So, two days ago, I told you about why Igwe and I decided to have a baby and I said I’d be willing to share my birth control experience if anyone wants to hear it. Honestly, I was not expecting much, but I’m pleasantly surprised at how many people want to know – especially those who contacted me privately. So here I go.
Before you read any further, let us first establish that what I’m writing here is just my experience and should not be taken as medical advice. Consult your doctor before you start any birth control regimen. I had to type that sentence because I am not about that getting sued life.
Ehen. So like I stated before, Igwe and I got married in December 2011 and I started using my birth control in January 2012. Prior to this birth control, I had never used any other birth control, so I cannot compare and contrast to say which one I prefer. Well, Igwe and I used condoms before we got married, but I’m not counting it as birth control right now (compared to what I eventually used). Oh, my God, I just admitted to having sex before marriage. Please oh! If my mommy, daddy, grandma, or Aunt Chinelo is reading this, I’m just joking oh! And if Ada Verastic reads this in the future, girl, you better shut those legs till you are married!!! Do as I say, not as I do (my own mother’s favorite words to me when I challenge her). Also, as a proper Naija parent, I have to add, as long as you are under my roof, you will do as I say! But as a really proper Naija parent in America, I have to add again, but even when you are no longer under my roof, you must still do as I say. I am your mother and I carried you for 9 months. You will not disrespect me!!! Gbam.
So the birth control. We knew we did not want to make any babies yet, and I had no previous experience with any birth control. However, I did my Google research and I decided that I would go with the Depo-Provera shots which are given every 3 months. I knew I did not want the pills because I am terrible at remembering to take medication. I just could not commit to taking a pill every day. I have been known to forget to take medication when my headache is still on sef.
So I went to see my OB/GYN. At this time, I had a female OB/GYN. I explained to her that I wanted birth control and I asked her to tell me about the different kinds. Then I told her that I was considering the Depo-Provera shots because I didn’t want birth control that I’d have to think of every day. But she said that she would recommend I use an IUD instead because the Depo shots can take up to a year to stop being active in my body, so if I were to decide tomorrow that I’d like to have a baby, it might take me up to a year to actually conceive. The IUD, on the other hand, once you put it in, you’re protected, and once you take it out, you’re no longer protected.
I knew nothing of the IUD at this time. She told me about the two that were available: Mirena (which prevents pregnancy for up to 5 years) and ParaGard which prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years. I don’t remember all the differences between the Mirena and ParaGard, but I know that the Mirena has progesterone, which some people don’t like because they don’t want any extra hormones coming into their body.
I chose the Mirena over ParaGard because I was told by my doctor (and I don’t know if she was right or wrong) that the Mirena was a tad bit better at preventing pregnancies because of the hormone AND with the Mirena, you will have light(er) bleeding, while ParaGard will first increase your period before then going back to normal. Although I don’t even bleed heavily, I was just tickled at the thought of having little to no periods, so I chose the Mirena. And in case you’re curious, yes, my period became even lighter. So light that I skipped using a pad and used a panty liner instead. It also became irregular and I completely stopped tracking it.
Inserting an IUD is like having a pap smear, except something goes in and never comes out (till you take it off, of course). I did not like the insertion one bit, but this does not come as a surprise to me because I don’t like pap smears either. What’s to like about having my legs wide open and having someone go in there with a big metal thing (speculum) and cotton swabs. Nope, not fun. For the men (hi Igwe!) who don’t know what the speculum is, I took a picture for you. Once the speculum goes in, the doctor opens it up wide and tightens the screw, so it stays open inside you.
Anyway, while I was wide open, the doctor put the Mirena in, and that was the end of that. I hear that these days, when you put an IUD in, you have to go back later to do a sonogram so they can make sure that the IUD is sitting where it’s supposed to be. During my time, I was never told to come back, but it’s great that they do that now. Oh, and before you put it in, the doctor will make you sign a form saying you understand the possible complications of the IUD, like it puncturing your uterus. I just covered my uterus with the blood of Jesus and kept it moving. Ha!
I was told that side effects could include weight gain and acne, so I monitored closely to see if that would happen. It did not happen to me. When I was ready to start trying for a baby, I told my OB/GYN (this time, I had a male OB/GYN). He left the room and came back with a form for me to sign. It stated that I was giving him permission to take my IUD out and that if for whatever reason, he was unable to get it out the normal way, I would be okay with him doing what was necessary, including surgery. When I read that, I freaked out. And he said I should not worry, that it barely ever happens, and that he was sure I would be fine.
So we proceeded to do the pap smear. When he was done with the pap smear and was ready to take out the IUD, he said, “Well, the good news is that I found the IUD, the bad news is that I can’t find the string.” Excusez moi! What do you mean you cannot find the string??? I broke out in sweat and my body was trembling. I was freaking out for sure. When the IUD is put into you, it has a string at the end of it. This is the string they use to pull it out when you’re ready. Mine was nowhere to be found, so the doctor had to go deeper inside me with the speculum, and oh how I hate the speculum. Eventually, he found it. It was tucked somewhere inside me. I think Igwe’s errr uhm member pushed it in farther, I don’t know. And finally, the Mirena was out of me.
After I had the baby, the doctors kept asking me what method of birth control I would like to use and I kept telling them that I did not know. I was still scarred from the Mirena string not being found and it just turned me off. As of today, I still have not made a decision about what birth control to use because I wish I could use something less intrusive but still as effective. And there’s nothing out there. I refuse to take pills everyday. I will not be taking the Depo shots. I will not stick those stick things into my arms, and I will not count my fertility days and just have Igwe pull out. That’s what Solachi did, and that’s how she ended up giving birth to my god daughter. Nope.
Oh, so I took the Mirena out on December 9th 2014, and a couple days later, my period came. It lasted for the normal 5 days, then it left and came back a few days later and lasted for another 5 days. Twenty-four days from the last day, my period came again (in January). Then my period did not come in February. Or March. Or since then. Ada Verastic was already cooking after the January period. But guess what? It was not until my second trimester that I actually went to see a doctor. Long story. I’ll have to type another post about HOW we knew I was pregnant. Too funny! I cannot type it here because this post is already too, too long.
I cannot tell you what to do or not do with your body, but I have come to notice that Nigerian/African women tend to shy away from birth control. I can’t count how many times women turned their noses up at me because I dared to use birth control- especially an IUD and most especially because I was not even a mom yet. Like how dare I make this decision for myself! People were afraid of the birth control making me infertile for the rest of my life. I cannot say that birth control does not cause complications because I know that it does sometimes, but what I also knew at the time was that I did not want to pop babies out every year, and apart from abstinence, I just did not know any other way to be intimate with my husband and not get pregnant.
Someone recently told me that she was able to not get pregnant by using several apps on her phone where she would input dates and it would tell her when she was ovulating. If you are that kind of dedicated person, then go for it. After I took my IUD out, I could not even commit myself to finding out my most fertile days to give us a better chance of conceiving. It was too much for me, so I figured we would just explore and it will happen when it happens.
P.S. In spite of my Mirena string temporarily being unavailable, I really did not have a bad experience with Mirena.
P.P.S. At the time I started using the IUD, I think Mirena and ParaGard were the only available IUDs. But now there are also Skyla and Liletta, and I know nothing of them, so ask your doctor if you’re interested.
P.P.P.S. According to the Mirena website, Mirena is over 99% effective. I don’t know about you, but that works for me.
P.P.P.P.S. I still have not made a decision about which birth control to go back on, although I’d have to decide by the time I go back for my six-week checkup in two weeks. But who am I kidding? I’ll probably be back on the Mirena — unless there’s a way to temporarily sterilize Igwe’s sperm with the blood of Jesus.