I’d been on my period for 21 days, constantly plagued by cramps that would wake me in the night, and felt like I was losing it in a way I’d never experienced before. I wanted to get a doctor face-to-face, to explain what was happening and find out how to make it better. Since I’d had the contraceptive implant – something I thought would make life more simple, everything had become so tiresome and complicated.
As I complained to friends, family and co-workers about my ongoing pain and period, it became clear that I wasn’t alone in struggling to get a contraception that suited my body. People listed endless side effects from their various contraceptions – anaemia, depression, loss of sex drive, acne, mood swings, weight gain, even a suicidal phone call to the ambulance service.
Desperate searches of my symptoms online found endless forums dedicated to the issues. With all of the various contraceptives available on the NHS, I began to wonder, how was it all going so wrong?
Months earlier when I’d popped to my doctors, having just started a new relationship, I’d just not wanted to use bloody condoms anymore. So, after a short stint on a mini-pill, I followed my doctor’s advice and got the implant. The penis-shaped bruise on the inside of my left arm was just the start of an 18-month battle to find the right contraception, one that felt like screaming into a black hole.
Things got off to a terrible start – pretty much instantly I bled so often that I began to worry that there was something seriously wrong, like HPV, with which irregular bleeding is a symptom
. So instead of losing the implant, I was sent for tests. After a GP appointment and a visit to my local sexual health clinic, and weeks of phone calls (the impossibility of getting a doctor’s appointment when I needed one, at a time I could actually make, was my constant bugbear), I was finally referred to a specialist, who would check if the bleeding and cramps meant there was more to worry about than shitty contraception.