This week is SHAG week at NTU, so one of our Student Mental Health Champions has shared their experiences with contraception to help raise awareness! Brought to you by the NTSU, SHAG week will be happening on all campuses throughout the week, for more information click here
By Alessandra Leone, 2nd year English NTU Student
The very first time I started using contraception was when I started university at eighteen. In 2003 there wasn’t the likes of Tinder or Match, but I used a similar service I found at the back of a Cosmopolitan magazine issue. Soon after I met my ex-partner and he suggested I take a form of contraception, so I went to the University of Northampton’s GP to discuss contraceptive methods. I asked straight away for the contraceptive pill, however, looking back now, I wish I had asked for more information regarding all the forms of contraception that were available mainly because of the possibility it might have caused my many years of depression.
Also, as someone who was diagnosed with dyspraxia and forgets things very easily, I would consider a contraceptive method which lasts a long time, and I don’t have to think about taking every day at a certain time of the day. I am not a big fan of needles or incisions, so I am personally using a patch as my form of contraceptive.
It’s good to know what your choices are. Here is more information of on the different types of contraception for females.
What forms of contraception are available?
The combined pill is made up of oestrogen and progestogen which are two hormones naturally produced within the body. The combined pill is over 100% effective if you take a pill every day for 21 days and then take a 7-day break in which during that time you will have your period. The main downside to the combined pill is that you must remember to take the pill at the same time every day, otherwise, it might not be effective. Recent scientific research has also associated prolonged usage of some combined pills with depression.
The progestogen-only pill
There are 28 pills in a pack. You need to take 1 pill every day within either 3 or 12 hours of the same time each day, depending on which type you’re taking. The main disadvantage is having to remember to take the pill each day within a certain time period.
The injection has the progestogen hormone and lasts 8 or 13 weeks (depending on whether you have Noristerat or Depo-Provera). The advantages of the injection are not having to remember to take it every day and it can be given to women who cannot take oestrogen. The downside is you need to remember to have a repeat prescription before the injection expires, your periods can become more irregular and you might experience headaches, mood swings and weight gain.
The patch releases the oestrogen and progestogen hormone within the bloodstream. The patch lasts for one week. You must change the patch every week for 3 weeks, then have a week off without a patch. The advantages include you don’t have to worry about changing it every day, the hormones don’t get absorbed within the stomach so even if you vomit the patch will still work and it might make your periods more regular, lighter and less painful. The disadvantages are potentially having some spotting between periods, remember to change the patch each week and possible skin irritation.
The implant (Nexplanon) is a plastic rod which is placed under the skin in your upper arm. It releases progestogen into the bloodstream and lasts for 3 years. The main advantage of the implant is that it lasts a long time. You don’t have to remember to take it at the same time each day, and it can be used by women who cannot take contraceptive methods that use oestrogen. When having an implant placed you should mainly consider that your periods might stop altogether.
Intrauterine device (IUD)
An IUD is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that is put into the womb. It works by releasing copper within the body, and it lasts for 5 and 10 years. It is fitted by either nurse or doctor and should only take 5 minutes to be fitted. The main advantage of having an IUD fitted is you don’t have to think about contraception for quite some time, and that once it is in place it works straight away. The disadvantage is that you might have some discomfort when it is fitted. Your periods can become heavier, longer or more painful and if you have an infection while you have an IUD it can cause a pelvic infection.
As a final word. Please don’t ever feel pressurised into getting a certain type of contraceptive because a friend or even boyfriend is wanting you to get it that specific method. Always seek medical advice and see what the GP advises you and always discuss your options.
For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
- Student Hub Sexual Health resources
- Free Condoms
- Healthy NTU SharePoint Sexual Health resources
- Support from NTU
- Self-Care books in NTU’s libraries
- Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
- Health and Wellbeing resources
- NTSU Information and Advice service
- Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
- Student Minds or Student Space
- 10 Keys to happiness