Some mixed and inconclusive thoughts about the pill...
I love the NHS for many reasons, one of them being the fact that it has given me the pill for free since I was 17. When I was younger they also gave me a lot of party bags full of condoms as well. You just can’t fault this amazing service.
However I do have a problem with the pill. My experience is one of constant compromise. I began on Dianette because it is a treatment for acne as well as a contraceptive, and as an acne treatment it was amazing. Unfortunately after a couple of years on this pill I was called into the doctor’s and advised to stop using it because of the extremely high risk of blood clotting. Since then I have also discovered that it has been linked to severe depression. So, not great then.
Following this I had a few hiccups about finding a new pill primarily because the doctors doing the prescribing knew little or nothing about the contraception they were giving me and ignored my concerns about the return of my (severe) acne. Things got a lot better when I realised the Practice Nurse could prescribe, and knew a lot more about what she was giving me. The fourth brand of pill I tried, which lasted for about two years, was Femodette. This was another combined pill, it didn’t make me spotty, and had few other side effects. So far so good.
About two years ago I started getting occasional but debilitating headaches which lasted about a day. It took me a while to realise that these headaches began the day before my period in the pill free week started. I was also having terrible nightmares in the days leading up to this period and generally feeling pretty crap. So went to the nurse who diagnosed it as an oestrogen withdrawal headache. She advised I try the mini pill. I tried Cerazette, which gave me so many spots I looked thirteen again, so I then tried Norgeston, which didn’t help the spot problem and was horrible inconvenient. The nurse I see is amazing. When I went back and told her I was feeling pretty low anyway and just couldn’t cope with the spots as well she took me off the mini pill immediately.
For the last three months I have been using the contraceptive patch. I was hoping this might be the solution to my problems but unfortunately the headaches have come back worse than ever. I’m going back to the nurse on Friday hoping for some miracle invention, but I’m fairly sure I will be disappointed!
Having a child is not an option for me at this point in my life (who knows if it ever will be?) and I am very responsible about contraception as a result. I love the freedom the pill gives me but hate the constant compromise I have to make, the days of illness I suffer because of it. I’m aware of the position from which I am whinging – being an educated, white, middle class citizen in a country with a health system that provides contraception for free is pretty damn hot, and maybe I should just be pleased with what I’ve got. But when I’ve got headaches so bad I can barely focus it is a little difficult to be grateful no matter how lucky you know you are.