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Interview 26

Age at interview: 21
Brief Outline: Every month she experienced painful periods.
Background: Lives in shared accommodation with two other friends and works part-time as a barmaid and studies at University.

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Describes her efforts in trying to register with a GP in the inner city.

Describes her efforts in trying to register with a GP in the inner city.

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When I first moved here I kind of realised that I didn't have a doctor here and it was a problem I'd had in [place] last year when I was living away from home. I got given a doctor through college and I tried to go and apply to go and join the doctor that I had, the college doctor that's kind of right next to the college but where I go to college is quite a long way from here and so I wasn't in their catchment area so they wouldn't take me there. And I also tried to join the doctor which is just round the corner, like two minutes walk away but they were full so they wouldn't take me. 

So I phoned up, there's a, well I phoned up NHS Direct because I needed to get the pill, this is why this kind of became more urgent, is that I wanted to get the pill because I was having sex and I'm not, I do but I'm a bit kind of don't like using condoms, I'm not very good at using condoms and I just want to be on the pill basically because it just makes everything a bit safer. And so I went, yeah I tried to find the local doctor and I tried to go to the doctor at college and neither of them would take me. 

I phoned up NHS Direct and they said to phone up Find a Doctor Service. So I phoned them up and they gave me the phone numbers of a few doctors to phone. And I tried to phone them and I got through to two who said I wasn't in the catchment area so for some reason the Find a Doctor Service hadn't understood where I lived. 

And I phoned up another couple and they didn't answer the phone and so I phoned Find a Doctor back again and they said "Oh okay well we'll sort it out for you and we'll, within two weeks we'll send you a letter saying you have and a doctor," but, oh and they said, when they said this to me they said "Is it urgent?"  And I said "Well quite yeah," I mean because they can do it quicker if it's urgent, otherwise it takes two weeks.  

And I said "Well yes it is quite urgent," and this guy, who actually I thought was quite rude, he kind of was like "Well what is it, what's it for?" and I said "Well I need contraception," and he just kind of snorted slightly and was like "It'll take two weeks." and I was like "Okay." 

So anyway I mean I still don't have a doctor because they sent me this letter and you're supposed to go and register after they send you this letter, they send you a letter saying "This is your doctors, go phone them up and go and register with them."  And I tried to phone them a couple of times and no one answered the phone and I left a couple of messages saying "Can you phone me back?". 

But I mean I should've realised they wouldn't because I'm sure they're very busy so I probably should have continued to phone until I got through to them but I just kind of I'd got the pill from the walk in clinic by then so I kind of just didn't really bother about the doctors. 

 

Describes her experience of attending an over-stretched inner city walk-in family planning clinic.

Describes her experience of attending an over-stretched inner city walk-in family planning clinic.

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It's just completely over-subscribed and loads of people, loads, it must've been at lest twenty people turned up after me and got turned away and were told "I'm sorry you know you have to come next week and come back at half 12 because you need to be here before it starts otherwise..." everyone gets like given a number and you go in turn and stuff. So anyway I went and saw the doctor there and she was very nice, she seemed very young, I think she might've been younger than me, although it doesn't seem possible but it's a bit scary because I haven't had that happen yet.  

 

And she was so flustered and kind of, I mean she was lovely but she was obviously just really you know had a really hard day and everyone was getting pissed off because they were waiting so long. And she gave me, she gave me this pill, they only had one type of pill and they don't give you a prescription for it, they just have, they just had, well I don't know if they only had one type of pill but kind of maybe one type of mini pill and one type of the other kind of pill.

 

I mean it was alright but I mean the fact it was, you had to wait for so long and the fact that the doctor was quite young and inexperienced and you know very nice but just, it was obvious that it wasn't as good as it could have been. I didn't feel very kind of, I don't know it just didn't, nothing about it was as good as other places I've been.  

 

There's kind of Brook clinics and things I've been to before, it's all a lot more organised and you know you don't have to wait for so long and then when you do go through you get to spend more time with the doctor.  

 

I mean I did kind of feel like I kind of didn't want to take too long with the doctor because there were a couple of people waiting and she obviously you know was well over the time she was meant to be there already and I mean she had a tiny little room and they were actually, the other thing, one of the reasons it took so long that time was that there were supposed to be two doctors and they'd only actually got one doctor, someone hadn't turned up, one of the doctors hadn't turned up, so it just didn't feel like it was kind of being run particularly well.

 

Talks warmly about her first sexual experience.

Talks warmly about her first sexual experience.

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Well my first, my first kiss I was thirteen and then I started going out with the best friend of my first kiss and went out with him for four years and he was my first sexual experience so it was all a bit weird.  Yeah I started having sex when I was fifteen and a half with my boyfriend and we'd been going out since we were thirteen so we waited a long time. 

 And then I kind of I wish I'd done it sooner really, I just used to read the girl magazines and they said that you should wait and so I did for ages and then I kind of realised that we were in love and we trusted each other and we'd kind of been doing everything else other than having sex, it was literally just the kind of sexual intercourse we'd been avoiding and it seemed a bit silly after a while because you know there was no reason not to.  

So yeah and like I said we used condoms and I was on the pill and then we stopped using condoms and I was just on the pill. 

What was your main motivation for having sex the first time?

Because I wanted to, I don't know, I just wanted to... I think, I mean at that age there's a real, there's a bit of a thing about you know, sex being something that boys want and girls have to kind of try and keep them away and you know for as long as you can. And I think that's kind of what stopped me having sex because I thought that was what was happening.  

Because my boyfriend didn't used to pressure me into it, but he was always like "Oh can we have sex, please can we have sex?" and I'd be like "No, no we mustn't we're not allowed to."  And then I kind of just, one day I realised that I wanted to as well and I didn't really know why I was saying no all this time, so we did and so it was nice and so we carried on doing it. So that was it really.

So in a way you discussed it first?

Yeah, yeah I mean we used to talk about it a lot, it wasn't, you know it wasn't something we didn't talk about.
 

She would only have a one night stand with someone she knew and felt safe with.

She would only have a one night stand with someone she knew and felt safe with.

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Yeah I mean I have, I've had sex with people I've had sex with only one night but I'm not sure that I'd ever be prepared to do it with someone I didn't know. One person I had sex with one night was a friend who we just went, we were out getting drunk together and we ended up in bed together so, I mean it is a one night stand but it's kind of different because you know the person well so it's not like just going back to a strange man's house. And the other person was, he's actually become a three night stand now but it was a one night stand kind of.  

It was a friend of one of my friends who I'd kind of met vaguely before as well so also was, I just felt safe. I'm not, I kind of like the abstract idea of being able to just go home with someone you've just met but I'm not sure that I'd be prepared to do it because I don't think it's that safe, I don't think I'd feel safe. 

I'm not sure that I'd feel, if I went home with someone like that I don't, I'm not sure that I'd feel able to not have sex with them and I wouldn't want to put myself in that situation where I had to have sex with someone. And well I'd feel like I had to have sex with someone. And for some reason if you kind of know someone before it might feel a bit, I think I'd probably feel more prepared just to say "Actually no I don't really feel like I want to do this." 

So yeah I mean I don't think there's anything wrong with them but I think it's probably wise to, it's nice if you at least have something in common with the person you're having a one stand with, it makes you feel a bit safer.
 

Might feel differently about having a pregnancy than she would have done as a teenager.

Might feel differently about having a pregnancy than she would have done as a teenager.

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Very important. I don't know if it's more or less important because I think at this time in my life it would start to occur to me to keep it, which it wouldn't have done until quite recently. But I feel kind of, since I've been in my twenties I've started to think abortion might be a slightly more difficult decision for me.  

When I was much younger it was always kind of, I always kind of felt like if I had a baby, if I got pregnant I'd have an abortion and that's it and that's kind of, it was quite simple and I didn't really, there wasn't so much to think about. But I think now I'd feel like maybe actually I could have a child so there are more, there's more, it's a more difficult decision, I think there's more kind of things in play about the question, I don't know.  

And so in a way that kind of makes it more important to me that I don't get pregnant so I don't have to make that decision because it would be quite hard.

 

Would consider having a child on her own, but thinks it is important for a child to have a man in...

Would consider having a child on her own, but thinks it is important for a child to have a man in...

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So you would want children?

Yes, I would like children one day.

At what age?

I don't know, I'd like to have finished my education and I'd like to maybe have begun to have some idea about what kind of job I was going into and maybe kind of started being or be well into a career and I'd like to have met someone I want to have children with. I mean whatever age it, I don't know if it got to where it was quite late I might consider having a child by myself I don't know, although I think it's quite important for children to have a man in their life, whether it's you know their father or whatever but I think kind of...

A father figure?

Yeah a father figure even if it's not actually their father I think it's quite important. But yeah, I would want children one day.
 

Boys are less willing than girls to talk openly about sex - boys need the equivalent of girls...

Boys are less willing than girls to talk openly about sex - boys need the equivalent of girls...

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I don't know. I talk to my male friends about sex a lot as well actually and I often get the impression when I talk to them that they don't really have those kind of conversations very often, like it's kind of quite, they're quite shocked by the fact that I'm prepared to talk about it. I think girls are a lot more open.  

And I think boys may be wouldn't want to admit to having done anything wrong in bed, or had any embarrassing experiences whereas girls are a bit more willing to just kind of go "Oh my god I did this the other night," or "this happened and it was really embarrassing."  

Most blokes always have that kind of macho thing of not wanting to, I don't know admit they were wrong or admit they might have done something silly or whatever so that's probably a problem.

In your opinion what information do young people require but are not getting?

Boys could do with the kind of sex tips you get in Cosmopolitan, they could do with a magazine with those kind of things in because Cosmopolitan is very, very useful for girls I think to kind of... whereas boys, a lot of boys don't really understand girls very well I don't think and kind of what girls like in bed. 

And obviously it varies a lot from girl to girl as well but I think there are some things that it's quite, you know obvious. And girls will exchange sex tips much more readily than boys will I think, because of the macho thing I think blokes wouldn't want to admit they wouldn't know how to do something whereas a girl would be quite happy to say to a friend "Oh you know, how do you give a blow job?" or like "What do you do when you do this?" without being embarrassed about it.  

So I think boys could probably do with some way in which they can kind of find out about stuff like that, other than girls having to teach them which tends to be what happens I think. Which is okay I suppose at least it happens, but I don't know.
 

Describes how bad she felt every time she had her period.

Describes how bad she felt every time she had her period.

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I was, when I first started my period I was about twelve or thirteen and I can't remember when, exactly how old I was and they started being really painful but they got, I mean they've always been kind of you know had period pains but for a few months they were so painful I actually threw up a few times.  

And like at college I had to, I mean at school I had to go and just lie in the Matron's office for the whole day and wasn't able to move or I was sick, it was just really horrible.  And I tried taking Mefenamic acid I think it's called but it didn't really help and then I went on the pill and that kind of helped.  

I mean I still always get painful periods but they're not, you know they're copeable with, I just take loads of pain killers now and they're okay. But recently again I've started having, over the last couple of years I've kind of almost passed out to when I've been on my period in the first couple of days which I think is something to do with my low blood pressure, I don't really know.  

No doctors seem to be quite sure but they think it's something to do with the fact that I've got a very low pressure and an irregular heart beat as well. So it's all a bit, it's just such a pain! 

'when I was doing my A levels I actually just took the pill continuously for, you know didn't have a period break because they're just so annoying when I have them and they just kind of disrupt my life so much. But I mean at the moment apart from last month  when I had my passing out phase again, usually they're okay now and I'm not on the pill and they're alright. So I think they're probably getting a bit better, hopefully.
 

Changed from the mini pill as she was bleeding continuously.

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Changed from the mini pill as she was bleeding continuously.

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What kind of pill you took the first time?
 
It was, I think it was, well I took, I think I kind of took a few different kinds, I tried taking the mini pill because I had had kind of, in my whole life I've had about five migraines and so my doctor was like you know "You should probably take the mini pill."  But it didn't really work for me, my periods are quite kind of forceful and they don't really [laughs] I have to take a really strong pill or I just basically bleed continuously, they don't really, I so stopped taking that.
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