Contraception was never really a big deal in my family. As soon as I got my first serious boyfriend (and probably before – I can’t really remember), my mother assumed I was having sex, so she sat me down and told me to go on the pill.
That was it. That was the extent of my sex education, along with a comment about using condoms as well.
In actual fact, I wouldn’t start having sex until over a year later. But when I did start having sex, I did what my mother taught me: I went to the doctors, got a prescription for the contraceptive pill (Levest, to be precise), and I’ve never looked back.
In hindsight, I probably should have done some research into the other contraception methods available. I vaguely knew about the injection, the coil, and the implant, but quite frankly they sounded like a lot of effort – and they sounded incredibly scary as well. The pill sounded easy. One small tablet, every day for 21 days, then a 7 day break. Simples.
Luckily, it turns out that the pill – or at least, Levest – was the right choice for me.
In fact, going on the pill was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I’m not only, y’know, protected from unwanted pregnancy, but I’m also happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.
Before I went on the pill, I had been struggling with mood swings. Not just in a ‘Occasionally my mood drops for no reason’ way, but in a ‘Oh look, I’m suddenly suicidal for no particular reason’ way. Whilst there were many factors that contributed to my crippling depression, these mood swings would always get worse before my period.
Within a month of being on Levest, my moods stabilised dramatically. Of course, part of the improvement was down to settling in at university, being part of a healthy and stable relationship, and just generally overcoming a lot of things that I’d been struggling with for a few years. But I also attribute a large part of my improvement to Levest.
Before going on the pill, pre-period, and post-period me were almost two entirely different people. Now, aside from occasionally getting snappy the day before my period, my moods remain stable.
Going on the pill has also significantly eased my other period symptoms. Back ache? Gone. Unbearable stomach cramps? Totally manageable. Headaches? Never. Now, the only thing that differentiates my period from any other week of the month is the fact that I happen to be bleeding from my vagina.
Going on the pill has also given me control over my body. Although I’m lucky in that ever since I started my period at aged 11 I’ve been regular, since going on the pill I can literally tell you what hour I’ll get my period.
Of course, a large amount of that control comes from the fact that I simply choose when I’m going to have my period. If I don’t want to have a period one month, I just start a new pack of pills rather than taking the seven day break.
But the pill has also regulated my already-regular period further. I know that three days after finishing a pack of pills, I’ll start my period – and I know that it will usually come in the evening. And this knowledge calms me.
I know that I’m lucky in my experience with the contraceptive pill. The doctor prescribed me the pill and it worked immediately. There was no ‘settling down’ period – I simply started taking the pill, and felt better pretty much instantly.
I also know that the pill isn’t for everyone. Even people who experience no negative side effects don’t like the idea of altering their natural state with hormones. And that’s fine. You do you, person with a uterus. But for me, the pill was quite literally a lifesaver.