The Contraceptive Mambo

3 Feb

If I started this blog for any reason it was to entirely and utterly ruin the beauty and mystery of women. If I can give one thing, just one thing to you dear reader it is this fundamental truth:

The female body is a revolving door of horror show discharges, changes and expensive, maintenance. Have any of you ever owned a vintage car? You know how much work it took to keep the thing running? Shit would just fall out of it or break at random and you had to keep going into the shop? Okay, Now imagine being the owner of a female body as requiring the same amount of work as a classic Shelby Cobra.

But instead of looking like James Bond cool while driving it, the chassis just starts crying for no reason sometimes.

And I know that the cliché is that girls get all bitchy when they get their periods but let me be all kinds of real with you for a second. One time I was just pissed for what seemed to be no reason. I’m sure that some of the, really quite lovely men in my life, figured “Aw…probably just that old men-stru-ation. She’ll be fine after a couple days…”

But no. I wasn’t on the rag. I was upset because I had just found out that you can get cancer of the Vulva. I knew about the Cervix, I knew about the Ovaries I knew about the Breasts and the … the fucking Fallopian tubes… But come on! The outside bits of my tender petals could become cancerous at any moment?

So I had become a bit raw when I earned about that fact. It felt like all of the shit I was rocking below the belt was a nest of venomous roman senators ready for a coup. Just waiting to find an oppourtunity to stab me somewhere soft. On top of that you learn that when you get older your bones turn to chalk and also? Remember puberty? And how shitty that was? Well, girl you can just pump yourself up for Puberty Gaiden! We call it MENOPAUSE!

Hope your bitchass has air conditioning!

It’s a frustrating thing, female biology is. There are a myriad of surprises and variables. As far as I know you gentlemen have about three things to worry about when it comes to your reproductive giblets:

  • Can I achieve an erection?
  • Is my prostate enlarged?
  • Are there tumors in my balls?

I’ve  simplified that a bit, I know but those are the basics.

When I hit puberty I wasn’t really paying attention even though my mother, teachers and other girlfriends were starting to talk about it. I wasn’t very interested in boys and to be honest the talk about menstruation flew right over my head. I think I was more concerned with the fact that the new episodes of Tailspin were on that afternoon.

So when I doubled over midway through my 6th hour class during a school day with an overwhelming crunching feeling in my guts I was a bit concerned that my instinct about that fruit cup was dead on and I should have listened to it. I scuttled to the bathroom and waited for the punishment shits to start but nothing.

Then I looked down.

Oh.

I didn’t panic. This wasn’t a Judy Bloom novel. I just hadn’t been paying attention in health class. For some odd reason I thought this womanhood business wasn’t something I was going to be involved with. Well, Here was the cherry red proof that my body had gotten the ball rolling and I was going to need deal with it.

“So, I think I started my period.” I told my mom when I came home from school with a makeshift toilet paper diaper wrapped around my self under my jeans.

My mother gave me the same look she gave me when I was confused about the sex ed conversation. That was the talk a few years before I hit my teens where I thought sex and procreation happened through pollination just like with plants.  It was a look that she got when she wasn’t sure if she’d had a developmentally retarded child and hadn’t noticed before now.

“You think? That’s a pretty obvious…”

“Okay! I did…I… Look can I just get a wumpom from you or something?”

So I learned that the word is “Tampon” and carried on with the whole puberty thing until Tailspin got cancelled and I figured it was time to become sexually active.

Oh my goodness let me tell you. This where all of my favorite things start happening. Not the sexually active part, that was just embarrassing and stupid.

The contraceptive part.

If you want to be responsibly sexually active at a young age and don’t think you want to star on Teen Mom you will need to familiarize yourself with the plethora of god defying gewgaws. Due to my own unique brand of horrifyingly bad monthlies that need to be kept in check with science (seeing as how my own biology has FAILED ME.) and an overwhelming fear of pregnancy and childbirth have led me down a crooked, winding path through the forest of contraceptive methods.

Let me be your sherpa through that wilderness boys and girls.

Your vagina sherpa.

What’s super fun about all of these is that I can only tell you ladies how they effected me. My system is apparently a delicate flower and must be treated a certain way so some of the pharmaceutical off-roading has produced effects that most of the female population wouldn’t experience.

CONDOMS:

You don't buy them like this obvs.

 

I want to be brief about this because it should be pretty common knowledge at this point but you need to use these. Word on the street is that there is stuff that can be all kinds of stuff that can kill you that chills in genitals just waiting. The rate of effectiveness is pretty good as far a birth control goes but the failure rate is a little higher than things like the pill. Mostly because at least once in your life you will try to get one on after pounding a keg of five and you will fuck up.

But a jimmy hat is your best shot at not having an intensely upsetting conversation with your doctor later about that new sensation when you pee.

Moving on.

ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN:

The lady parts sundial

 

Ah, The classic pill. This was the one I got my sea legs on. It seemed to work decently well at first but because I started it as a teen the regular angst juice circulating through my skull covered up the fact that it was making me depressed. It’s a shame that wasn’t something I realized before I decided to get fancy…

This is 99% effective and relatively low on side effects for most women. Some chicks refuse to go on the pill because it can cause some weight gain.

Although getting your stupid whore self knocked up isn’t going to keep you in a sample size so go on a head and weigh that one out on a pair of scales why don’t you?

SEASONIQUE:

It looks like a monsters jawbone to me now.

 

Seasonique sounds like the fresh new female MC but is just another version of the pill. It’s the one that fool your body into having only four periods a year. I know. I can hear you all now.

“But that is not natural!”

And I felt the same way until I got my next period then I was all “Fuck nature! She’s no kin to me!”

And for a little bit things were great. Then that unnoticed sensitivity to oral contraceptive hormones reared it’s ugly head in the form of probably the worst depression I have ever experienced. I’m not looking for pity you guys, but for about half a year I couldn’t feed myself, dress myself, bathe, go to school, work…

At one point my mother tried coaxing me into the kitchen to eat something while on the phone with me and I got so tired halfway across the living room I had to sit down on the sofa. She flew to San Francisco and spoon fed me and set me up with a therapist who recommended not taking the birth control for a while to see if it would make any sort of change.

It did. Almost over night things didn’t look so insurmountably bleak and after a round of Paxil I could remain employed and functioning again.

I suppose it did do it’s job as a contraceptive. If by “do it’s job” we are talking about the time I locked myself in the bathroom with a bread knife and threatened suicide while a boy I liked visited from the Midwest.  Let me tell you, no one got laid that night ….That advanced level of crazy is just generally a dick wilter…

So after learning to eat solids again and also that oral contraceptives were a no-no I moved on to finding another solution.

INTRAUTERINE DEVICE:

A pogostick for your uterus!

 

The therapist who managed to fix my little nervous breakdown referred me to a very nice OB/GYN to get me on something that would provide contraception and level out my mood again. For some reason I latched on to the idea of an IUD as the best option.

“I really don’t recommend it for women your age.” Said the grandfatherly doctor as he steepled his fingers and peered at me compassionately over his oak desk.

But I was all “What do you know doctor dude! Fix me up!” So he did.

The insertion of that thing into my tender portions broke every boundary of pain I thought I was capable of experiencing. The nurses heard me scream and smash my fist into the wall from outside reception area. The worst part is that is an agony you have to go through twice as the two little posts on the sides must be inserted into both entrances one at a time.

I laid on the exam table for thirty minutes after the doctor had finished, sucking on an ice cube and waiting for the extra strength tylenol to kick in. I finally managed to hobble out of the doctors office under the concerned gaze of the nurses and doctor back to my home where I spent the next five months bleeding and drinking heavily in a bathtub full of hot water. It was probably the most effective thing I’d used thus far really, as I was in so much pain I couldn’t bear the thought of fucking anything.

After those five months I dragged myself back into the OB/GYN office and ceded defeat.

“Take this thing out. Just…Just take it out.”

“I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience with it…” The doctor started to say as I lay with my hands over my face trying to get up the lady balls to have the second peg removed.

“Well, you tried to warn me and I bullied you into it. Okay….okay. GO DO IT NOW FINISH THE JOB!!”

My OB/GYN deftly removed the rest of the IUD and i curled on on myself. “Auuuugh gaaaaaaaaaaah…”

“Do you think you are ready to think about trying the NuvaRing now?” He asked.

“Since I clearly can’t make my own choices let’s just go with what you think is best for now.” I said from the same position in my crinkly paper nest of agony.

NUVARING:

It's a metaphor of sorts for coming full circle and finding peace. The shape I mean...

 

“So, basically, what it does is release hormones that prevent implantation of the egg but in a localized dose of hormones which should prevent the moodswings you’ve had with the pill…” My doctor held up what looked like one of those clear jelly bracelets that was popular when I was in middle school. It was attached to a large lump of blue plastic that had the word “NUVARING” painted on it in white.

I took it out of his hand and stared at it for a long moment.

“Okay. It’s just the ring part. The blue thing is just a paper weight for the display.” He said.

“Well that’s good, doc, because I don’t know how much longer my delicates can take being treated like a POD rental storage.”

I bought a prescription which I paid out the ass for seeing as there is no generic and took it home. I sat down in my bathroom and read the instructions then attempted insertion. After sling shooting it across the room like a rubberband the first few times I was finally successful.

What followed was a month of bliss. My lady machinery behaved. There were no twinges in a fussy ovary or disrupting mood swings and when I took it out to have a bleed the period was only three days and not debilitating.

I flung open the door to the doctors office the next day and proclaimed: “I WILL TAKE A YEARS WORTH OF THIS NUVARING!”

And the nurse asked me to please sit and wait till called.

THE SPONGE:

Am I supposed to prevent pregnancy with it or use it to apply foundation?

 

I am happy with the NuvaRing. Deeply satisfied. But the problem with using it is I need a prescription and so when I run out I have to go hustle for it. That means a pap smear and that means a visit to the docs office for what a friend of mine used  to call the “puppet show” seeing as how the speculum looks like the frame of a Muppet and they sling that courtesy sheet across your knees.

NuvaRing runs about 80$ a month without insurance and I’d just managed to get covered by Kaiser so it was taking me some time to get new OB/GYN and the new prescription. In the meantime I turned to the sponge.

I figured it would just be a temporary fix. After all it’s good for twenty four hour use and it’s reliable.

Okay. Now imagine a chunk of Tempurpedic foam.

Imagine that it’s covered in soap and you have to run it under the sink until it gets soapy.

Now imagine there is a shoe lace attatched to it.

Now go on and cram that up in you and feel all sexy.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave it in for six hours after intercourse or it won’t be effective.

POSTSCRIPT:

There was a lot of press a little while ago about a male version of the pill coming on the market. Everyone pretty much lost their shit right away, claiming it was emasculating and unsafe and blah blah blah.

My reasons for not trusting it are entirely practical and please don’t take this personally gentlemen but, you aren’t ready for this jelly.

You just aren’t raised with the biological false alarms of potential pregnancies and the whole shitshow song and dance of trying to fight your body on a basic natural level once or twice a month. The genuine fear of pregnancy no matter what you claim- is not an every day thing for y’all. Sometimes I don’t want you to put on your own condoms because I’m worried you’ll be careless.

I’m just saying. I paid cash money to have a copper wire inserted into one of the most sensitive organs in my body. I kind of know what I’m talking about here.

Just let us handle it.

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21 Responses to “The Contraceptive Mambo”

  1. Wood February 3, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    I wonder if I should be thankful that the mental image of a vulva full of togated, stabby Roman senators was chased by that of the vagina sherpa.

    Vagina. Sherpa. I think I need to lay my brain in a bucket of bleach for a moment.

    Also, as far as I understand, any part of your body can get cancerous at any moment, mostly for reasons that are not yet fully explained.

  2. bigbigtruck February 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Let’s hear it for NuvaRing!

    It’s brought a whole new meaning to the word “spelunking” in our household.

  3. Chloe February 4, 2011 at 12:10 am #

    I LOVED Tailspin!!

  4. Erika Moen February 6, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    Once again, excellent essay, lady.

    I swear, if I still don’t want a baby by the age of 34, then I’m gunna look into getting sterilized because fuck. contraception. I like my IUD well enough, but it definitely has made me periods 50x more painful and last about double as long >:P

    • Rose Fox February 6, 2011 at 5:32 am #

      (I stalked you here via Twitter.)

      If you can tolerate hormonal contraceptives, I highly recommend the Mirena IUD, which oozes just enough fake hormonal concentrate to make your uterus and ovaries lie down and go to sleep. For five years. There are few thrills to compare with looking at the little “When was your last period?” box on the form you fill out in the doctor’s office, scratching your head, and writing “I don’t remember”.

      I will also sing hymns of praise to whomever figured out that misoprostol, which dilates the cervix, could be useful not only when a woman is trying to push a baby out of the uterus but also when a doctor is pushing an IUD into it. When I got my first IUD I had the wall-punching agony that Leia describes (and cramps so bad that two days later I went back for an ultrasound to make sure there had been no–brace yourself–uterine perforation, a phrase I hope to never hear again). When I got my second IUD, I strolled out of the doctor’s office and went to a party where I danced all night.

      I’ve thought about getting my tubes tied but I actually prefer the Mirena. I have to swap it out every five years, but a) now I have a smart doctor who makes it painless, b) no surgery, and c) no periods. The hormones don’t seem to be fucking with my head, so right now that looks like a pretty good deal.

  5. Mordecai February 6, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    What if the ‘male pill’ manages to nix sperm without maddening hormonal consequences? I wouldn’t trust me either if I were you, but given the choice between ‘six months of crippling depression for her’ and ‘a bit of testicular ache for him,’ isn’t that situationally useful?

    Googling, it looks like one has a 0.26% chance of vulvar cancer, so as body parts go, pretty normal. It looks like the uterus, ovary and breast are the only parts with a ladybit premium (~16% lifetime risk) and of that, 3/4 is breast cancer.

    • ahappygoluckyscamp February 6, 2011 at 4:02 am #

      Yeah but the 6 month depression was the way *I* reacted to it. plenty of women use it regularly without problem, same with the IUD huge swaths of chicks have it and love it. It just made ME bleed like a stuck pig. So the nuvarring is just what’s best for me. Body chemistry is just really subjective.

      And no. I’m sorry. A guy is more than welcome to take the pill but I just won’t trust that to anyone but myself.I actually don’t know why more men aren’t clamoring for their own version of the pill because when I think of the situation in reverse it feels like unplanned baby city.

      RE: Vulva cancer, I know it’s rare but fuck that noise it’s a thing that HAPPENS.

  6. Smurg February 6, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    I have the IUD, and other than some annoying spotting, my periods are completely okey-day and are lighter than usual. But I have the hormonal kind, I heard the copper kind is wicked for periods.

    Great, great article. I enjoyed every word of it.

    • ahappygoluckyscamp February 6, 2011 at 4:04 am #

      GOOD. GOOD FOR YOU. I WISH GOD LOVED ME LIKE HE DOES YOU.

      (also thank you!)

  7. Simone February 9, 2011 at 6:40 am #

    hello, found your blog via books of adam. you are hilarious. i’m really enjoying reading your entries.

    i, like you and many other women, have had many trials and tribulations in trying to find the right birth control. none as painful as yours, but i was on the nuvaring for years and i did really well on it as well.

    but when I was away for a semester abroad, my best friend dominque who had gotten on nuvaring because i recommended it to her, almost died from blood clots in her legs and lungs. it was extremely scary.

    she had never smoked and was young and healthy. she was on blood thinners for a year (so she couldn’t do anything physically demanding or even remotely dangerous like hiking because if she fell and hit her head she could die from a hematoma in her brain). also if she ever accidentally gets pregnant, the estrogen hormones produced by her body could kill her by clotting her blood (because of the damage/blood clotting caused by nuvaring) and so if she ever wants to have a baby she has to be on blood thinners before getting pregnant. but blood thinners are a rat poison derivative (warfarin) which would kill/deform the fetus, so every day of her pregnancy she will have to not only take blood thinners, but inject herself into her abdomen with a medication to keep the baby from being killed/deformed by the warfarin. (she also obviously can never take any hormones/hormonal BC again because it would make her blood clot.)

    upon doing further research on my own and from what the doctors she dealt with (because of her pulmonary embolism) told her, both she and i found that nuvaring has a much much higher incidence of blood clots and strokes than other hormonal birth control, seemingly because of the delivery system (i.e. hormones directly absorbed into the bloodstream via vag, so you are in fact getting a higher dose of hormones than the pill because of the delivery system. similar to the whole Patch debacle- women dying/getting blood clots because it was transferring too high of a dose of hormones through the skin.)

    i know how hard it is to find a good birth control. i’m not telling you that you should stop using it right now, i just want you to be aware of the possible consequences of using a 3rd generation, untested birth control device (also it is fuckin expensive!).

    it was the BC that worked best for me, but knowing what my friend went through and learning that when the doctor says “it has no more risk than other hormonal BC” it’s just because there haven’t been enough studies completed on the delivery system. all the evidence (many healthy, non-smoking young women dying or having blood clots) is pointing toward the opposite of what some doctors claim. they really only know what the FDA and drug companies say about it.

    i know it’s easy for me not to use it, because i know what she went through, and I almost lost my best friend because of it.

    but the reason i’m taking the time to write this all up in a comment to a stranger is because i just want you to be aware of the risk and maybe do some research of your own into it (i.e. the class-action lawsuits against organon for not revealing the actual risks associated with the nuvaring, death rates, etc.)

    here’s a short article about it:

    http://motherjones.com/environment/2009/05/nuvaring-dangerous

    just sayin’. do some research 🙂

    • ahappygoluckyscamp February 9, 2011 at 7:09 am #

      Oh jeeze, do you know this comment reminded me of one that I tried and discarded called the patch. I forgot about it! I’ll edit later…anyway I know that one was pretty much recalled due to the WAY higher incidence of blood clots. Nuva ring had been good to me so far and I’ve been on it for quite a while. Unfortunatly blood clots are the boogeyman of the birth control world.

      Sigh. Vagina, you and I just can’t win.

      • Simone February 9, 2011 at 7:37 am #

        no, we can’t win. 😦

        but just please keep an eye out for any symptoms of blood clots and go to the ER if you have any. better safe than sorry! well, better safe than dead, i guess.

        i feel like i’m being an over-bearing mother (to a stranger, no less. in the same city, incidentally, but still irrelevant) but i can’t help but worry about people being on nuvaring and not knowing that blood clots are way more likely with that version of BC (because of delivery system and type of hormone- desogestrel) than with pills.

        blood clot symptoms:
        http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/ebc/ebc_signs.html

        desogestrel=high blood clot risk:

        http://action.citizen.org/content.jsp?content_KEY=2316&t=notmypill.dwt

        i promise i won’t bother you about nuvaring any more 🙂

        i will just be a faithful blog-reader, a friendly ip adress in the blogosphere…

      • ahappygoluckyscamp February 9, 2011 at 8:00 am #

        Trust me I do my homework on these things. It’s part of the reason I never tried the shot.
        And no worries.

  8. Simone February 9, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    *address

  9. Norietta February 9, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    I also found your site through books of adam 🙂 Your blog is great.. definitely going on my bookmarks.
    Fortunately I have no problem with the pill so I have decided to never take the sugar pills.. which effectively stops your periods (but you very occasionally get spotting but with no cramps) and it stops the whole hormonal changes. No side effects so far and my doctor recommends it 🙂 yippee.. i don’t want any kids but I dont want surgery to tie tubes either (im 27 btw)

    • ahappygoluckyscamp February 9, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

      Wow! Thanks! =D

      And word up about the tube tying, that shit be expensive and it FAILS a lot too. Thanks for nothing, Science.

  10. White Rabbit NI February 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    I’ve been unable to try the pill for medical reasons so I’ve been using condoms because I’m terrfied of the others. I don’t like putting things up there in case I can’t get them out

    I wish I were joking

  11. Ida Stein October 17, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    I know I’m a bit late…well, very late, but can I just say that I love the Mirena Hormonal IUD?
    Yes.
    Yes I can.
    Getting it in was no big deal. I was 16 and had never had kids, and they dilated my cervix for me and it was AMAZING AND I LOVE IT. plus it erases your periods for, oh I don’t know, 5 YEARS? I just took some ibuprofen after and all the pain was erased. And I haven’t had a period since March. Of last year.
    Please please please check it out. Please.
    Cause yeah, the copper IUD makes you bleed more, but the hormonal IUD makes it STOP FOREVER.

  12. Jezabelle_D January 21, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    Pills can be so picky. I’m on my third variation of it, and finally FINALLY things evened out. My first one was just atrocious, instead of bleeding one week out of four, I was bleeding 3 out of 4. I looked forward to my sugar pill like it was god. The second was recalled, and we tried a new one.

    Getting the new one was weird, since when I went I was pushing my limit on the perscription. I called the doctors, they asked when my last period was, and I said 3 weeks. When I got there, they put me in the new mothers room and asked if I wanted natal vitamins.

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