Yesterday I had my contraceptive implant removed. Don’t worry, it’s nothing gruesome, just a tiny plastic hormone releasing matchstick that goes under the skin in your arm. Maybe it’s a weird thing to write about, but it actually raised some interesting issues for me. If you’d rather not read about my contraceptive dilemmas though, probably best to look away now.
I had my first implant six years ago when Belle was one, and had it replaced when she was four. As this one approached the end of its useful life, I had been intending to have it replaced again, but then it struck me that actually this time round I’m not in a relationship, I’m not even really dating, and I began to wonder if such a permanent method of contraception was really necessary.
I looked up Implanon and its side effects and discovered that it is quite likely to cause one or all of the following six issues:
Hmmm… suddenly not looking so tempting is it? Is this just the price you pay for being a woman, that you have to pump yourself full of mind and body altering chemicals Just In Case? I can’t help but think that if it were men who had to expose themselves to such risks, that a lot more research would have been done by now to come up with something a bit less potent. Anyway, I decided to take the plunge and just have it removed. So now I am officially contraception free.
It is a bit of a risk, as I do have a history of being rather fertile. My first pregnancy was an unplanned but much loved result of the folly of youth, and second time round I conceived within a month of coming off the pill. It wasn’t unplanned as such, just rather quick. I had stopped taking the pill in a ‘let’s see what happens, it would be nice if I was pregnant in maybe six months or so’ frame of mind – you hear of people trying for months and months, being disappointed every time their period arrives – well, I have never experienced that disappointment.
And now I am left with some unexpected and conflicting emotions. Firstly, as soon as it was removed, I felt incredibly fertile. Today I have worn a long flowing skirt and feel like I want to sway my hips as I walk. I’m eyeing up babies is buggies, I can almost feel my stomach swelling. But that could just be the cookies. It’s all in my mind of course, but I hadn’t expected to feel quite so womanly about the whole thing.
The other side is a bit more complex. It’s the realisation that I have it taken out basically because I am not having sex. With it in, I could make believe it was just a dry spell, but making an active decision to stop using a contraceptive device is much more conclusive. There is something a tad depressing about that, but it has also made me feel strangely empowered. Using contraception when you’re single can sometimes feel a bit desperate, as though you are keeping up a pretence, waiting hopefully for any kind of intimacy that might get thrown your way. I feel like I’m stepping back from that, setting a higher standard, showing that I’m not about to fall into bed with the next man to knock on the door (normally the delivery person from the Sainsbury’s wine club). I am going to wait. I will be special.
Of course there is a tiny part of me that also wants to tempt fate. The doctor taking it out summed it up for me. “You know what will happen now of course,” she said, “you’ll walk out of here and bump straight into Mr Right.”
“Maybe,” I said, “but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
Photo credit: kellyv