PSA: Planned Parenthood is 100% necessary and I am grateful for the people that dedicate their lives to fighting for it, and for everyone who works at every location around the country. Here’s how to get involved if you feel the same or want to learn more.
Alarm goes off, roll out of bed, make some coffee, look in the mirror and realize you’ve got a lot to do. First things first, where’s my birth control? You’re two pills behind… again.
Every woman that has ever taken birth control knows that struggle of forgetting to take their birth control consistently especially the week after inactive pills. For everyone else who has never taken birth control: there are 4 weeks of active pills (hormones) and one week of inactive (placebo during period week). When you get your pill pack you pick the sticker that starts on the day you start your pills, so say you go to your pharmacy on Wednesday to pick them up, your pill week starts on Wednesdays so you peel off the sticker that shows Wednesday through Tuesday.
Getting a little personal here: I was on Reclipsen for about seven years. After taking the pill for so many years you’d think I’d just get used to it. It should be a habit, but nope. I guess each month I broke that habit by not taking the inactive pills and set myself up for disaster. I missed at least one to two pills a month. That’s normal. Almost every woman I’ve talked to, all my friends and family that have taken the pill have done the same thing. As long as you don’t miss more than three, you’re usually good and don’t have to take complicated steps to get back on track.
I moved from Massachusetts to California at the end of May. I wasn’t too concerned about making doctors appointments before I left because I was more focused on remembering to pack everything and stressing the cross-country drive to make any appointments. I got a job before I committed to moving to California so I thought I’d be fine. Again, nope. The company went under my second day on the job. So now I was 2,987 miles away from an appointment I didn’t know I had 3 weeks after I moved. My birth control had no more refills. I called my gynocologist’s office, begged for another month until I could figure out a way to get birth control in California and luckily she sent one to a pharmacy down the street from my new apartment. I had one month to figure it out.
I googled ‘planned parenthood orange county, ca’ reluctantly. It’s not that I looked down on Planned Parenthood, I just didn’t know what to expect. I had zero dollars to give to them when I got there or when I left. I was mind-numbingly broke, but I didn’t need to get pregnant and make my life even harder for myself so I made myself go.
Planned Parenthood is an experience in itself. You’re berated entering the parking lot by arrogant, bigoted protestors screaming in your car window and then screaming across the parking lot that you are killing god’s creation or whatever. Calm down, I’m here for birth control. Also, fuck off. When you get inside you talk to the receptionist through a phone so you’re information is private and then you’re buzzed into the waiting room where you finally feel safe. It took a while to get called in, but when I did everything went really quickly. The staff were some of the kindest people I’ve ever experienced as a patient. They all made me feel like I had nothing to be ashamed of and that they were on my side.
While I was getting asked the usual questions about medical and sexual history I asked the nurse about the arm implant birth control. I knew a few friends that had gotten it over the years, but my main reason was because I couldn’t afford birth control right now and a four year contraceptive and hormone balance seemed like the best option. I knew I didn’t want kids for at least another 4-5 years so this seemed perfect for me. I was given a booklet on Nexplanon to look through with the summary and symptoms. The doctor walked in and pretty much got straight the chase. All of a sudden she was leaving the room to get the implant and I was laying on an exam table.
The implantation was simple. It’s quick and there’s very minor pain because the numbing/pain relief shot. That shit hurt. There’s a pretty sharp prick and then a slow sting, but it’s worth it. You lay down on the exam table, lift whatever your less dominant arm and the doctor gives you the shot. After that they scoop what looked like a bobby pin into your arm (there’s a video of the implant on the website). The doctor feels like it’s secure under the skin, makes you feel it so you know too, and that’s it. They bandage it up a little and wrap your arm. The wrap has to stay on for 24 hours without getting wet and they it’s fine. The healing process I think it different for everyone so they didn’t really tell me much about that. I walked out without having to pay anything.
I know some people might read that and think that’s ridiculous, but I had nothing walking into this Planned Parenthood. I had been eating once a day PB&Js and choosing what bill I could be late on. Life is hard, but planned parenthood offers vital help for people like me and millions of others.
This was hell week. I could barely wash my hair without it hurting. I had a pretty gnarly bruise on my arm. They place is at the inner bottom of your arm so you don’t see it, but I felt like people could see it when I was out which grossed me out a bit. I left the bandages on for a few days hoping they’d fall off on their own, which they didn’t. I had to peel them off after around day three. In my experience, be prepared to barely be able to use your less dominant arm for week one. I had to switch sides of the bed with my boyfriend because I couldn’t sleep on my left side it was so painful.
No working out unless it’s cardio, no lifting yourself out of bed using that arm, and be cautious of hugs. You don’t realize how often your inner arm bump things until your feel a sharp pain every time it does.
I started regretting it around week two. I couldn’t believe how annoying it had gotten. There was a little pain here and there but it was starting to get itchy during the healing process. I couldn’t itch anywhere around it because if I bumped it I felt a sting all around through my arm. It’s what I imagine very minimal phantom pain to be like. I knew I was making it hurt by thinking about it so often.
During the end of week two I thought I was doing pretty good. My bruise was still pretty gross. Some of the purple areas where turning yellow, but it was still very visible. I could move it around, just couldn’t specifically touch the area without it hurting. I was editing a video for youtube while laying in bed and used my left arm to lift myself and scoot up to the head of the bed. The pain was so sharp in my arm that I felt it bounce down through my wrist and back up to my neck. I actually gasped and almost started to cry. I honestly thought I had bent the implant because the pain was so bad. The pain didn’t last long, but it was sharp, sudden and intense. I felt a hovering pain over the implant for the rest of the day.
Week three was a breeze because halfway through I didn’t even think about it anymore. I had a light yellow/blue bruise directly around the implant and the incision sight was scabbed over. I had very slight pains, but I pretty sure it was all in my head at this point. At the end of week three I started working out again and could lift weights, pushups, planks without a problem.
Today marks exactly four weeks since I got the implant. There’s no more bruising, that went away within week three. The scab is now a scar that I don’t think will ever go away, but that’s okay. I can feel it now without it hurting and within it making my stomach turn anymore which is nice. I don’t notice it’s there anymore.
While waiting for the first month to pass I was more focused on making sure it was healing right and my body wasn’t going to reject it than the actual hormones. I was on the same pill for the last six years so I figured the change could be really noticeable. I’ve noticed small things, but haven’t been able to fully adapt to the hormones. I figured I’d catch you guys up on that after the first few months when the hormones have filtered and settled into a cycle.
Overall: it’s worth it to try it out if you know you don’t want kids in the next couple years. I’m really glad I had this experience because now I have a tiny idea of why we all need to fight for the rights of Planned Parenthood. They are doing excellent work. They are making people feel like they are finding safety during a difficult situation and they’re providing care in desperate times of need. It also proves to me that everyone’s bodies are different. I looked up so many reviews of Nexplanon when I first got it implanted hoping people liked it and so many people posted negative comments. I looked up my old birth control which I had no problems on and again, negative comments. It goes to show that there are many opinions out there, but you’ve got to talk to your doctor and try it yourself to really know if it’s going to work for you. So far the adjustment has been pretty solid, now on to the full adjustment of hormone cycles when changing a birth control. Check back in for future updates!