My Experience Getting an Implanon

By Zulma R.

Zulma is a teen writer who is part of the Females Against Violence Education Group based in San Francisco. We asked this group to write about their thoughts on topics related to pregnancy, contraception, teen health, and teen rights. The thoughts below do not necessarily represent those of the National Center for Youth Law.

When I became sexually active my partner and I both talked about birth control, but I didn’t have the courage to actually go and get it. It was until we both got scared of the possibility of me being pregnant when I decided to talk to my doctor.

After I took a pregnancy test and the result was negative my doctor encouraged me to get birth control. She set me up an appointment for a teen clinic. After discussing the different forms of birth control I decided to get the Implanon.

The Implanon is a flexible implant about the size of a matchstick and is placed under the skin of the upper arm. It’s 99.9% effective and it lasts for 3 years. When I went to my appointment at the teen clinic I was asked to take another pregnancy test before we proceeded to get the Implanon just to double check.

Afterwards, the doctor gave me a room and talked to me about what the process will be like and informed me of other forms of birth control in case I didn’t want to get the Implanon. After I decided I wanted to go through with the implant, the doctor had me lie down on a hospital bed with my left arm spread. She then numbed my arm with an injection, which I thought was the most painful part of all the process. We waited for the effect a few minutes and after I was no longer able to feel anything the doctor inserted the implant on my arm through a thick needle. I did not feel a thing thanks to the injection but I still had to hold the doctor’s assistant’s hand.

After I removed the bandage from my arm the next day after getting the Implanon, I had a big bruise and it hurt a lot. My mom quickly noticed it and was really upset with me for not telling her. After a few days she began to understand me and everything was back to normal.

Everything was going great with my mom, but I had mood swings and bad cramping for the first 3 weeks after getting the implant. Today I no longer have any side effects and best of all my period is gone. I believe I made the best choice by deciding to get birth control because I am definitely not ready to be a mother and want to enjoy life without any worries.

You can learn about your right to access birth control by visiting the Birth Control section of our Legal Guide.

When Getting Birth Control Becomes A Challenge

Kayla is a Cell and Molecular Biology major at San Francisco State University. She is an intern/Brand Ambassador for Nurx, an intern for ASI Women’s Center, and a Sexual Health intern for the HPW Health Promotion and Wellness Center Team at SFSU. Her hobbies include writing spoken word poetry and taking care of her two pet chinchillas.

I know from personal experience that obtaining birth control can be daunting and aggravating.

Nearing the end of my senior year of high school, I wanted to get birth control before I entered college. Things were getting more serious with my boyfriend and I also wanted to be protected before entering the college scene. But I had one major roadblock: strict parents.

I began to devise a plan for when I could drive to Planned Parenthood to get birth control without my parents knowing. I used the classic excuse, “I’m hanging out with Danielle today”, which was pretty much the truth since she did come with me for support. I remember feeling so uncomfortable and awkward sitting in the seats in the waiting room surrounded by other people. Why did I feel like everyone was staring at me and judging me? Or was that just paranoia? Why was this so nerve wrecking?

I remember not knowing how to answer some of the questions the woman asked me about my insurance, so I just told her I did not have any. She put me under Family Pact, which allowed the birth control to be free. I left Planned Parenthood with a year’s supply of birth control pills, feeling like I had won the jackpot. Danielle and I giggled in awe at the goodie bag filled health products, including a variety of brightly colored condoms. I felt sneaky and accomplished because I’d succeeded in independently getting birth control without my parent’s knowledge.

A week into taking my pills daily, my parents found out. I wasn’t as sly as I thought I was. My dad found my pills in my purse and became outraged, taking the pills away. My parents shamed me and told me I was not ready. But I knew that was my decision to make.

I went back to Planned Parenthood to get more birth control. But I was unable to get more for free since they already gave me a year’s supply. This time I would have to pay. I paid $30 for only three months, only to go home and have my father steal my birth control for a second time.

I felt helpless and wondered what options were available for girls in situations like me. I faced many difficulties just to obtain my birth control. I felt powerless to protect my body. I felt like no one had any resources to assist me.

It wasn’t until I finally got away from my house that I was able to take control of my reproductive health. As a college student, I discovered there were services out there that would deliver my pills directly to me at school. One of these, the one I found, was Nurx. Using Nurx, I was able to get my birth control delivered to me at college, a safe place where I could receive them and not worry about my parents confiscating them. While I still had to hide the pills from my parents on visits home, I knew that I could, and would, always have a delivery waiting for me at school when I needed it.

While birth control delivery services are great, they won’t do you much good if you live in a super strict household or if your parents check the mail. But they might be a good option for you if you leave home, or if you’re able to get the delivery somewhere that isn’t your house, like a school or work mailbox.

For girls in the same situation as me, it can be a struggle to protect yourself and ensure you get the birth control you need. If you struggle with overly strict parents who think you’re not ready, try to get them on your page by asking your parents to speak with you calmly. Explain that you’re the one making the decision, that it’s your body, and your right to access birth control when you need it. Explain that taking away birth control won’t prevent you from the activities you’re engaging in, and that you’re making a smart, responsible choice by even seeking out birth control in the first place.

If your parents still refuse to let you get the pill on your own, or continue to confiscate your pills when you get them, you can seek out help from another trusted adult, like a school counselor or nurse. You can also look into other birth control options, such as the IUD, patch, injection, or ring, which last longer and don’t require you to take a pill every day. Ultimately it’s your body and your right to choose.

Getting my birth control delivered by Nurx at school was the best solution for me. Once I moved away and figured out an easy way to get birth control delivered to me at school, I finally was able to have the responsibility of controlling my own sexual health. I felt free. I was in control.

You can learn about ways you can prevent pregnancy, and resource you can use to access birth control in California, by visiting our Birth Control section.

On Love, Relationships, Sex, and Protection

This piece was written by Juli K. a youth member of the University of Michigan’s Adolescent Health Initiative’s Teen Advisory Council.  Juli attends Eastern Michigan University and is pursuing a career in social work. Since she was 17, she’s worked for adolescent sexual health under organizations such as Michigan Youth (MY) Voice and Teen Adolescent Championship Teen Advisory Council (TAC TAC). She plans to continue working with adolescent sexual health as part of her social work career. 

Do you ever think about your first love? I often think about mine from high school. Despite how things ended between us, if I had not gone through some of those experiences then I don’t think I would be the person I am today.

When I was 14, being in love was never something I would have imagined happening to me. I would watch The Notebook and The Titanic, silently protesting because I just knew that someone loving me as much as Noah loved Allie or Jack loved Rose wasn’t possible. But if you have seen these classic romance movies, you would know that despite all of the love being given and received, relationships have their consequences. I learned this firsthand with my first loving relationship.

My boyfriend at the time was a few years older than me and had already engaged in sexual activity with previous partners. Although I was always very conscious about taking care of myself, I let my guard down when it came to him. We eventually started engaging in sexual activity ourselves.

When I was 15, we had a condom break. My periods were never regular, so when my period was a few days late I didn’t really worry about it. But after that incident all I could think about was how I wanted my period to come to ease my mind. After a few weeks had passed and I still did not have a period, I sat down and questioned the possibility that I could actually be pregnant. My mom was a teen mom, and I saw how that affected me and my sisters’ lives growing up.

All of a sudden I had to think about things I never dreamed of imagining myself thinking of at 15. How would I tell my mom if I was pregnant? Would I be able to terminate the pregnancy? What if my mom and boyfriend pressured me to keep the child? What would people at school think? All the over-thinking made me nauseous.

A friend of mine picked me up one afternoon and took me to Walmart where I did my pregnancy test in the bathroom. I would not have dared to take it at home; what if my mom found it in my garbage?! So there I was, in a Walmart bathroom, peeing on a stick. I patiently waited while the lines showed up, very clearly showing that I wasn’t pregnant! I was so happy I nearly cried. It was then and there that I decided getting on birth control was something I had to do to protect myself even more if incidents like this did happen again.

Deciding to engage in sexual activity with someone is quite a big decision. It’s important to protect yourself and your partner because unfortunately, being caught in the heat of the moment can actually take a toll on your future. I’m sharing my experience not to scare people from having sex, but to raise awareness about how important it is to have protection and communication between you and your partner. Even if things feel good and right, they can still have long-term consequences that could affect your future.

For more information about your questions around sex and relationships, your rights to birth control and emergency contraception, and information about pregnancy, visit our Youth Legal Guide.

Q&A: Let’s Include LARCs in Our Sex Ed Conversations

Angela Roberts is a writer for Teen Voices, the global girl news site and mentoring program of Women’s eNews. She is a junior at Peters Township High School in Western Pennsylvania. Being involved in the Teen Voices community changed her life; it exposed her to the burden of inequality women feel around the world and inspired her to become the ardent feminist she is today. Writing empowers Angela, who loves adding her voice to the growing body of work speaking out against sexism, racism, and injustice. NCYL interviewed Angela about her work on the piece “Where Teens Don’t Get Sex Ed, IUD Goes Unmentioned
(Editor’s note: Angela attends school in Pennsylvania, where the laws guiding sexual education curriculums are different from those in California. The California Department of Education provides explaining the current sex education laws in the state. You can learn more here.)

1) What made you interested in working on this piece? What drew you in to the topic of sexual education and the IUD? 

I first started researching IUDs when Katina Paron, the editor of Teen Voices, emailed me an article published in Mother Jones about the device. Reading this article was my first time ever hearing about the IUD.  As I read more about the device and its success rate, I began to wonder why I hadn’t heard of it before. It didn’t make sense that I had never learned about a method of contraception that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends as a “first-line contraceptive choice for teens.” 

Yet as I thought about it, I couldn’t remember learning about any sort of contraception in Health class. And I wasn’t alone. As I spoke with my female classmates, I realized just how little information about the IUD there was in my high school.  Out of the 14 girls I talked to, none could tell me any specifics about the device’s function and only two even recognized its name.  When I asked them about the sex ed they had received, my question was often met with laughter.  One girl even quoted the movie Mean Girls to describe the sex ed she received in high school: “Don’t have sex because you will get pregnant and die.” 

Others noted that, although they never felt pressured to stay abstinent, they never learned enough about sex for them to pursue any other option safely. Another girl stated that her sex ed was limited to a single class period during which her teacher read a list of silly, irrelevant misconceptions about sex while the class giggled. Hearing their stories drove me to learn more about my school’s sex ed program and how it measured up.


2) What personal questions did you have that you were trying to answer while working on this piece? Did you find those answers? What did you learn from this experience? 

I agreed to write this article before I even knew what an IUD was. I was also blissfully unaware of the inadequacy of the sex ed I had received. But now that I know just how inadequate my education really was, and how it’s affected my ability and that of my peers to pursue healthy relationships, I’m furious. Refusing to educate kids about contraceptive options and sex is not only unreasonable and ridiculous; it’s also dangerous. 

People who are against providing sex ed to students don’t realize that abstinence-only education does not prevent students from having sex. It stops them from having safe sex. Abstinence only education also creates an atmosphere of shame and indecency around sex – an atmosphere that condones slut shaming and bullying.  Students are also not taught about consent or how to diagnose an unhealthy relationship. Writing this article forced me to consider the importance of providing kids with sexual education as well as the long-term consequences for not providing it.

 

3) What about working on the piece challenged your thoughts and assumptions about sexual education and the rates of IUD usage? 

The more I read about IUDs, the more I recognized them as safe, effective contraceptive options for teens – and the more infuriated I became that my school provides students with zero information on them.  Because I was writing an article about this issue, I researched it way more extensively than I would have if I were just reading about it on my own.  After interviewing my female classmates and discovering just how little they knew about contraceptive options, I felt like it was my duty to expose the inadequacy of my school’s sex ed program.

 

4) In your work with your peers, what experiences of theirs struck you the most? What surprised you the most?

I was most shocked by my classmates’ lack of knowledge on sex and contraceptive options.  The atmosphere surrounding sex ed at my school also surprised me.  When I emailed my Health teacher about the IUD’s absence from the sex ed curriculum he responded, “The scope and content of the topics we are permitted to address in our personal wellness classes do not include these various forms of birth control methods.”  He did not say whether or not he agreed with the present sex ed curriculum – simply that himself and his colleagues were limited in the information they could provide students. The nurse at my school was also a vocal advocate for the IUD’s inclusion in the sex-ed curriculum. Yet despite this support, my school continues to provide students with very limited knowledge on sex and contraceptive options.

 

5) What do you think still needs to be done to improve sexual health education and inform teens of the options available to them like the IUD and other LARCs? 

There desperately needs to be a more open conversation about sex in my school. Right now, it’s stifled and this shows greatly in the attitudes and comments of students. Since I live in a fairly conservative area, it is unlikely for parents to provide their children with information on contraceptive options. If kids also don’t receive this information at school, their risk of having unprotected sex increases significantly.  If schools just set aside one day to talk about the contraceptive options that are available (including LARCs) this would, if not completely remedy the issue, substantially decease it.

 

6) Having worked on this piece, do you have thoughts or advice for other teens on how to empower themselves to get access to effective birth control and sex ed? 

Teens need to realize that it is within their power to obtain effective birth control. IUDs can be available for no cost, just as much as any other contraceptive device, to all teenage girls living in Pennsylvania and in other states as well. Although not receiving adequate sex ed at school can be really frustrating, there are a number of people on YouTube who are dedicated to providing teens with accurate, nonjudgmental information about sex. I highly suggest checking out Laci Green’s channel as well as Sexplanations, which is produced by Hank Green.

 

Want to know more about your contraceptive options? Visit our Youth Legal Guide section on Preventing Pregnancy for information and links to resources. You can also check out great contraceptive information resources such as Bedsider.org and TeenSource.

Finding Birth Control Through Planned Parenthood

Tyler S is a senior at SF State, graduating in May with a B.S in Health Education. She works as a lifeguard and swim instructor for the city of San Francisco. In her free time, she likes to go hiking, walk her dog, and go rock climbing.

When I was about 15 ½ I decided I was ready to have sex with my boyfriend at the time. We used condoms for a while and then decided it was time for me to be on birth control. I did not want to ask my parents because I was not sure how they would have reacted and I did not want to get in trouble with them.

So instead an older friend and my boyfriend recommended I go to Planned Parenthood. They told me they would give me birth control for free and it be confidential so my parents couldn’t find out. So we went and waited and I was able to go on birth control.

The whole experience was a bit nerve racking but my friend and boyfriend came with me so that definitely calmed my nerves. Also the people at the Planned Parenthood were so understanding. My parents had not found out that I was having sex or on birth control for a long time; I think I was about 17 when they found out. Turns out my mom was really chill about it and kind of bummed that I did not tell her. Though she was happy that I was protected and taking birth control.

Click here for more resources and information about accessing and using birth control.

How Can I Prevent Pregnancy?

You can prevent pregnancy by getting birth control from a health care provider before you have sex and using that birth control in the correct way. You can also pick up condoms from a health care provider or pharmacy.

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How do I get Birth Control?

You can ask your regular doctor about birth control during a check-up. Or, you can make an appointment just to talk about birth control. If you’re worried about cost and keeping the visit private, find a clinic in your area that may be able to help.

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