A Fashion Blog By Gemma Talbot

Friday, 28 June 2019

Let's Talk Contraception

I recently put a couple of stories up with regards to contraception, specifically looking into the non-hormonal copper (IUD) coil and was astounded by the influx of DM’s I received. Whilst my Instagram is predominantly about fashion, I like to keep things real and also talk about every day topics. When women shy away from talking about periods, sex, contraception, thrush the list goes on I just can’t get my head around it. We all experience these things and by actually vocalising them you’ll come to realise that the rest of the population are too. 

I’m twenty eight years old and as such do not have any plans to have a baby for a good few years. I have a boyfriend and as am honest in the fact that I am having regular sex (sorry Dad if you’re reading this, I know you still see me as your little girl). Sex is a normal thing whether you’re in a relationship or not and if you want to protect yourself against pregnancy then you need to look at seeking some form of contraception. Don’t get me started on those guys who just presume you’re on the pill. Worst still, they don’t feel the need to strap up. It’s like Hun, the pill doesn’t protect you from STI’s get your devil D away from me πŸ™ˆπŸ†πŸ˜‚

Now one thing I know for sure is my body doesn’t respond well to hormones. I used to be on the pill a good few years ago and the hormonal side effects I personally experienced were weight gain, nausea, bad skin, mood swings, headaches and bigger boobs (which I guess was the only benefit). Whilst I was on Microgynon which is the most commonly and cheaply administered from what I believe, I haven’t really allowed myself to try other pills. Specfically, progesterone only hormonal pills. To be completely honest, I just wanted to stop taking it altogether because I didn’t like the side effects. I also really don’t want to put my body under that stress because I know that Gemma and the hormonal side effects do not mix well. What my recent Instagram stories showed me was that like myself, most women don’t respond well to the pill either. 

So where does that leave me? And also those women who for medical reasons can’t take the pill due to the hormones associated with it. Unfortunately there are not many non-hormonal contraceptive methods currently available for women. The ones I have explored are the non-hormonal copper coil, condoms and Natural cycles. With the latter two, you run the risk of the condom splitting in which case you have to take emergency contraception such as Levonelle and EllaOne which again are pumping your body full of hormones that will give you the side effects we’re trying to very much avoid. Personally, when contraception has failed me (i.e. the condom splits) when taking the morning after pill, I’ve broken out in spots usually around my chin/jawline, my mood has been so low that I haven’t been able to stop crying and I’ve generally felt bloated or as though I’m retaining a lot of water. Common side effects I generally experienced with the pill. I believe hormonal based oral contraception is really not for me, or at least ones that are absorbed by the digestive system anyways which is why I’m looking for alternatives. Whilst I would like to stress I am no medical expert, as a woman you begin to learn to understand your body with age and I know I need to avoid hormones at all costs. 

Can I just take a minute to draw to your attention to the fact that clinical trials for the male contraceptive pill were stopped due to the adverse negative side effects experienced by men. These side effects were no different to those that as women we have to go through when protecting ourselves against pregnancy. Particularly the hormones that affect our mood and cause us as guys would say to act “psycho”. Men sometimes really do not understand how lucky they have it and the enormous stress we as women have to put our bodies under. Not to mention, that female hormones such as oestrogen when taken over a long period of time can actually lead to the development of diseases such as breast cancer. 

As such I have looked into the non-hormonal copper coil because once fitted it’s one of the most effective methods (around 99%) of contraception and works straight away. As it’s free from hormones this was music to my ears. I put out a story on Instagram to ask for advice from anyone who currently has the copper coil and honestly expected perhaps 10 replies. I kid you not, I had probably over 300 DM’s maybe more and was both shocked by how many people actually had it but also the opinions that were shared with me. Like any form of contraception, you have to weigh up your options. What works for one person may not work for another but there were a few common denominators which I will share with you below as some of you did ask for this. Obviously I am no medical professional but this is basically me sharing real life experiences of girls who are not afraid to talk about it openly. Just so you know Susan, it isn’t TMI. I’m stunned that some girls act so coy about contraception because it is definitely something that should be spoken about more and normalised. The same way as a woman we shouldn’t be branded a ‘slag’ for getting the morning after pill as emergency contraception if your normal method has failed you.

So here are some of the things I was told….

Someone who works in obstetric and gynaecology actually messaged to say that she sees so many people come back with their coil stuck or need to have it taken out because it’s causing them problems and she personally wouldn’t recommend having one fitted. 

The most common side effect reported with the copper coil was that it made periods heavier, painful and often longer in length. For me personally, my periods are already really painful, the first two days I always need pain relief to get me through and they are heavy so ideally wouldn’t want them to get any heavier without it affecting my everyday life and comfort. I don’t want to have to stay at home for the first two days of my period at fear of leaking through my tampon. A lot of people have said that this does get better after about 3-6 months of having the coil and your body taking time to adjust but others said that it does continue. You have to weigh up whether a couple of days/up to a week of monthly discomfort outweighs having the copper coil. 

The procedure of having the coil fitted is believed to be painful. Some say discomfort like the smear test, others say agony that left them light headed and I quote in “agony”. Again everyone is different but I know I personally have a low threshold. A lot of people have said to cancel plans for the rest of the day and even the next day as a way of your body adjusting to having the coil fitted. One girl actually told me to only have it fitted by a gynaecologist if I was going to go ahead with one. This was because when she went to have hers fitted at her local GP they didn’t realise her cervix was set slightly more forward than normal. As a result the coil was forced in and it perforated her uterus and is now stuck in her abdomen, which was too risky to have surgically removed due to where it was placed. I know there are risks to anything and the likelihood of this happening to me is slim but when reading this I couldn’t help but shudder. 

If you happen to get pregnant with a coil it can be very dangerous as it can increase the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. In short, this is a complication in pregnancy whereby the embryo attached outside of the uterus (sometimes in the fallopian tube). 

Another side effect associated with the copper coil is the increase in experiencing thrush. If you’ve experienced this you’ll know exactly what it is and how to deal with it. Personally, I haven’t but the friends I have spoken to have advise it is rather unpleasant. A few girls did message me to say this has happened to them as a result of opting for the copper coil as a method of contraception. 

A few girls also DM’d me to say that their partner could feel the coil or at least something whilst they were having sex and one even said that the coil pricked her boyfriend’s penis and he had to go to hospital. I know this isn’t funny but the immaturity got the better of me here πŸ˜‚

Other risks believed to be associated with the copper coil are infection which if untreated can lead to pelvic infection and also a risk it may move or be pushed out by your body. I think I briefly touched upon this at the beginning but the coil does not protect you against STI’s. So unless you are 100% sure the person you are sleeping with is clean, wrap up and strap up kids. 

Although I’ve spoken to you mainly about the worst experiences I have come across some people who have said they absolutely loved having it and it was life changing for them, mainly due to the fact you just don’t have to worry about any method of contraception for 5 years. I think it’s important to say as well with anything people are always going to tell you of their worst experiences. You rarely harp on about how amazing a guy treats you to your friends, it’s 9 times out of 10 when they do something to piss you off/upset you so remember that. 

I’d say generally if you can put up with the more intense periods perhaps this method is for you as I have found this to be generally the case for everyone. Again, if you have it fitted you can always have it removed so nothing lost and nothing gained so to speak. I just wanted to cover all the opinions that were shared with me to perhaps help anyone who like myself didn’t really know much about the copper coil and who may be thinking of going down this route of contraception. 

Whilst I am currently sat on the fence with regards for going for the copper coil as a method of contraception for myself, a few people have recommended the Mirena (5 year protection)/Jaydess coil (3 years). A doctor on Instagram personally advised me not to get the copper coil as my periods are already bad (a very common side effect) but said the Mirena may be a good option for me instead. Whilst this coil is still hormonal they are released directly into the uterus as opposed to absorbed through the digestive system like the pill. As a result, side effects are believed to be less severe and even mentioned that it lightens and shortens periods whilst for some it has stopped them altogether. It does contain progesterone though so it is a hormone and possible side effects could include mood swings, headaches, skin problems and breast tenderness to name a few. Whilst I never tried a progesterone only pill, it’s uncertain to know whether the hormonal side effects will be as bad and whether this is a risk I want to potentially take. I really am trying to steer away from pumping hormones into my body but I feel like my options are limited here. I am definitely going to continue doing my research and to speak to an actual doctor to help me to reach a firm decision. Another contraceptive method that was also recommended by a few to me was the Nuva ring but again I know nothing about this and would have to look into this more. 

I know today’s post was slightly different to my usual content but I thought it was important to share it with you. Contraception should definitely be talked about more openly and if this post can help a handful of people then I’ll be more than happy. 

Happy Friday! Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the sunshine.

Jacket - Sold Out (similar)
T-shirt - Zara
Coin Necklace - Missoma
Skirt - Miss Selfridge
Trainers - Alexander McQueen
Bag - ChloΓ©

Photography by Fifi Newbery 


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