about 7 months before my sexual debut, I went on the pill. I'd looked at my period calendar (I now use an app called clue!) and had a sad realization: my may period was going to overlap with my beach vacation in hawaii. I visited a doctor and she explained to me that I could have some control over my cycle if I went on the pill, and I agreed with her. she gave me a prescription for a combination birth control pill.
I got home with my bag of birth control pills and ripped open the box and read the entire massive booklet that came with the pills. 3 times. I agonized over whether or not I would take them - I wasn't sexually active (although I knew it wouldn't be long), my period was super regular (why mess with a good thing?), and most importantly, this particular pill had been found to have very serious negative side effects (including a life-threatening increased likelihood to get blood clots). my anxiety was already taking a toll on me, and I hadn't even taken a pill yet. I called every pharmacist and med student that I knew and weighed the pros and cons with each of them on repeat for a week (shout out to Tara, Marina and Lucy!). finally, I decided that since I really didn't want to have my period while I wore a bikini for a week in hawaii and since I was in the best shape of my life, I would go on the pill.
the day I took my first pill, I had a panic attack. afterwards, I went to the gym to work through the stress, and worked myself out so hard that I developed a massive muscle knot in my quad. in the shower that night, I became certain that this muscle knot was a blood clot, and had yet another panic attack. I constantly felt certain that I was going to die, and I would often wake up in the middle of the night, convinced that I was about to die from a blood clot. this cycle repeated itself for the entire year that I was on the pill. after a year of that agony, I made the decision to go off of the pill and rely entirely on condoms as my method of birth control.
note: I never experienced any of the negative side effects commonly associated with birth control! I think it's great that I live in a country where the birth control pill is so accessible, and I know that it works for a lot of people. I went off the of the pill solely because of the emotional turmoil that being on it caused me.
after a few months of relying on condoms, I decided I didn't like feeling stressed about whether or not there was a baby percolating inside me. I visited a doctor, and he suggested I get an IUD (to be specific, the hormonal 5-year IUD called mirena that releases small doses of progestin locally in your uterus over five years). I was hesitant after how stressed I'd been was while I was on the pill, but I took the prescription and allowed him to make an appointment with a gyno to get it put in for about a month later. after my appointment, I did quite a bit of research - the IUD had such positive clinical reviews. it prevented pregnancy with 99.8% accuracy and had far fewer negative side effects (the main risk is associated with improper insertion or with pregnancy during use). reminder: the IUD does not protect against STIs or HIV/AIDS so regular testing and condoms are still a priority.
when I broke up with my long-term boyfriend, birth control was definitely the last thing on my mind, but when I found out my insurance covered mirena, I decided to get it put in anyways. according to my gynaecologist:
"the hormonal IUD is the most popular birth control option among doctors and medical students, and is the most effective and safe form of birth control next to abstinence."
getting it put in REALLY hurt: I essentially fainted! half an hour and some apple juice later, I was totally fine, and I haven't looked back since.
since I got my IUD I have seriously been singing its praises from the mountaintops! firstly: my period has gone from 6-7 very heavy days to 2 incredibly-light-mostly-cramp-free days (read: only pantyliners needed here!). it's common for women to lose their period altogether while they have it. secondly: it's in there, and I don't have to think about how I'm going to prevent babies from getting up in there for FIVE YEARS! and, if I wanted to have a baby, I could get it removed tomorrow and get pregnant the same day. thirdly: it's really, really safe. as previously mentioned, the primary negative side effects of an IUD are related to improper insertion. as my gyno said, once you're through the first 6 weeks, you're in the clear. when I hit my five years with this one, I'll definitely be getting another one.
TLDR: I love my IUD because it has been worry free and has genuinely made my life easier.
I could quite literally sit here and talk about birth control forever: it is legitimately one of my life's greatest passions. note: this is just my story! in no way am I giving medical advice: I am not a doctor. the most important thing is that you visit your doctor and plan for your future. obviously, what works for me isn't what works for everyone. if you'd like me to talk in-depth about other birth control options, let me know! a great resource for picking a birth control option that's right for you is bedsider.org - I love that they have a chart that breaks down the options based on your needs!
have fun, friends! & most importantly: stay safe. xo.