Intervbiew 54 - Victoria

Age at interview: 24
Brief Outline: For the last two years, Victoria's method of contraception has been the implant. She is very happy with the implant and hasn't experienced any side effects such as putting on weight or irregular periods. She thinks it is important to make an informed choice when it comes to contraception.
Background: Victoria recently graduated from university and is currently seeking work. She would like to work with young people in the area of sexual health. Ethnic background' White British.

More about me...

Victoria, single, recently graduated from university and is currently seeking work. She would like to work with young people in the area of sexual health.

Victoria decided for one of the long acting reversible contraception; the implant. For the last two years, she has been using one and she hasn’t experienced any side effects such as putting on weight or irregular periods. In fact, her periods stopped two months after she had the implant.

Victoria thinks it is important to make an informed choice when it comes to contraception. Before deciding what type of method to use, she visited official health websites like NHS Direct and read information leaflets about it. She wanted to talk to her GP about the implant but to her disappointment, she just gave her a leaflet and sent her away. She then, looked online for the nearest Family Planning clinic and went to the drop-in time service. Her experience there was very different. The nurse went through the implant leaflet with her; explained possible side-effects and she was allowed time to ask questions. Victoria decided right away that the implant was what she wanted. A second nurse appeared and again, she was explained step-by-step the procedure and the forms she needed to sign. She was also told that she had the right to go back to the clinic at any time and have the implant removed. Victoria thinks that, for her, the implant is the best form of contraception and plans to have another one put in after the current one expires.

Victoria went to the GUM clinic after discovering what she thought was a ‘lump’ in her cervix. At the clinic she was asked about her sexual life – something she didn’t mind, and offered to be tested for all STIs. She wasn’t particularly concern about STIs but thought it was a good idea. The ‘lump’ in the cervix was anatomical and she tested negative for all infections.


Victoria went to a Family Planning clinic to find information about the implant and decided she...



So I thought about getting it so I went to my doctor. I made an appointment and I said, "I'm thinking about getting the implant," to my doctor. And yeah, well this is probably just my doctor, they handed me a leaflet and said, "Go away, read it. If you still fancy it come back," and I thought well that wasn't really what I wanted. I wanted to talk to someone about it and find out about it. So I was a bit sort of miffed. So I went online and looked up my local GUM clinic and there's a Family Planning clinic nearby with a drop-in time the next day. So the next day I went to the drop-in time and went into the meeting room and they, and I said, "I'd like to talk to someone about the implant," and they were fantastic and they got the same leaflet out and talked me all through the leaflet and then they told me all about the possible side effects you can have, the good things about it, the bad things about it and asked me whether I still wanted it at the end and I said yes, I do.
Who did you talk to?
The GUM clinic.
Who? A nurse, a doctor?
It was a nurse I think who worked there. At the drop-in centre, they all come and they call your name and you go into a special room and talk about it. And I said, "Yeah, I quite fancy having the implant," and then they said, "OK well if you want, we can go and get the nurse and give it to you today." And I thought well that's good. So I said OK and they went and got another nurse because they needed two.
Well I went into the room with the woman and she talked me all through and by the end of it I decided I wanted it. The risks of thrombosis were lower than those with the pill and I was especially intrigued by the fact that my periods might stop because there was, that would be a very beneficial effect for me. So I said to her, "Yes I'd like it," and she said, "OK that's great." So because she's already taken me through the leaflet [coughs], pardon me, she didn't have to take me through that again which is what she would do if somebody who had came in and said, "I want the implant." So they take you through the leaflet but I'd already gone through it at that point. She then checked that I knew what was going to happen and she told me that someone would come in and give me a local anaesthetic in my arm just to numb the area. They would then inject the implant, put a plaster on it, wrap it in a bandage. Twelve hours after I could take the bandage off, twelve hours after that I would have to take the plaster off and replace it with a plaster that they gave me, just a normal plaster and then after that if I had any problems to contact them and she gave me a contact slip in order to be able to contact them.
And then she said to me, "So you've got to sign these forms," and there was a form to say 'I understand what the implant is and someone's taken me through the information,' and then I had to sign one that said it's fine for someone to give me a local anaesthetic, I'm not allergic and then I had to sign another one to say I think it was just for their data collection so I was twenty one, twenty two at the time and I was twenty two and I understood what it was what it was and someone had gone through with me and it was all fine. So there was those three forms and I just sort of read them and signed them and it took about three minutes because it was very easy to do and then she said, "OK if you just sit there the nurse will come in," and then she was with me while the nurse, the other nurse was there because they need two and they did take my blood pressure and it's normal, it always has been and they also asked me if I was pregnant or not and I'd taken a preg

Victoria was told that she could have the implant removed if she wasnÂ’t happy about it.


You have the option to go back. If you've got any concerns, you have the option to go back even within a month and get it removed if you don't like it. It's completely up to you and any woman who says, "Oh they wouldn't take it away from me," and like, "My doctor said keep going for three months and I didn't want to." She obviously didn't go on the internet and type in Family Planning clinic in my city because it's not hard. My doctor was rubbish, gave me no information and when I contacted the reception to see when I could make the appointment she offered me one in about three months' time which I didn't want, I wanted it sooner than that. So my doctor was absolute rubbish which is why I went to my local GUM clinic. And there were two others attached to the university hospital that I could have gone to but I went to the Family Planning one just because it was closer. Three in one city and, you know, it's not a big city because I was in [city], three but you know so if you're living anywhere that doesn't have one you're probably in a village in the middle of nowhere. It's impossible to not have it done and if someone tells you they can't take it out, go somewhere else because you're entitled to have it taken out if you don't want it.

You were told that?

Yes. You don't have, they recommend that you keep it in for three months because after that the side effects will stop and you'll probably like it but if you don't want it for the three months or you put it in and suddenly you've gone up half a stone already and you're bleeding all the time, you're very welcome to have it taken out and go back on the pill or go on to condoms or go on to any other thing you want but it's your choice and it is always your choice and that's what they stressed to me which is why they were so different from my doctors. Your choice, if you want it you have it, if you don't come, we'll take it out.


Victoria explains why she is happy using the contraceptive implant. She plans to use it long term.



So the implant is your method of choice?
It is my method of choice for birth control. I really, I can't see anything wrong with it. It's very, very good for me and so it'll be my method of birth control from now on and if I accidentally get pregnant on it then I'm one of the unlucky ones. And I will probably stick with the implant even if I did get pregnant on it. But apparently it won't harm your baby if you're on the implant and you get pregnant.
You were told that?
Yes. It's like being on the pill and getting pregnant. It won't harm your baby, the extra hormones.
And I haven't had any problems with it, with it becoming infected or anything and there was that big fuss ages ago in the media about all these women getting pregnant on the implant. And it was about 586 women got pregnant on the implant out of 72, 000 women. So come on that is the actual success rate of the implant, 99.99%, it's better than the pill even. Because less than one in a thousand people gets pregnant on the implant and they all say how they couldn't feel it which is astounding to me because you are made to feel it by the person in the clinic before you're allowed to leave because you have to sign on the card that you've felt where it is. But they checked it all over, they gave me a leaflet afterwards, if I had any questions, who to contact and everything and since then it's been great, I haven't had any problems with it. I had two periods after I had it, one of which lasted seven days which was rather long for me; one of which, a month later lasted two days and I haven't had a period since, it's been absolutely fantastic. No period pains, no mood swings, no extreme weight gain, it's been the best choice I've ever made.
Any concerns about using the implant?
The only concern I really was one about when my fertility would come back but the nurse in the clinic talked me over and showed me the medical data for it and for most women it's exactly like the pill, your fertility goes back to normal after one month in 99% of cases. In 1% of cases it took six months to return to normal but that's, that's fine anyway and there's no-one who's reported any loss of fertility from it.
OK. There is no data on that?
No data on that but since it's been around since the eighties I expect we would have seen data on it by now.
OK. And what about long term use or….?
Long term use is fine. You can use it however long you want it. It lasts for three years but you can have it taken out at any time if you don't want it in, don't suffer in silence. And you then, as I said as I'm going to do you can have it taken out and a new one put in straight away, you can run them on like that and I don't think there's an upper limit of use for them. To be honest I wasn't warned about one of an upper limit of use but I'm going to use them as soon as I've stopped having children. Once I've had my children and I don't want to get pregnant again I will go back on it if I can.
Any other advantages for you with using the implant?
My mood swings stopped which was very good and the weight gain and increased appetite and nausea that I had from the pill, that all stopped which was good. I forget I've got it. I just don't realise; and the main advantage is that I don't have periods anymore because I used to get dreadful pains, I used to not feel very well with them and I've saved a mound of money on using tampons as well. I don't need to worry about 'well I'm going on holiday, am I going to have a period or anything.' Or you know

Victoria thinks that it is a good idea to always use a condom even when not engaging in...


Lots of people don't realise that if you're, you know, just sort of body rubbing or dry humping or just touching it or using your mouth or something you can catch all manner of things from it. But you just don't realise because you think, 'Well it's not sex, I'm not going to get pregnant so I'm not going to get an STI." You can catch anything anyway and indeed pubic lice you catch without having sex is the main one that you would catch. But all sorts of things that use, the way you touch the bodily fluids, you can catch something, you know like possibly not Chlamydia but Herpes definitely you could get that and that's incurable and Gonorrhoea you can do that as well, HIV it requires probably blood as well as sexual fluids but if you've got a cut on your finger that's enough, you know, things like that.

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Victoria thinks that NHS [Health] Direct is very good. For initial source of information she...


The internet is so useful, you can type in anything on Wikipedia and it will come up with it. Type in anything on Google and there's a million Family Planning clinics out there. NHS Health will tell you everything you need to know about every form of contraception that you want. Just that, all I did was type in, when I wanted the implant, I typed in 'implant' in Google and saw what came up. First entry Wikipedia, second entry NHS Health, it's not hard. I read a few books and I talked to friends before I wanted the implant to find out if any of them had it, whether it was good for them. One girl let me feel hers, you know, it was very easy.
Do you have any favourite sites that you would recommend to others?
NHS Health.
NHS Health?
I think it's very good because not only that but if you have a question about something, any illness on your body or if you're worried that you might have caught an STI especially then you can call them and leave your details and they'll call you back and discuss it, a registered nurse will call you back or you can email them your details and the registered nurse will call you back so it doesn't cost you anything. They will call you back, they will discuss it, they will tell you whether they think you might need to see a doctor and if they think you might need to see a doctor or a nurse about your problem they will make you an appointment for you. So it's completely and absolutely trouble free. Wikipedia – OK people, some people go around using their life to make fun of Wikipedia and messing up the Wikipedia articles and stuff. It's unlikely though if you go to one on the implants someone's going to have written something stupid on there. And it's always a very good source of initial information and if you typed in say the implant on Wikipedia it would have something like say, 'Links to the pill,' and 'Links to a condom' and stuff so you get to see all the other types out there as we’ll.


Victoria felt a lump in her cervix and decided to go to the GUM clinic.


Yes I felt a lump inside me and it was especially uncomfortable when I used a tampon, I could feel it there and it was slightly uncomfortable and I'd been watching 'Embarrassing Bodies' which I found are very interesting, sort of, I like medical documentaries, I find it very interesting and so I felt where it was and I felt that doesn't feel normal to me. I didn't think it was normal. So I went to a GUM clinic to check which was a slightly interesting experience as I'd only gone in there for a lump and I got questioned about my entire sexual history which took you know, a good ten min, a good ten minutes with the two people in the world I've had sex with but they wanted to know what time each relationship started and ended and how long have you been sexually active, what protection had I used and everything. Finally we got to the examination room and they told me it was just my cervix and drew me a picture of why it felt so weird and then tested me for all the STI's.  So they just inserted a swab into my cervix, one swab, about ten seconds in there, that was it and then took a tiny bit of blood to test for HIV.  And they sent me a text, two of my test results saying, "All your test results came back clean." And then handed me a bag of free condoms and I went on my way.

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