Implanon Part 1: That Piece of Plastic Going In My Arm


In many ways, it's the bane of my existence. Kids are just not part of my plan right now, and as much as I wish it were possible, the technology to shut my ovaries off at will for any length of time has not yet been developed. (Anyone who figures out how to do that will have my eternal gratitude. I might even make them cupcakes, I would be so grateful.) So, seeing as how I'm with a partner of the opposite sex, some sort of pregnancy prevention is required.

When I first became sexually active, condoms by themselves were just fine. I've never had one break or slip off, and for a couple of years there all was well. Until my mother found out. She was fine with the idea of me having sex. The idea of me not being on some sort of hormonal birth control? That, she was not so fine with. Cue major maternal freakout and a trip to the doctor to get me a prescription for the pill. (I should say that this was not forced upon me - I had been thinking at that point that having a backup method of some sort would be a good idea.) I walked away with a prescription for Ortho Novum 7/7/7, started taking it and immediately felt like throwing up at all times. After a few months, this got a bit tiresome, so it was back to the doctor with me for a different type of pill. And then another one. And another one. Then it was the patch, which brought with it awful skin irritation. Then the Nuva Ring, which resulted in horrible recurring yeast infections and much general unpleasantness. This whole birth control thing was turning out to be more hassle than it was worth, so I decided that condoms were perfectly okay on their own, thankyouverymuch. Hormones and I had clearly agreed to disagree.

Until a few months ago, I was happy with the status quo. As I said, I have never had a problem with condoms, and neither have any of my partners. Life was good. However. This past January, my period didn't show up. Being the anxious person I am, it took a couple of pregnancy tests to reassure me that there were no Mini-Mes in my immediate future. The whole thing did make me think, though, that maybe adding a second method of birth control back into the mix wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Obviously, based on past experience, I wasn't too keen on the combination pill, the patch, or the Nuva Ring. Concerns about bone loss ruled out Depo Provera. The idea of having something inserted into my uterus squicks me out, and the mini-pill was also out because of the unpredictability of my schedule (I have enough trouble remembering to take the other medications I'm on - trying to take something at the same time every day would be difficult to say the least). This doesn't leave a lot of options, but after a bit of research I thought I'd give Implanon a go.

I made an appointment with my local sexual health clinic to talk it through with a doctor, and yesterday spent over an hour with a lovely gynecologist who was a wealth of information and absolutely fabulous about explaining the pros and cons, possible side effects, and whether Implanon would be a good choice for me. I was particularly concerned about the fact that I have had (and still do have) serious issues with depression and anxiety, how the implant might affect that, and whether or not it would interfere with my anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds (or vice versa). She addressed each of my concerns, answered all my questions in great detail and went through an incredibly thorough explanation about the insertion and removal procedures. She explained exactly how the hormone (Implanon is progesterone-only) would affect my natural menstrual cycle and the ways in which it prevents pregnancy - complete with a model of the female reproductive system and lots of graphs sketched on the spot to show changes in hormone levels. We had a good chat about my university studies, and I told her about Scarleteen - she was thrilled to hear there was something like us out there.

It is not exaggerating to say that this is the best reproductive health care I have ever received. I felt completely comfortable asking her anything, and walked away 100% sure I'd been given all available information and knowing I had made a good choice. It was a drastic contrast to my first experience with hormonal birth control, when it was not entirely my choice and the doctor was not entirely concerned about my welfare, just moving on to the next patient as soon as possible.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be going back to the clinic to have the implant inserted. I am actually quite looking forward to it - if my experience yesterday is anything to go by, it won't be anything but positive.

Yay for quality health care, and yay for all the great supportive doctors and nurses out there!