Depo-Provera Is The Right Birth Control for Me
By Jillian Thompson, 18, Contributor
Originally Published: January 5, 2017
Revised: January 5, 2017
So you’ve mustered up the courage to make the appointment, sit down with your doctor to review the incredible range of options of birth control that are out there and choose the form that best fits you: congrats! Mixed in with the excitement at the thought of this new chapter of your life may be some concern about potential side effects. If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably heard horror stories: mood swings, weight gain, hair loss, etc. I know firsthand how worrisome the thought of experiencing this can be, but I encourage you to take a deep breath and stay calm. Not everyone shares the same experiences when it comes to birth control. Some people have no side effects, and for those who do, they’re often mild and temporary. Plus, there are pros for every con for every method of birth control.
It feels good knowing that I have taken control of my sexual health and my future.
Making My Choice
The best example I can give is my own experience. A little over a year ago I made the decision, with the help of my doctor, to start receiving Depo-Provera injections (also known as “the shot”). I remember being surprised at how many birth control options my doctor presented because I had only ever known about the Pill. After getting a rundown, I decided that Depo-Provera seemed like the best fit for me. The biggest pros I saw included the high rate of effectiveness that comes with the shot, the level of convenience, how painless the process is and the high level of discretion (no one would know I was using it unless I told them). It’s pretty straightforward: you just need to go to your health care provider once every three months to get another shot.
After my first injection, however, I began to experience side effects: some weight gain, mood swings and fluctuation in my menstrual cycle. The most common side effect of Depo-Provera is irregular bleeding, possibly for six to twelve months, but this typically subsides, with many people then reporting lighter or no periods. I remember feeling like I was losing control because my emotions were everywhere and my weight was somewhat fluctuating. But now I know that these things are perfectly normal and almost always temporary and that everyone reacts differently to hormonal birth control.
The Bigger Picture
I made an appointment to meet with my doctor and express my concerns, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made. She told me that what I was experiencing was not uncommon and the side effects would probably slow down after a while but that I was welcome to discuss switching to a different method.
After a month or two, my weight started to stabilize, and it became much easier to control my emotions. It was then that I was better able to take a step back and see the bigger picture. I may have felt different for a while, but the peace of mind that comes with having chosen hormonal birth control over less effective forms of contraception is worth the small changes in my life. It feels good knowing that I have taken control of my sexual health and my future.
Communicating With Your Doctor
To me, one of the best ways that you can account for and overcome the setbacks that may initially come with hormonal birth control is to consult with your doctor or health care provider about your concerns. They can help address any concerns you have. For example, I read online that there have been links between Depo-Provera and bone mineral loss. When I spoke with my doctor about this, she recommended a multivitamin for prevention and did a great job of easing my fears.
No matter what your goals or fears are about embarking on the journey of improving sexual health, it’s important to remember that there are options out there for everyone. It’s really all about doing your research and, with the help of your health care provider, finding the right fit for you. I’m so glad I did.
*Jillian Thompson is a contributor who lives in Texas.
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