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Today we are talking about contraception. Yes ladies, because, even if you are peri-menopausal, if you are still getting your period you can get pregnant! So, it is something you still have to think about.

One thing that really makes me laugh in relation to this, is that people ask me if I am not afraid in taking HRT which are hormones… I simply think about the number of hormones contained in the contraceptive pills and I cannot stop smiling. I have been on pills contraception since I was 15 therefore I am not concerned at all in taking HRT. Let’s be serious, if you have been on pills since your fertile age, it cannot be just HRT the problem. Contraceptive pills are hormones and I can assess with a high degree of certainty that most of my friend have been taking them since school, and everyone was using the same (there was not really so many choices back then). So, I basically used a pill since I was 15 until the age of 35, even if I wasn’t always good in taking it, I have to admit sometimes I was forgetting it. After that I didn’t use anything I was just using the very unsafe “pull out” method. Moreover, pull out method does not protect you from STI (sexual transmitted infections) and then, I decided to go for the Mirena coil when I was 40. Mirena coil is an IUS, so an intrauterine device. An IUS is a small, T-shaped plastic device that’s put into your womb (uterus) by a doctor or nurse. It releases the hormone progestogen to stop you getting pregnant and lasts for something between three to five years. I chose to change to this method as it appears that pills have a longer list of things against it, and many more adverse effects that were not known about before. I felt personally that the Mirena coil was a lot safer. You can use it and you don’t even get heavy periods. I was never scared of putting it in as some women are. You don’t feel it. Or at least I didn’t feel it. I changed it every five years, that is the maximum amount of time it remains effective before you need to change it. I took mine out when I was fifty and then didn’t need anything anymore as I was going through the menopause, I stopped having periods when I was forty-nine.

Something I have to point out is that I have very rarely used condoms in my life, I basically just kept myself checked all the time, at regular intervals.  

Then was the period of time when a lot of scary stuff, like HIV was coming to the for, but as I’d always had a boyfriend and I always started off safely with my boyfriend and after some time I decided on going without any condoms because at that point it felt safe as I was in a long term relationship. Of course, at the time, there was a lot of scaremongering by the government. It was the years of of the boom of HIV cases and there was not even enough knowledge about it. I was concerned but I didn’t really care that much about HIV to be honest. My generation wasn’t the condom generation, but now, I don’t know many people who would ever have sex without a condom. Also, nowadays, there is a lot more information about contraception. I think people should 100% use condoms when starting a relationship, you have to be responsible. You have to be strict all of the time. If you think “it doesn’t matter this time”, this is exactly when something unexpected happens. Men are more worried about pregnancy (of course). Now it’s more a problem of an unwanted pregnancy, even though there is a lot more freedom. I just want to point out that the coil is preferable only after having had a pregnancy. So, before my pregnancy I used the pill. I never had any problem with the pill, no side effects, and I was also taking one of the lowest dosages. I stopped taking it when I wanted to get pregnant. The funny thing is that when I started trying to get pregnant I was very often told that, since I have been on the pill for so long people thought I was never going to get pregnant or that it would take a really long time to conceive. Instead, it happened fairly quickly for me.

For the coil instead, I didn’t feel as much pain, as the it is like period pain, spotting without period is fine, and moreover, and also I learnt that your body really like the progesterone.

Then, when I was about to take out the coil, I had some symptoms which made me think that I had thrush, so I decided to go to see a doctor and make an appointment to take it out, and it was then that I discovered I had vaginal atrophy. It’s very important to know about the atrophy, because it can turn out to be very serious. So, if you suspect that you have thrush that is not clearing up with specific treatments, please get checked, as it can become very serious over time. Symptoms are very similar to thrush, and it wasn’t clearing up, so I thought it was maybe the Mireena coil. I thought “I am a women of the world, and I’ve never heard about vaginal atrophy”. I discovered it, just because I went to the menopause clinic, and the doctor told me: “it looks like you have vaginal atrophy”. For this reason, he gave me some cortisone cream, which are steroids, they do not solve the problem. Up to now, this is the only thing they give you on the NHS for this condition. It is all they recommend. Alternatively I found that there is a machine called the “Mona Lisa Touch”, but this is not available on the NHS it is available only in private clinics. It‘s a laser treatment but very expensive and it does rejuvenate your vagina.

Having sex when you are protected is a way better.

Author: Ornella Cappellari