Can you point to one specific decision in your life that changed things for you pretty drastically or permanently? It seems like almost everyone has some sort of story like this, whether it be a big life event or a small one. For many, this could be the decision to get married, to go back to school, to quit your job, to start a new one, and so on.
My life-altering experience was finding the birth control shot, Depo-Provera. Since finding it, it is the birth control method I swear by. Why am I so stoked about this birth control discovery? It empowers me to choose when I will start a family and with whom, it is discreet, and it puts the choice of whether or not to have a baby at all firmly in my control.
What Are Your Options?
Whether we know it or not, we as women have a plethora of birth control options available to us (at least for now . . . ). For many people, the pill is the first that comes to mind, but there are a host of other great options available. Some of them, such as sponges and condoms, are readily available over the counter.
Sadly, we know these over-the-counter forms of birth control aren't 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. They do offer, though, protection from some STIs if used properly, and since they are available without a prescription, they are better than nothing, for sure!
And, of course, there is the pill in its many formulations. There are also implants that can be inserted into the arm, as well as IUDs, which may or may not dispense hormones, depending on the type. There are even implants that can be inserted into the Fallopian tubes to act as a sort of tubal ligation without the need for surgery.
What I Considered
The first reason I chose this method was convenience. Look, I have a busy life. So do many of us. And this reason alone is supported by plenty of research on the birth control pill. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 15 percent of women aged 15 to 44 report skipping at least one pill per month, and 16 percent report missing two or more. Of those missing two or more pills, 27 percent resulted in an unwanted pregnancy.
Wow. To think an 18-year-plus commitment can stem from missing just one or two little pills? That's a "No, thank you!" from me. I prefer the Depo-Provera shot over the pill simply because I know all too well that I am human, I forget things, and I don't want a baby right now.
I will admit that I looked into Essure. But when I found that this most likely would cause permanent scarring that could keep me from getting pregnant ever, even if I later wanted to, this wasn't an option. There is a chance, slim though it may be, that my maternal instinct may exist and may kick in.
I also looked into an IUD, which is a reversible form of birth control. However, after reading about the issues others have had after getting the Mirena IUD, I chose to take a hard pass on that. I briefly considered a copper IUD, but I decided the additional benefits that hormonal birth control provides me — like less acne, for example — outweighed the benefits.
I needed something that lasted long-term. I needed something that didn't require me to remember to take a pill every day. I needed to still have the option of becoming pregnant in the future. I needed something, too, that was under my control.
Maybe I spend a bit too much time looking up urban legends online, but when trends like "stealthing" are being perpetuated in our culture, I just can't leave something so important in the hands of someone who may have bad intentions. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have to worry, but we can't always know who's going to royally screw us over, can we? (Pun intended.)
Why I Chose Depo-Provera
Enter the Depo-Provera shot. The birth control shot, as it is commonly called, is highly effective, with a more than 99 percent rate of successful pregnancy prevention, according to Planned Parenthood. Not only that, but the shot is also extremely private to use. All it takes is a quick 10- to 15-minute visit to your doctor roughly every three months and you're protected. And no one can take that protection away from you as long as you continue to get your shots on time at regular intervals. Most failures from Depo-Provera come when women wait too long between shots.
The birth control shot is also reversible, meaning that I have full control over when I want to start trying to get pregnant. And there are extra benefits, too! For example, by taking the shot, I run a lower risk of endometriosis and uterine cancer. Plus, while the shot does work differently for everyone, many — including me — experience less acne and shorter, less painful periods.
I could blast the benefits of the birth control shot to the skies for days! However, I am a realist, and I know no one form of birth control works well for everyone. For example, before I started the shot, I had friends tell me they'd heard women experience a lot of spotting while on this form of birth control. Even knowing this, I still chose to give the shot a try, and I barely get a period at this point.
Recently, I went on an investigation to figure out just how unique — or maybe totally normal — my experience was. In an email to POPSUGAR, Dr. Kenneth J. Oken, chair of the OB/GYN department of UPMC Pinnacle, sang the benefits of the Depo-Provera shot:
"Depo-Provera is an excellent form of birth control with very good compliance rates from the women who choose this method. Many women will experience lighter periods, and for some their period will go away completely, with very few side effects. Women do need to get an injection every 12 weeks, but most women are very happy with their decision to use this form of birth control," Dr. Oken told POPSUGAR.
Of course, that's not meant to discredit anyone who claims to have had a different experience. Everyone's body is different, and there are many possible adverse side effects that could come with any form of birth control. Some who take Depo-Provera may experience side effects like weight gain and mood changes. Other women may simply have concerns about how long the shot takes to wear off before they can get pregnant, which does vary somewhat.
Again, these are common possibilities with almost any form of birth control, so the most important thing is being open to exploring your options. Do what you have to do to protect yourself while keeping your body healthy and your mind happy and at ease. While no drug works for everybody, Depo-Provera has been life-changing for me. If you think it could work for you too, please don't wait! Talk to your doctor and get yourself protected.