This article will be quite an in-depth, and possibly graphic, account of my personal experience of having the Nexplanon contraceptive implant for the last six months. I have been suffering with quite a few of the listed ‘side effects’ but at the same time there has been external factors that can also trigger them. One thing I can promise is in this post is blood. Lots of blood. If you didn’t think periods were involved with the Nexplanon contraceptive implant, then sorry dear you are quite the idiot. If you don’t want to talk or read about period blood, menses, flow, pads, tampons and all the like, then leave now.
But can I just ask why? As there is nothing more natural. And if you happen to be a guy with or without a female partner, this post will also be important for you because the Nexplanon doesn’t just have side effects for the girl with it in her upper arm, it has dire consequences for everyone around her. Read on to find out.
I had heavy, excruciating periods growing up. My periods started at 12 years old. I was outside playing in the garden at the time, and I went in feeling sick and oh god the blood. Never was I so thankful for college handing out those free packs during sex education days. My sister, bless her, rushed straight out and bought me my first pack of Always regular flow pads with wings (she preferred those), a packet of chocolate animal biscuits and a purple Sunny D (because Sunny Delight was the thing back then, when they were still allowed to be 90% sugar). When mum came home from work, she too presented me with a large box of animal biscuits, even though she didn’t know (my mum is a bona fide psychic). I recall my first month I truly believed you had to wear a pad for ever, and so I did, even when my first period stopped, and it wasn’t until my second was over mum and sister realised. After laughing they explained it was only for the blood part. Sex Ed in schools needs to be less British and more Frank.
But anyway, they were heavy, but it was fine. Then, at sometime around 16, Aunt Flow decided I was getting a bit too easy a ride. Cystitis hit. Cystitis is a horrible, sharp pain in your lower abdomen that makes you think you need to pee, but you can’t. You will run to the bathroom repeatedly, and there will be lots of menstrual blood, but no pee. And the pain does not go until you pee. Only way for it to pass is to keep drinking – tea, water, especially cranberry juice. Bitter bitter cranberry is your best friend. You will feel nausea and like you can’t even swallow the liquid, but you must. The heavy flow/pain was relentless, every month. Some months were better, but nearly every one started in the middle of the night, waking me up drenched in red, in pain at 3am. Thank God for on demand TV. This one time I was brushing my teeth and the pain that shot through my stomach was so bad, I woke up in the bath tub with part of the shower curtain pulled down with me. I remember dreaming of fireworks for that two minutes I had blacked out. Fortunately I have not had a repeat experience of this, and I look back on it and laugh frequently, but there have been close calls where spots have covered my eyes and I can only lie down and not move. I get dizzy when I stand/look up too quick whether I was on my period or not as well.
However, at 22, it seem to get worse. The first three days were near unbearable. If I was lucky, I would start Friday night, then by the time I had to go work on Monday I could handle it. But if not, ouch. I would be shaky, I couldn’t concentrate. I am a writer, having been a journalist,and now I am working as a PR. Have you ever tried sitting in an office chair trying to concentrate on the blank document in front of you while in agony, shaking, feeling like you are going to throw up? A couple months have forced me to go home early, as I needed to lie down and
just wallow in self pity it just wasn’t productive needing to run to the ladies room every half hour. And then last year I began throwing up. Luckily my new job meant my desk was less than 5 feet from the toilet, so no accidents. But ew. I left early, obviously, but I had an important appointment that afternoon. I can tell you it wasn’t fun even though, thankfully, I kept everything else in. Well not the blood, never the blood.
Considering Nexplanon Contraceptive Implant
In the UK, Nexplanon is the only long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) implant available. It is a small rod that goes in your upper arm (weaker arm, so if right handed, goes in left arm). It lasts three years and pumps an amount of progesterone into your body, thwarting the egg release in your ovaries – voila, no pregnancy. However, it also has the handy effect that it can help reduce painful period BUT (a very big but) it has different effects for individuals. Some people can get heavier periods, light periods, no periods, irregular periods, and a whole host of side effects. You can find out more on Nexplanon.co.uk but the American Nexplanon.com is more user friendly and actually has more info on side effects (Americans make money out of medication, whereas UK is covered in red tape). Like most of us, I looked at the list that seems to be on every A1 folded paper in a paracetamol box: headaches, acne, dizzy, something, this, that, rare, common, blah blah blah. I didn’t take it seriously, I was still looking at ‘some women don’t get any periods’. You already imagine buying nothing buy white shorts (you never would, but it’s a nice thought).
We are going to bypass the actual getting Nexplanon on October 3 because it was a very bad day for me and memories make me want to cry, scream, set things on fire. But that has nothing to do with Nexplanon contraceptive implant, it just happened to be the same day… shh. It’s fine.
Then three days later I lost my job because “reasons” that I was promised would be written in a letter but weren’t so, yeah. But a week later I had a trial at an even better job that has proven to be much more fun and satisfying. It worked out well for me, as I couldn’t start said job until November, so I had lots of time off just to play my Nintendo DS and generally let my body stop freaking out over this foreign object trying to take control.
Living with Nexplanon Contraceptive Implant
The first month I bled. I was concerned to say the least, but it may also have been other issues that was going on with my body. Doctor prescribed me more hormones which made the eternal period stop, and then things went back to a normal one week a month rota. BUT, this was not painful, and was just like, meh. It was uncomfortable, and still heavy, and I was pissed I went to the trouble of sticking something in my arm only for nothing to have changed.
And then my period came the week before Christmas. The usual, at least I wouldn’t have it for the holiday week right? Well, it came back, albeit very, very lightly. I was basically spotting. But did so for a full week. I just ignored it as it really was light enough to not even need a pantyliner.
Then January, no period. February, no period. March, STILL NO PERIOD. I was quite elated by this, then late March/ April… spotting. I could deal with this. Spotting got a bit heavier, it’s cool, I had some pantyliners. Then I went away for the Easter weekend and my period proved to just be doing some kind of crazy Benjamin Button on me and got heavier each day. Fortunately the single pack of liners I took with me covered until I got home to my pre-Christmas stash, and now, about 14 days later since the first spot, I am just anemic and upset and not willing to leave the house.
Time to talk mental health
Three months without a period at all is still a fricking sweet deal though, am I right? Well, actually Nexplanon has some cheeky side effects that are just as bad monthly cystitis. First, the sex drive/libido is just… zilch. Much to my darling partner’s dismay. You just, don’t want to be touched. Or don’t ‘feel it’. And the mood swings! Oh the mood swings. I laugh at myself. I can be all lovey dovey one second and then a hateful harpy of utter destruction the next. And before y’all meninist chauvinistic twats go “oh, isn’t that just every woman ever” these wild turnarounds are being caused by progesterone – the most male of the lady hormones. The best example of this is from the other night, when my partner sweetly asked if I ‘wanted more rice’ with dinner. I unsweetly turned around and said NO JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. Why was the offer of a second helping so abruptly offensive to me? I have no idea. I have quite a thing with food anyway, I don’t like being watched, or people leaning over my food, or putting more food on my plate for me, so these former feelings have just been highlighted and intensified. It’s like the Captain American drug where the bad becomes very very bad, and the good becomes great. Except I am not transformed magically into Chris Pine, I am effing Hydra and I will destroy everything in my Red Skull madness.
Then there’s the anxiety. I have always had mild social anxiety, I don’t like making phone calls but I did it. I don’t like going out (extreme introvertness, a byproduct of being subject to years of high school bullying) but I can get on and do it. But between January and March, it has gone full blown crazy. Yet, since bleeding again at the start of April, I have felt a little calmer. My personal thought is that maybe the hormone had built up too much, and then exploded… out of my womb and ruined my second favourite pair of knickers.
Anxiety has been a really big problem the last three months. I have to make phone calls at work. But sometimes I just can’t. I don’t mean it makes me uncomfortable, I mean I had to run to the bathroom because I cried for an hour, my heart was racing, I’m hyperventilating, I had migraines, I couldn’t concentrate, my head would just focus of negative thoughts and repeat them. It was really scary, and it was happening once every week at least, at work and at home. Fortunately I have a golden star of a friend, so if you ever do get these anxious feelings, go read her blog instead at Motivational Hamster, it will really help.
Are these feelings due to Nexplanon or because six months ago I had a severe trauma, lost a job, still in a probation period whether I keep the current one, living 340 miles from family, moved in with my partner for the first time and moved house in February. So my situation is not the average, and is more likely to make one anxious. But Nexplanon side effects due say anxiety, and other women have said once they took the rod out, all those feelings went away. I fear if I go to the doctor at this point they will suggest taking it out, and that means my days of cystitis will return. And I really want a three month menstrual break again…
Three unproductive months
The point of a contraceptive implant is so you cannot reproduce (and not just because a low libido means no making!) for which Nexplanon is doing just fine. But I find I am rather unproductive in the rest of my life too. I want to craft and write. I have everything I need, Before Christmas/around October and Novemberish time, I got to 50k words for my novel. But since, I have barely been able to look at it. I have had great ideas for it and how to make the storyline gel better, but I just don’t have the concentration levels to sit down and do it. Even with this blog, I have countless things lying around to review and write about, but I just can’t make myself sit down and write it. I get serious doubts, which as a writer you knew about all along. But I get anxious, my armpits get itchy, hands sweaty, the palpitations start, keep swallowing, feel a severe need to make tea (oh wait, that’s just Britishness). So I go and play my Nintendo DS instead. GOTTA CATCH THEM ALL.
Lumps, bumps, and the lack thereof
I was never a super spotty teenager, but I didn’t have clear skin either. It got better in my early 20s, but now at 25 and with Nexplanon, I get the off white head of doom. Usually just in time for client meetings. Friends who have Nexplanon too have suffered a worst fate than I when it comes to acne, so bear that in mind. HOWEVER, we moved house in Feb, which meant since packing in January, and our general laziness/business of not fully unpacking yet, means we haven’t been working out in our home gym YET I LOOK SLIMMER. I don’t know how this has happened or if it is in any way connected to Nexplanon, because I eat plenty, and there is the very real possibility the stress from the often debilitating anxiety is making it so, but my tummy seems to lie a little flatter than usual. … … … Woo!
So that’s my personal account. I am a sixth of the way into the Nexplanon journey. It is both good and bad, and hopefully the severe anxiety isn’t going to cost me my PR career! If you are thinking about Nexplanon Contraceptive Implant.