got to work. It was never ending, until I found my office had re-orded s’mores poptarts, that is. Suffice it to say, I’m no longer on the pill, and definitely looking to try out another method.
Cramps on Cramps on Cramps
When I first got my period, I got cramps so bad that I’d have to leave early. I spent one day a month curled up on the floor trying to relieve the cramps with no success. Luckily they stopped being AS bad, still awful but I could survive the school day and that’s around the time I started taking Yaz. It helped so much with cramps and everything but I was awful at taking it. I spent most of my time at college trying to get the implant because I really liked that it didn’t cause more cramping and lasted three years. Unfortunately, I had a ton of trouble finding the combination of the right doctor and the right brand so I gave up and got the IUD. Having it inserted caused me so much pain, I was cramping for three days straight (and the night before because they have you take a pill to open up your cervix). Now every time I get my period the cramps are worse, at least three times a year I reconsider the IUD because it causes cramping to the extreme and immobilizes me for hours.
My Boyfriend Thought I was Dying
I had been on the pill throughout high school and for most of university when I blanked one month and ran out. I didn’t have time to go to a doctor and get another prescription for a few weeks, so I just went without. I felt fine for a while, a little moodier than usual but generally OK. Until one night at my waitressing job when I got incredibly dizzy and started throwing up. It felt like I had the worst flu imaginable; nausea and pain. My boyfriend came to pick me up and I crashed for days. I had the worst stomach sickness and lady-parts pain but it was just all the hormones leaving my body that was screwing with me and making me feel terrible. The best explanation the doctors could come up with was that my body was adjusting to not receiving the hormones from the pill anymore. My boyfriend hadn’t experienced this with any of his past girlfriends and wanted to take me to the hospital several times when I couldn’t sleep or function normally because of the discomfort. He grew up without any sisters and couldn’t believe that a natural part of being a girl could cause so much pain and inconvenience. I later got an IUD for convenience sake, but he is still incredibly sympathetic whenever I have period pain.
I Bled for Two Months Straight.
Four years ago I went on Accutane in order to finally remedy my horrible cystic acne. I was surprised to learn that, in addition to monthly blood tests, I was required to go on birth control in order to receive the treatment, as potential birth defects under the treatment are devastating. I opted for an IUD. The copper one to be precise. At first it was great! It was painful as hell to put in but after a week I hardly knew it was there. Until i became painfully aware. After about four months, my palms began to smell like copper when they got clammy. I was literally oozing metallic properties from my pores. Around the time that this started, I got my period, and it refused to leave. I maintained a period flow for two months. When I went to the gynecologist, he decided it was time to remove the IUD. I knew he would say this, and I was so desperate to stay on Accutane so I delayed seeing him. A dumb move on my end but at that time in my life I would’ve given anything for better skin. Even my health came second to my face. My gyno prescribed a pill to make my period stop, but told me to wait to fill the prescription to see if it would stop on its own. Within two days of removing the IUD, my period finally stopped. Needless to say, I was severely anemic by this point. If I ever go back to birth control, maybe traditional oral tablets will be the route I take.
My birth control killed over 40 women
Before starting college, my doctor put me on birth control for my wicked periods. I didn’t want to take a pill because I worried I’d forget, so she started me on the new Ortho Evra patches. It was simple, slap a patch on and wear it for a week, throw it away, and start over. It definitely got gross on my skin, but overall I was happy that it was regulating my periods. That was until the massive depression began. It took far too long for me to realize it was the birth control and not just hating my freshman year. Every night I’d have dreams about dying or killing myself, and as someone who had never suffered from depression it was quite the sea change. At the end of the year I finally found out that not only did it cause depression, but women were dying from the patch due to it causing lethal blood clots. I ripped off the patch that day and not only did the depression magically disappear, but I managed to, you know, not die.