Birth Control: An Inconvenient Truth

As a bisexual, one of the things people often ask me is whether I prefer dating men or women. While that is obviously a stupid question, given that I choose partners based on their awesome qualities and not on their genitals, there is one thing that kind of sucks about dating people who have penises: it requires me to be on birth control.

When I first got into my current relationship, which is my first serious relationship with a dude, I got prescribed Alesse – a lower-dose hormonal contraceptive pill. (I was recommended the lower dosage because I have a family history of breast cancer.)

The first 12-18 months or so were hellish. Bad cramps, heavier and more frequent periods than I was used to, and – worst of all – one or two days every month of total batshit moodiness. During those days I’d feel depressed, sometimes suicidal, and always listless and dysfunctional. Many a time, I called up my city’s distress centre to weep at them, or sobbed uncontrollably all over my boyfriend’s formerly dry shirt.

I had always heard that the worst side effects of hormonal birth control will tend to go away after only a few months of being on the drug, but that wasn’t the case for me. It took at least a year before things started to clear up.

After that, I didn’t have depressed days anymore (at least, not hormonally-induced ones), my cramps weren’t as bad, and I got used to the amount of blood, so everything was cool. Except that I had started to hate the process of taking a pill every day. It was annoying to have to remember to do it at the same time, every single day, forever. So I went to see my doctor to discuss other options.

She put me on the NuvaRing, a squishy, hormone-emanating circle that you shove up inside your vag and leave for 3 weeks at a time. I LOVE IT. It’s genius.

Initially I was worried that I’d get an infection from using it, namely BV, because that’s what tends to happen to me when I leave something in my vagina too long. So I would take it out during every shower and give it a rinse before sticking it back in. But eventually I discovered that this wasn’t really necessary. I’ve been wearing my current ring continuously since I put it in 2+ weeks ago and haven’t gotten an infection or even any discomfort.

The one thing that doesn’t thrill me about the NuvaRing is that it makes me a little bit hesitant to use penetrative toys, because I’m worried that the ring will fall out. But really, I shouldn’t worry about that. If it does fall out, I can just rinse it off and put it back in.

My partner and I also use condoms on top of my hormonal BC. Maybe that makes us paranoid, but whatever – we just really, really cannot get pregnant at this juncture in our lives, so we’re being careful. With proper use of high-effectiveness BC methods, condoms aren’t necessary.

Do you use birth control? What’s your current method? Would you recommend it?