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Interview 55 - Natasha

Age at interview: 25
Brief Outline: Natasha recently graduated from university and does voluntary work for a charity organization. She decided to have the contraceptive implant but after two months started to experience heavy, irregular bleeding. She had it removed and now she uses the contraceptive pill. Natasha thinks that doctors should do more to warn about the ways in which an implant can messed up the menstrual cycle.
Background: Natasha recently graduated from university and does voluntary work for a charity organization. Single. Ethnic background' Indian

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Natasha recently graduated from university and does voluntary work for a charity organization.

When Natasha was nineteen years old she decided to have an implant. She wasn’t good at remembering to take the pill besides; a friend of hers was using the implant and highly recommended it to her. The first two months were fine but after that she started to have a lot of bleeding that lasted anything from a couple of months to several weeks. In short she realized that it has completely ‘messed up’ her cycle. Natasha had the implant for about a year but then decided to have it removed. She knew she could do so at any time if she was not happy with it. Natasha says that doctors do mentioned possible adverse effects, but what they should do is to warned women of the fact that they are messing up their system.

After her implant was removed she had very heavy periods for about six months and her GP sent her for a CT scan. The test showed a problem with her womb. Natasha went to see a gynaecologist who told her that her womb had an odd shaped and it can caused complications in pregnancy. Natasha felt she was treated like a scientific anomaly by the consultant rather than a patient and decline to be examined by medical students. At the time, she was twenty and found it difficult to cope with a medical condition that very few women had. In her experience, she has found that nurses are more sympathetic than doctors.

Natasha also considered using the contraceptive patch but changed her mind when she found out that it only comes in a colour that it is mostly compatible with white skin rather than darker skin tones.

 

 

Natasha talks about the consultation with her GP where she learnt that high blood pressure and...

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So I made an appointment with my university GP and I went in and I said, ‘I would like to get the implant’. And when I did it the implant was still new so they were still really, really excited to be able to have willing participants saying, ‘I want the implant’. And I went in and you have a consultation and they show you how it will look. They give you, I don’t know, some kind of mock up of a human arm because that is where it will go. I don’t know if you can see it on camera but can you, do you want me to show that it goes in there? Just so people can see what because this is where it will go for everyone.
 
Hang on let me see if I can take that.
 
[laugh]
 
Yeah we’ve got it right.
 
Yeah. Cool. Well that’s where it will go and they show you like a model and so you can see how it will feel. And it’s a tiny, tiny rod maybe the length of my finger that will go in your arm and it will release the chemical progesterone which is obviously a part of the pill as well. And it slowly releases it so you don’t really feel anything. You might get the occasional itching sensation but we always just chalk that up to, ‘It’s doing its job.’ And made an appointment. Got a consultation. They do all the normal things like check your blood pressure. Check that you are not overweight or anything because sometimes depending on a combination of these factors you may or may not be able to get it. It’s not as serious as if you are on the pill because you shouldn’t smoke. You can’t have a high blood pressure. So I was ok.
 
And then I made an appointment to go back a week later and they put it in. They numb the area because they put in a little bit of anaesthetic because they are actually putting something into you and then they slide it into your arm. And if you are like me I’m pretty squeamish so I just sat there thinking, ‘This is awful’ [laugh]. And they slide it in and you just have to and the feeling comes back and you get two scabs and it will and eventually it heals over.

 

 

For Natasha, the contraceptive implant worked well for two months but then she started to...

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And for the first couple of months it was great. It was fine but then it all started to go really, really iffy. I had a lot of breakthrough bleeding and I think, I think nearly for about two months it was like I had a period for two months. So I had two months without anything then two months with it, two weeks without, another four weeks with it. So completely ruined my entire cycle, just completely ruined it. And because I think the thing you have to remember is when you get these things put into your body they are releasing a chemical hormone into you that your body may naturally produce on a small scale but when you put it [the implant] in that amount is going to have an adverse effect on your body and the balance and everything which I think you get told but I don’t think you get told it in enough detail like.

But I found that doctors are very much, these are your options. Pick one that you think you kind of like and see how it goes. They don’t really warn you that when you put this into your body you are essentially messing yourself. You are messing up your cycle because after, I’ll get onto it, but after I took it out it took about six months for my cycle to go back to normal which, you know, it’s not very convenient really because you can’t really do anything because you don’t want to put more chemicals in after you’ve just taken chemicals out. And so that went on. So I had it in for about, I think, nearly a year before I was like, ‘No it has to stop. I’ve given it a fair shot and I don’t want to be dealing with this anymore.

So I went to my GP. I told them what was going on and they said, ‘Ok fine it sounds like you need to have it taken out’. And it’s, it was ok. I made an appointment. Went in, completely at my own, what’s the word, at my own convenience and I went to surgery and it was a really weird procedure. You lie down and of course they put in the anaesthetic again and they slowly slide it out and you can kind of. You don’t really want to see it when they slide it out because you know what it looked like going in. And yeah they took it out and there, and yeah. And it took a long time for it to heal up and like I said it took six months for me to, for my body to go back to normal.
 

 

Natasha advises women to make an informed choice and if in a relationship, to discuss their...

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If you decided to become sexually active or if for some reason your doctor said that you need to go on contraception to regulate blood flow or to control your really bad skin or something then ask your doctor for all the potential options. Ask them for all the options that you can have be it the pill, the patch, there’s the injection, the IUD, all of them. Really find out about the options that are available to you because what someone tells you is usually only part of what is out there. And once someone tells you what is out there find out for yourself. Go online because it is completely anonymous. No one is going to know. Find out about these different things. Ask your friends. If you have a sister ask your sister, ask your cousins, you know, but just remember that you’re. I think it’s really hard for girls because you feel like you are alone and you’re not and you’re really, really not because I think there is a certain stigma attached to it if you go on contraception it means, ‘Oh well she is clearly spreading it around isn’t she’. Probably she is not, she’s probably trying to be safe and that is a good thing.

And if you are in a relationship talk to your boyfriend because that’s the person who should be supporting you when you do something like this You know and if you do have a really good stable loving relationship where there is mutual respect and trust have him go to the clinic with you. Have him go through the options with you like saying ‘Well I’m going to get this. Do you feel comfortable with that or would you prefer that I got this or I feel happy with this?’ You know like make it be a really collaborative process about what you are doing because at the end of the day it’s your body but if you are in a relationship with someone, you know.
 

 

Natasha considered the contraceptive patch but it was not an option for her. The patch blends...

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And so you considered the patch, the contraceptive patch?

Yeah I did consider it because given all my issues it seemed like a very good idea but ironically the patches are pale beige which is said to, it will fit in with your skin tone, a little bit racist. Not going to fit in with my skin tone is it. You’ll just see a beige patch on my brown arm, not helpful. Obviously you could put it on your hip or I think it’s meant to be on your arm or your hip or the back of your thigh I think are the best places for the patch.

And I was like, yeah no, it’s just unsightly. Women have enough issues getting contraception, right? You don’t want to be, have everyone see that you have contraception. You know, it’s already. And also England has this very weird taboo thing that everyone is having sex but no one talks about the fact that they are having sex.
 

 

She felt that the gynaecologist treated her as an oddity when the ultrasound showed that her womb...

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What is the name of the condition?
 
Oh I can’t remember. It has a really fancy medical name, really fancy name that I can’t remember. Even my doctor couldn’t remember. She was like, ‘Yeah your womb just looks like this. She would literally just do that, like that’s ok. And I had ultrasounds and everything because, because even after I got the implant out and, my periods started resuming the flow was a lot heavier than I’d expected. I’ve always had quite heavy blood flow and I just chalked it up to being normal and probably being a bit brown because that’s a standard thing. But then I thought it was a bit weird so I thought, ‘Oh ok, I’ll go to a doctor, see what happens’ and the doctor got that look on their face, ‘That’s about, no that’s not normal.’
 
So they sent me. They sent me in for an ultrasound which was really strange. I was like, ‘I’m not pregnant. Why am I having an ultrasound?’ But they, obviously they did that and they told me that, that’s how. I found out when I was 20 that I could potentially not have children or if I had more than one child I could die which isn’t something anyone wants to hear, you know.
 
No not when you are 20.
 
Right so it was a pretty dark time and I can’t, I don’t really talk to my parents about that kind of thing because it’s. I think it’s a culture thing like you don’t really talk to your parents about your sex life or the fact that, you know, your reproductive organs aren’t exactly at reproductive strength. And so it was pretty hard and obviously a lot of my friends don’t really understand and stuff.
 
And my, my gynaecologist [laugh] because I got referred to a gynaecologist she just treated me as some kind of medical oddity. She said, ‘Oh can I get the students to look at you. We’ve not had one of these before’. I was like, ‘Well given its 0.03% not surprised’. But I didn’t really feel comfortable with that so I said, ‘No’ which you can do. You can say ‘no’ to having them have the doctor watch you, prod you around like you are some kind of specimen which obviously I am but maybe do it after I am dead so I don’t really know that you are doing it to me and stuff. It’s…
 
Ok so you didn’t want the students there?
 
No just because I had only just, I’d only just heard about it and I was coming to terms with it and it felt like a full-on violation that something that I’ve only just realised and now you are getting other people to look at me
 
All, I’ll be honest with you the nurses were a lot nicer to me than the doctors I think.
 
The nurses were a lot more gentle. They were a lot more understanding, just nicer actually. I know that’s part of the job description. My mum is a nurse but the doctors were very impersonal, very, very impersonal and I was thinking, ‘You just told me a massive piece of news that could potentially change, you know, but you don’t really seem to care.

 

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