Disclaimer: I have been thinking about writing a post like this for a while now. But I wasn't really sure how to go about it. Would it be too much information? Would people want to know? But, after talking it through with Boyfriend I think it's really important that I share my experiences with you. Woman to Women.
So this is a big fat disclaimer. THIS POST IS ABOUT CONTRACEPTIVES AND WILL BE VERY HONEST. If you do not want to read this post, click off now, I will absolutely understand.
The first method contraceptive I was ever put on was Cilest. It was when I was 18. I think it was at the time I was about to go to Australia on holiday, and then after would be heading off to university. As a teenager, when it was my time of the month, things in my "women's department" had always been a bit on the heavier side. I needed something to not only protect me, but that would also help to lighten the issue of...dare I say it....*whispers* being on my period.
Cilest runs on a 21 day pill cycle....you take one pill every day for 21 days and then have a 7 day break. Once you work out your schedule, it's a really simple process to follow.
And, for a number of years, being on Cilest really worked for me. Periods were a lot more manageable, I was very good at keeping on track with popping my pill every day (give or take an hour or two.) I was happy.
But then, after finishing university, and in my early-twenties (2009,) I decided I wanted something a bit more long-term that I didn't have to think about. That would keep me protected from any unwanted buns in my oven, and that would quite happily do its independent thing. I made the decision to go on the implant. And being on the implant suited me really well. I didn't have to worry about taking anything, my periods virtually became non-existent, and I didn't experience any weight-loss or weight-gain. My body stayed pretty balanced, and I could go about my life day-to-day, knowing that I had a little friend in my left working for me, keeping my body & hormones in check.
I had my second implant put in in 2012. It was perfect timing. I was just about to go off to Canada/America on an epic two week adventure. I didn't want to be worrying about having to take a pill every day when I could potentially be battling bears and wandering through the wilderness. Having the first implant removed and the second one put in was - I'm not going to lie to you - horrendous. I'm not the best with needles or sharp objects. They really make me freak the hell out. And because the implant had been put in my left arm, it was all the more traumatising. They numbed my arm, so I couldn't feel anything, but I had to keep my arm still, which was an issue in itself. MG had to basically hold my arm down while a little incision was made and the first implant taken out. Then the second implant had to be put in. I asked her what it was like to watch afterwards, and she said it "wasn't so bad after watching so many episodes of Holby City"....Take what you will from that.
But, after it was put in, and I had a few days healing time, everything went back to normal and I had no issues. I had no periods at all this time. Which I was fine with...to start....
...Until it had been in for about a year and a half (maybe a bit more.) After I turned 26 I had a bit of a life-review and made some serious alterations. I was on the road to self-improvement. Very happy And I had met Boyfriend. I knew that I was where I waned to be, and I really focused on myself. Boyfriend and I didn't hang about. In December 2013 we moved in together, and I started to think that he very much could be The One.
Boyfriend and I don't hold anything back in our relationship. If there is an issue. We discuss it. Especially medical ones. So, when one day, I randomly started spotting, he was the first one I spoke to. After not having anything for nearly 5 years, when you see blood, you are naturally going to be alarmed. I didn't have a clue what was going on, and I was really worried. It made me realise, being on the implant for so long meant that I had no idea what was going on in my Women's Department. All I knew was that I was bleeding. And that could mean anything. I was scared.
Fortunately I was okay. But Boyfriend and I talked again and I decided I wanted rid of the implant. I had had enough. So, a few months ago, MG and I went and I got it taken out. Not only would it mean that I could get my body in to a pattern and be more aware of what was happening, but it was also a less invasive means of contraception. If, in the future, I wanted to come off it, I would not have to be sliced and diced. The procedure was no less traumatising. Afterwards I was really, really shaking. Together with the Dr I saw, I was put back on to Cilest.
I think I had to wait a few days before I could start taking Cilest, and for that time period I was fine. Boyfriend was really understanding, and I was feeling pretty confident that I had made the right decision.
Until the nausea started. I can't exactly remember when it was, but it was really, really bad. To the point were just looking or smelling food would set it off. I will always remember how it started. I was cooking a paella and some garlic mushrooms, went to dish them out, took one look at them and felt the sickest I have felt in as long as I can remember. And the nausea lasted for a good few weeks. I went off certain foods in that time (black pudding being one....still don't really like it.) And sometimes just thinking about food would send me in to a state of wanting to vomit. Boyfriend was starting to worry. And me. We both had the same "Baby?!" thought. It was a really unsettling time.
After sitting down, taking a test to reassure ourselves, and talking it through, we knew it was to do with my hormone levels. Making the change back to Cilest had sent them haywire. Because even when the nausea was subsiding, I had really tender boobs. To the point where even wearing a bra would drive me crazy. I was achy, I was feeling sick, and I wasn't happy. After doing some reading and research, I knew that I couldn't give up. I have a 3 month trial pack, so I'd be going back to the Dr at the end of that anyway. All the concerns and worries that I still had I could discuss then.
I'm just about to embark on my final pack of Cilest. And after two months of taking it, my hormone levels are almost settled. Compared to being on the implant, I do notice when I'm about to have my "week off." I have more pronounced mood swings, my boobs get more achy, and my skin breaks out. That's something I'm still trying to control. All the spots appear on my chin, so I know it's hormonal, but I haven't had breakouts this bad in years so it does knock my confidence at times. Nauseous feelings have completely gone (although I never want to see paella or garlic mushrooms again) and I'm in to a good pattern of taking my pill each day (before work in the morning/first thing when I wake up.)
It hasn't been an easy road, but now that things have become more balanced, I am really glad I made the switch back. If anything it makes me feel better knowing that in the future, there is not a scalpel and freaking-out session awaiting me.
I would say that if you are thinking or going on a method of contraception/change your contraception, speak to your GP or go to a Sexual Health Clinic and talk to somebody to find the best method of contraception for you. The same won't be the best for everybody and you need to talk through the options available.
* These are only my own personal experiences of making the switch from implant to Cilest. Side effects will vary from woman to woman so do not assume you will experience the same as me. I am sharing my journey so far to give a totally honest approach to what happened to me personally.