I started looking into long birth-control methods when I was planning a working holiday to Australia. I had been on microgygon which is an oral pill since the age of fifteen but the doctor only supplies six months at a time. Paying for the birth control pill when traveling can be rather pricey.
This is when I came across the Nexplanon. Nexplanon is an implant about the size of a matchstick, it releases a hormone that thickens your uterus lining to prevent sperm ever reaching the egg. It’s got the highest percentage rate for protection against pregnancy and lasts for 3 years. It seemed a no brainer to me, hassle free effective birth control. When I read about the side effects it did give an extensive list, but after taking the pill for over 10 years with little are no side effects. I thought me reacting badly to it was unlikely….
The most common side effect of Nexplanon is light bleeding which we ladies' refer to as spotting in between periods. It’s known to last between 6-12 months and then statistics say its likely to go away. Unfortunately, in this circumstance I was an anomaly, my periods where irregular but spotting was fairly continuous for me. From time to time, I would get a break from spotting and would always be very hopeful that my bleeding had regulated only to be caught out and ruin my underwear. So, I spent my late twenties in granny pants and pads, sex drive at an all time low and the big O had gone on vacation.
You might ask, why didn’t you just get it removed? And in honesty it was never a priority in Australia I spent a lot of time in rural places and the procedure is quite pricey. Besides I kept telling myself I can deal with it… it’s going to regulate eventually right? So, eighteen months after having the implant inserted, I returned to Japan. By this point I had become so used to ‘dealing’ with the bleeding and my ego was off chilling with some other amigos, what’s the point now?
In the third year of Implant life, I started noticing some changes, my periods started to regulate finally! I also started making some lifestyle tweaks mainly sticking to an exercise plan and practicing a healthy diet. My sexual interest had also started to return, Winner! Though interest returning was an improvement, I noticed I was getting slightly more anxious and restless around my periods but nothing to major, nothing I couldn’t deal with.
But in July I had my first barmy incident. I was cycling around Yotei and started crying for no reason literally uncontrollable. Then the next few days sleep was hard to come by I’d focus on any negatives and overthink until the sun came up. Restlessness and anxiety were at an all-time high and following conversations was difficult. Everything in my being was telling me it’s the implant you have to get it out. I reached out to some friends and they had never heard of the implant. It’s not practiced in Japan and when I googled the implant it seemed there was only one review of a case being removed in Tokyo and the red cross hospital in Nagano could maybe remove it. The girls also thought that the local
hospitals would unlikely know what it is and that the removal could be pricey. Sounded like my hassle-free birth control was probably going to be a hassle to remove. After chatting we also rationalised that id made some lifestyle changes too so that might be affecting me so see how I go… I can deal with it right.
An increased restlessness and nervousness in me came to be quite normal it was sort of fitting to my on-the-go lifestyle and most emotional thoughts I could generally rationalise eventually. Besides do most of us ladies not overthink and send ourselves slightly cray cray?... I’d never before but I thought since turning 30 I needed to get to know myself more. Maybe that’s why I’m analysing everything and I’m all over the place?
Winter came around and I got very busy with work… My main job was snow clearing so it was very physical. Erratic behaviour and crying spurts around my period where back at a high but I rationalized that it’s probably worse because I’m exhausted right? People cry when their exhausted right? It all finally came to ahead in March, work slowed down and my life got more routine. I was aware of an increased tiredness and decreased mood and I thought I might be having a slight iron deficiency or something. A very unproductive week was followed with restlessness and nervousness again. Finding it hard to be present in conversations, concentration was low and the need for exercise to settle my brain was high. On top of this the no reasoning crying began… One night I was literally planning my cycling trip and tears started running down my face, WTF? This isn’t normal I’m not sad right now, or am I? Everything in my being was telling me its your implant you need to get it out...
I messaged my Amazeballs friend at like one in the morning after I’d almost taken myself out for a run. I settled with a mad fit work out cause running at mid night is crazy right? I knew my behaviour was bonkers and asked for her to help me find a Doc she made a thousand phone calls like a champ. To our surprise the local NIC clinic could do it…
I went that afternoon, a quick incision from the Doc and 8,300 yennies later I was free of the rod. I’ve never felt so relieved I also feel regret at not pushing the issue earlier, my lessons learned from this process is never persevere with your wellbeing, its not weak to ask for help and listen to your body, don’t de prioritize health because of money. I think I may still be in for some adjustments but even today I’ve managed sit and write this which I couldn’t have done yesterday. I’m looking forward to being hormone free and restoring balance. I’m also slightly nervous of what that means, I’ve been on some type of birth control for half of my life, who am I without a concoction of hormones?