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Contraception Conversations: Doctors still assume I use The Pill to avoid pregnancy

Fri 6th March, 2020

Reviewed by: Dr. Vamsee Thalluri

Tidings was made to open up the conversation on women's health, and for many that involves a confusing journey around contraception. It's something a huge chunk of women use, but is often only talked about amongst friends or with the doctor. Contraceptive Conversations is a running series that aims to open up the chat around contraception and just how varied everyone's journey can be.

If you have a pitch for Contraceptive Conversations, please send an email to Tidings@kinfertility.com.au

By the time I was 13-years-old I had already endured two years of debilitating period pain.

I’d have migraines that lasted days, severe nausea, cramps in my legs that were so bad I couldn’t move, and several close calls with fainting. By the time I turned 14, I was missing at least three or four days of school every month. It was clear that things we only going to get worse, so mum took me to the GP and I got a script for The Pill.

With my new prescription, I skipped my next few periods and for the first time in years, I wasn’t in unbearable pain every month.

It was strange being on The Pill as a child. I had to sit through doctors telling me how to use it as contraception years before I’d even had my first kiss. It felt grown up, knowing I was on something that adult women used for sex.

Now that I’m an adult, it turns out I’m probably never going to use it for sex - I realised I was gay only a few years after I started the pill.

Despite it being used for a multitude of different reasons outside of contraception, doctors still assume that I use it to avoid pregnancy, and I’ve had countless appointments where I’ve had to gently explain that no, I don’t need to use condoms as well, thank you.

When I was 19-years-old, I thought I would take a break and see how my body would react when I wasn’t on the pill. The answer? Confused as hell.

I spent my whole teenage years on the pill and without those hormones my post-pubescent body had no idea what it was doing. I got headaches, had weird cramps all the time, and my unregulated period was a monster. I was back on it after only a few months.

Now it’s almost been a decade since I started the pill and I still don’t know if it’s a viable long term solution. My periods wreak havoc on my body and need to be managed, but some research shows that long term use of the pill may increase the risk of some cancers. Really, studies over the years have produced incredibly mixed results, and the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says there is no significant risk to those on the pill.

I’m lucky enough that I can only remember shadows of the pain I went through every few weeks as a child, but I have no idea where I would be now if I wasn’t able to access that medication to manage my symptoms.

I wouldn’t have been able to pursue an education, keep a job, or function as an active and healthy human being. For such a common medication, the pill genuinely saved my life.