19 Dec 2014

My Experience :: Nexplanon

A long long time ago, I wrote this post about the Nexplanon contraceptive implant. At the time, I meant every word in that post. The implant is reliable, very convenient and in the beginning for me didn't take long to settle into my body. Shortly after that post I stopped having periods and enjoyed about 12-14 months of period-free life.

Then this began to change. I want to write about this because choosing contraception is a big decision, and it's important we talk to each other and share our experiences.

Shortly after I arrived back on UK soil, I started having periods again out of the blue. Not normal periods, heavy and irregular periods. This was extremely annoying.

In March they settled down and I thought I'd be back to the previous bliss I'd experienced.

Then I moved to Sheffield.

When I moved to Sheffield I became very busy. Busier than I've ever been before. I was working my socks off and leaving my comfort zone on a daily basis - I was under a lot of emotional, mental and physical stress.

So when I would get home late after a really busy day and suddenly burst into tears, I presumed it was because I was under pressure. When I was suddenly overwhelmed with anxiety and paranoia, I assumed it was because I was stretching myself so thin.

I wasn't sleeping. I seemed to feel tired at the drop of a hat. My mood swings were starting to scare me.

And it probably was partly because of how busy I was. It was probably also partly due to moving to a new city and settling in. And due to still getting over Melbourne. And lots of other things. But something wasn't sitting right.

Over the course of about six months, I slowly became an emotional wreck. I genuinely felt like I was going mad sometimes, I wasn't myself at all and it was, quite frankly, very frightening because I felt I had no control over it.

My skin flared up into an angry, hormonal mess. The heavy, fortnightly periods returned and I became so low on energy that I assumed I was anaemic.

Then one day I noticed I gained a little weight. Not a huge problem, a few pounds here and there is okay right?

A couple weeks later I decided to have the implant removed, reluctantly - I like it because it's so reliable. I do not want children, so not having to worry about that in the slightest was the biggest bonus for me.

At the appointment, the nurse weighed me. I saw my weight and with horror realised I hadn't gained 'a few pounds', I'd gained one stone and two pounds exactly. A whole stone in just a few months.

I cried when I got home. I've never gained that much weight before.

Afterwards I started connecting dots and realised that the implant was causing me a world of problems. I know there's no evidence to say contraception makes you gain weight, but I'm just as active as I've ever been and my diet hasn't really changed at all since moving here, so my weight gain is apparently a 'mystery'.

Last night, I had a very relaxing evening at home. I had chicken curry for dinner, I had a bath and tidied my room. I did some personal admin and made my lunch for work the next day. I then settled down with a cup of tea to watch Black Mirror (really, really good by the way). Suddenly, I realised I felt like myself.  Suddenly, I realied I haven't felt like myself in months.

The only way I can describe this, is likening it to when your hearing suddenly comes back after you've been on a plane. You didn't really realise your hearing was affected until it came back.

I didn't really realise just how badly the impant was affecting me until I had it removed. I'd pretty much forgotten what it felt like to feel like myself and just feel my version of 'normal'. It's such a relief to have it back and I'm so glad I had that thing taken out! I'm really looking forward to feeling more and more like me again in the weeks ahead.

I believe the implant was making me very depressed, anxious and emotional. It was also causing me to gain weight (maybe not directly, but somehow it was). It was ruining my skin and my sleep, and it was also giving me a horribly irregular and heavy menstrual cycle.

I'm not 100% anti-implant. I do think there are huge benefits and I did have a great first year with it initially.

My advice to someone considering this form of contraception would be to find a way of keeping tabs on how you feel. Weigh yourself regularly, take notice of changes in your skin. If you stop having periods then start again out of the blue, I'd personally take that as a sign that it's time to have it removed.

Have you ever used the implant as a form of contraception? What was your experience like?

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