“Menstruation is still my biggest enemy and I find it entirely pointless.”
I just want you to know that we’ve moved on from Bridgerton (that’s so January) and are officially onto The Bachelor. Full disclosure: I have never watched this show in my life. But hey, quarantine is all about discovering yourself and trying new things, amirite? I fully inhaled all four episodes in one day and I hate it here. But I also love it. Are you watching? I would ask who’s your top pick for Jeremy to choose but there are 23 girls and in the last episode 5 more just strolled in sooo God speed to him because they’re all fab (minus “Queen” Victoria).
This Week’s Story
We have a bit of a theme going from last week. Back-to-back essays from Nigerian writers (we lit!) on dealing with the mysterious wonder that is reproductive health. While last week we read Zainab’s story about dealing with PCOS, this week, writer Gold Gerry tells us about that one time she got a contraceptive shot and how it went all the way wrong. Ah, the wonders of being a woman! Gold lays out ALL the gorey details in her story so if you’re squeamish, buckle up.
PS – Don’t forget to check out my favorite Black girl content from around the web this week at the end of the email! And if you have thoughts about this story or just want to show love, drop a comment, like, and/or share it! Your support helps Carefree grow 🙂
Getting On Contraception Made Me Ugly
by Gold Gerry
September of 2020 was supposed to be my best month last year. More specifically, September 9th since that was the day my boyfriend was arriving. After spending months unemployed and adjusting to pandemic life, I found myself in my first long-distance relationship and he was finally coming back to see me.
All the suffering I had endured that year no longer mattered. He was going to be here to hold me and tell me just how beautiful I was.
Then, his flight was moved up by three days. Little did I know that was a sign. A sign from God, nature, or maybe karma? I cannot decide.
A few weeks leading up to his arrival, I decided to get on contraception. Even though I became sexually active at the age of 15, this was my first time considering taking a contraceptive shot. If you take anything from this story, it is how much I want you to not be like me.
To be clear, I have used other forms of contraception before: mostly condoms, drinking saltwater (a local method that is done immediately after the sperm has been discharged into the vagina), and the almighty pullout method. I had always wanted to wait for when I got married to try the shot, but I loved my boyfriend, and since stupidity is a side effect of love, here I was at a health center seated opposite a Doctor (or maybe she was a Nurse, you never really know the difference in Nigeria’s government health centers) about to get my ass injected with a liquid that is meant to prevent untimely pregnancy.
I had so much anxiety before visiting the health center that I consulted with one of my Doctor friends, Tolulope, beforehand. That should count as my first official doctor’s appointment, don’t you think?
She let me know that I had the option of going on a pill or opting for an injection. As a coward to anything medicinal, I chose the injection. Tolu then went on to tell me about the injection having two different types of plans, one lasts for two months and the other, for three. I thought, easy, three months it is. She put me at ease about my decision. But now, sitting opposite the Doctor in their sterile office put chills on my back, I completely panicked and forgot which plan I wanted. I said two instead of three.
Despite my visible anxiety, my Doctor was very polite. And since I had spoken to a Doctor a day before visiting, most of the things she told me about contraception did not sound so strange to my ears. Well, except for the part where she mentioned that the contraception would take a week to enter my bloodstream, and, of course, I thought again, easy!
I left the appointment feeling good. I even remember texting my boyfriend, “I feel like a woman now”. For all these years that I had been sexually active, this was the first time I truly felt in control of my health and my life.
It was a good feeling.
Until it wasn’t.
One thing I completely didn’t account for was the side effects. What a mistake that was.
Some side effects of taking contraceptives include, but are not limited to mood swings, bloating, dizziness, nausea, irregular menstrual bleeding, breakouts, and more. Out of all of these, would you like to guess how many I experienced? That’s right, I got them all, including the others.
And the others are what I am here to tell you about.
Everything was fine the week after I had the injection, up until my boyfriend arrived in Lagos. I had a massive breakout from my face to my chest like I was reacting to a bad face cleanser, body wash, or evil spirits. It was embarrassing, sure, but this wasn’t the worst part.
Out of all the websites I checked out and videos I watched, nobody told me how badly my vagina discharge would smell. I kept excreting blood. For clarity, a normal vagina’s discharge is meant to be white, and up until then I had a normal vagina (or so I thought), but here I was, day in and day out, using up to 6 different panty liners because my discharge wouldn’t stop.
It was either watery like blood or thick with blood clots, and it was hands down the most disgusting moment of my life. This uncontrollable smelly discharge went on for two weeks, till I went on a trip with my man. On our second day at the hotel, I stained the hotel sheets. Due to all the heavy, bloody discharge, I didn’t know when my actual period came, and so I saw my period twice that month.
This was a time when I was supposed to feel beautiful, positive, and carefree, but instead, I was intensely insecure about my physical appearance, my sexual health, and mental wellbeing. I began to think that, medically, something was wrong with me.
Dealing with this change in health kinda made me hate my boyfriend because I felt he put me in this situation. I remember making him stop kissing me each time our makeout sessions got steamy so I could run to the bathroom and wash off because I was paranoid I smelled. And unfortunately, I did smell. On top of that, I became extremely sensitive and angered by issues and topics that didn’t warrant it. Our relationship has since adjusted with the ritual that has to happen before sex and I am happy with how patient we’ve both been.
This experience made me hate myself and question my choices in something that I thought would keep me safe. And I was feeling anything but.
In the end, my abnormal spotting episodes happened for over a month till my boyfriend left. Then, of course, I went back to having a normal discharge. The doctor said this was a normal reaction. I think we have different definitions of normal.
What lessons did I get from this?
Sex is fun, but I need to protect myself more, and getting on contraception was one way of me doing that. I just didn’t know it would go so horribly left.
The human body, most especially that of a woman has a ton of complexities. What makes Lady B tingle, may make Lady C tick.
Menstruation is still my biggest enemy and I find it entirely pointless.
I’m sure you’re thinking…Gold, would you do it again? Of course, I would.
Safe sex is the best sex for me (and you).
I’m not ready for kids.
I will make some changes so I don’t have to go through this nightmare again.
I have a Doctor’s appointment next week so I would make sure to ask more questions. I need to expand my knowledge on other kinds of contraceptive injections and explore them until I find an option that works best for me and my body.
To all my ladies reading this post and are experiencing any kind of changes to their body because of a medication or simply for being a woman, I get it.
It is tough and possibly humiliating, but you’ll get through it because you are strong. When in doubt, seek help from a licensed Doctor.
Keep staying safe.
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Gold Gerry is a Nigerian writer and owner of the lifestyle blog, Gold Gerry. She is heavily invested in the entertainment industry in Africa as a Creative Director, Screenwriter, and Production Assistant. Gold aspires to be one of the greatest filmmakers of her time and she is open to work and collaborate on creative projects. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org and her Instagram @goldgerry.
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I really love the story. I’m from Nigeria too and there are too many of us who have similar stories. During my time, it was drink pepper after sex, never heard of the saltwater. Lol