Why I Chose Oral Contraceptives
For the first couple of years that I was sexually active, I relied on male condoms. But even though my partner and I were both super strict about using them correctly, the typical-use failure rate of 18% made me nervous. I needed something more reliable, and since I was part of a committed & monogamous relationship, I started researching hormonal methods. Of course, these presented me with a whole new set of concerns. Some females in my family have experienced very negative reactions to ‘The Pill,’ like fainting. The idea of a lower libido or an expanding waistline weren’t very appealing either. But what worried me the most was the risk for depression.
Despite my concerns, I reasoned that oral contraceptives would be a relatively cheap way to experiment with hormonal methods. And if the side effects turned out to be unbearable, stopping the hormones would be quick and easy when compared to more invasive methods (implants or IUDs). After discussing my options with a nurse practitioner at my local Planned Parenthood, I started Trivora.
Trivora is a combined hormonal contraceptive, meaning that it includes both estrogen and progestin. For practical purposes, this means that it has a slightly larger window for error when compared with progestin-only pills. It’s also triphasic, meaning that there are 3 different doses of hormones in each 1-month pack of pills. My nurse practitioner suggested Trivora partly as a way to test my body’s reaction to different levels of hormones. It was also on the cheaper side of the spectrum, costing about $20/pack.
My Initial Response
Just as I feared, the first month or so on Trivora was emotional hell. I was crying almost daily. I became consumed by obsessive & negative thoughts, to the point that I no longer felt in control of my own mind. My life goals floated away along with my motivation and desire for everything that usually made me happy. My history with depression had returned full-force. Needless to say, sex was the last thing on my mind. I was simply trying to function well enough to survive. And my partner was becoming very, very concerned.
I knew that it could take up to 3 months for my body to adjust to the new medication, so I (somewhat dangerously) forced my way through the symptoms I was experiencing. Thankfully, somewhere in the second month, everything calmed down. I gradually started to feel a desire for life again, and I returned to a state of emotional stability. Now, after almost a year, my partner even swears that my PMS mood swings (pre-Trivora) have disappeared.
My Positive Experiences
Most importantly, I’m not pregnant. Granted, this has a lot to do with my strict adherence to taking ‘The Pill’ at the exact same time, every single day. But still, Trivora has done its #1 job. I also have a much more regular menstrual cycle, with lighter menses. (My periods were very heavy and painful before.) I haven’t gained excessive amounts of weight. I haven’t suffered from headaches or fainting spells. Physically, I feel pretty much the same as always.
Why I’m Still Looking for Another Method
While Trivora was a good starting point for testing the waters of hormonal birth control, I can’t help but feel that it’s not the perfect match for me. For one, I am experiencing a few annoyances like increased breast tenderness and possibly a decrease in sexual desire. (It’s hard to determine what is due to hormones and what is due to other factors, like stress or relationship familiarity.) Also, the cost, though conveniently spread out over time, is still more expensive than other more effective methods.
For this reason, I’m currently researching Mirena and Skyla IUDs. Both of these are top-tier methods that have lower levels of progestin (and completely lack estrogen). Of course, they also have their own risks. Starting a new method is always a little scary. What works perfectly for one woman may be disastrous for another. But until I find I solution that I’m truly satisfied with, I’ll keep trying. And I’ll also keep reporting my experiences for other women who are searching.
What are your experiences with oral contraceptives?
Update: I have since switched to Enpresse and, although it is simply a different generic form of Trivora, my breast tenderness has almost entirely disappeared. My emotional state also seems even more stable. At this time, I am content with my method of contraception and have changed my mind about getting an IUD.