This is going to be a post alllllll about women’s business and by that I mean contraception, periods and the like. It’s a subject I’ve rarely seen written about (or maybe I’ve just not looked hard enough) and it’s one I think is super important, and I feel that it’s very much swept under the carpet and hidden away like a mutant twin sibling. So I just wanted to share my experience and thoughts on it and hopefully this is helpful or at least insightful for some of you.
Recently(ish) I was a little irresponsible and needed to get hold of ‘the morning after pill’ ASAP or the emergency contraceptive pill as it’s more technical title, and one the professionals use as I was corrected, when I asked for it as discreetly as I could in the bustling hospital pharmacy. Looking over my shoulder and all that. This wasn’t my first time getting the pill, but it has been years since the last time because I had been protected from pregnancy by my implant.
So for those of you who have been super responsible all their lives let me fill you in the process of procuring this unpregnatizing pill. If you ask for it in a pharmacy they take you into a consultation room and the pharmacist will ask you the following questions, what resulted in you needing to get emergency contraception, so if you’re super nervous or feel like they’re judging you just say the condom broke cos then you look like you’re doing the right thing by getting ECP. I’ve only ever had one bad experience which unfortunately was my first encounter but that might have something to do with him having to work on boxing day more than anything, I didn’t feel comfortable talking to a man about it as it was my first time and he wasn’t very sympathetic but because of the christmas holidays I didn’t have the luxury of choice as I was redirected to that pharmacy after visiting the nearest walk-in centre which advised me that it would be quicker to obtain it from there rather than having to wait to be seen.
For the ECP to be effective it has to be taken within 72 hours from having had unprotected sex, which is very important to keep in mind. So they will ask you when’s the last time you had unprotected sex to check you’re suitable for the pill, when your last period was, they’ll also ask if you’re 16 or over*, whether you have any known allergies, are you on any regular medication and other general health questions. Everything you say to the pharmacist is completely confidential, I didn’t even have to give my name or any other personal details (that weren’t relevant) to him. So your GP won’t be notified nor will your parents whether or not you’re under 16. They will of course ask you if you have any questions for them and don’t be afraid of asking questions no matter how dumb you think it may be! It’s always better to find out from a healthcare professional rather than letting in fester in your head or worst googling and hoping for the best.
The process would be similar if not the same in other places where the pill is available and if you do have a preference to see a female nurse or doctor you’re more likely to get that in a sexual health clinic, walk in or at your local GP surgery as at a pharmacy you will see whoever’s qualified to prescribe it. I had to pay for it which cost a pretty penny at around £22 but you can get it for free from some pharmacies (definitely worth calling up to check before you go in), it’s free from sexual health clinics, walk-in centres, your GP surgery and GUM clinics. It really is a simple process and nothing to be afraid of, you’re in and out in 10 minutes max.
The aftermath, so what can you expect once you’ve taken the pill? Not a lot really – Unless you lied to the doctor/nurse/pharmacist, but I trust you guys to be sensible and in control of your health so nothing terrible should happen (she says). The first time I took it I remember having a bleed a day or two after but it was only the smallest amount of blood and the most recently, I didn’t have a bleed at all. Bleeding is one of the completely normal side effects of the pill.
*If you are under 16 the pharmacy won’t be able to sell you the ECP and they will advise you to either go to your GP, a sexual health clinic or GUM clinic. You can find out more about emergency contraception here.
So I mentioned earlier that I had an implant, not the plastic surgery kind but rather a 4cm plastic rod that sits in my arm that prevents me from being preggo. After 3 years it expires and I’m no longer a barren woman. I am so glad this exists because I’m not a fan of taking a pill everyday at the same time, I cannot trust myself to not forget and that happened a few times when I was on it, which obviously isn’t ideal. I don’t like the idea of taking any pill everyday for any health reasons, I don’t like relying on supplements or vitamins for nutrients and unless I was in a life death situation where I needed to take pills than I would, I’m a huge believer in having a balanced diet will prevent you most illnesses and what you put into your body is what you will get out of it too.
The main reason why I was so attracted to this method is because it’s a long term solution but not a permanent one, there are other methods of long acting reversible contraception (LARC) but it’s 3 year life is perfect for me right now. Not to mention once it’s in I don’t have to think about it (until it expires), it just does it’s job silently and brilliantly. Another huge benefit I’ve gained from the implant is that I no longer have periods, which has most definitely saved me some money cos tampons and pads are not cheap and I hate that fact that there are companies out there profiting from natural causes which is wrong in my books but I digress. As far as I know that is not a problem at all so there is no long term effects of that and fertility will return to normal if the implant is taken out or it expires whichever happens first.
Earlier on this week I went to my GP to get my expired implant removed and replaced, my arm is cleaned and then local anaesthetic is injected in the area where my implant is and a small incision is made to retrieve it. The procedure actually took a while, I’d say I was on the table for a good 20 minutes but my circumstances were not the norm, the doctor did say that my implant was very much buried in my arm, on the side which you are normally supposed to take it out, which made it very difficult for her to find. In the end we decided it would be much easier to remove it from the opposite side and after 10 minutes it was finally out and after a wipe down, a new one was inserted through the same opening which was smoothly put in place. This is probably not the method for you if you’re squeamish about needles or scalpels but you don’t feel a thing, promise!
I’m not in any way preaching that the implant is the way to go because everyone is different and what works for me may not work for you but I just wanted to shed light on an alternative to the pill. So if your current method of contraception isn’t working for you there are many others out there you can try, more information here.