I’m well aware that I have more than a few male readers. Most of you might not leave comments ever, but I know you dudes are there, soaking up the Afrobella love. And being married to a typical manly male, I know there are some things he’s down to discuss, and some things he doesn’t get as much. One of those things is birth control, and its particular effects on the female body.

He doesn’t fully comprehend that some pills can make you turn into a total cry baby, and others make you feel like Oscar the Grouch on steroids. He just gets to bear the brunt of it while my body figures out the crazy new hormones that I’m introducing to the system.

So if you’ll excuse me, gentlemen – I’ve got some birth control questions for my ladies after the jump. Or hey — if you feel like learning something new in the company of women, by all means stick around. I’m about to put my business in the street.

I’ve been on some form of birth control or another starting from age 17. Not because I was sexually active yet – because my mom’s gynecologist, an older gentleman by the name of Professor Roopnarinesingh (heretofore to be referred to as The Professor), said it would help to regulate my irregular period.

I believe the first pill I was on was something called Celesta. And it was cool, whatever. I barely remember any side effects, and I was so young, I didn’t know my body and my mind as well. So if I did have any crazy mood swings, they could easily have been explained as teenage angst. But when I came away to college, I realized that Celesta wasn’t available in the USA. So I got on the birth control pill switcheroo roller coaster, and the ride continues to this day.

Ortho Tricyclen made me weepy and prone to melodramatic fits. I’d find myself getting way more upset about little things than I should be. If I was mad at my roommate for not doing dishes, it immediately became “I hate my roommate. I want to destroy her.” (Sincere apologies to any roommates I may have destroyed in this period). All jokes aside, that pill turned me into demon spawn. Hungry demon spawn at that — I’d find myself wanting to consume a whole loaf of white mountain bread from the grocery store, for example. Ortho Lo was a bit better, but left me lethargic and low energy, with a leaden libido. Because I’d been steadily gaining weight, my doctor recommended Mircette, which didn’t make me feel great mentally (I honestly don’t recall why exactly I switched off it. Just didn’t care for it for some reason). Finally I tried Alesse, which did the trick just fine. It’s got a high androgenic/low estrogenic pattern, so it helped with the moodiness and weight gain the other pills seemed to be contributing to.

But over time, I just became terrible at remembering to take a pill every morning at the same time. I found myself skipping days and popping two to compensate, then being scared after the fact. The whole thing wasn’t working for me, and this was around the time of my hair transition. To my husband’s eternal delight, I decided to shun most of the unnatural products I was consuming and applying on a daily basis. And that included birth control.

Just as there are many different reasons to begin birth control, there are many different reasons to quit. For me, it was a desire to discover how my body would react to totally not ingesting a hormone to control my cycle. That, and the fact that my monthly pill went from $11 to $35 a pack. Gotta keep it honest, here. Finances had a lot to do with the initial decision.

When I came off the pill, people told me all kinds of ridiculous things. “Oh, you’re going to lose so much weight.” “You might not get a regular monthly period, because the pill helps to regulate that.” “You’re going to lose so much weight.” Um, no, no, and not at all. I learned pretty fast that maybe somehow the pill had contributed to my weight gain – my appetite increased and I felt sluggish, and instead of fighting against those side effects, I indulged my hormonal desires or lack thereof. But stopping the pills didn’t like, make 50 pounds fall off me — that kind of weight loss requires a lifestyle change, not just one whimsical decision. So if you’re thinking of quitting your pill, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons for you. Consider the scary side effects, and a greater chance of blood clots, stroke and heart attack. If you smoke, those possibilities become even scarier. Do the research, educate yourself about what you’re ingesting every day. Ask your doctor lots of questions.

After trying all kinds of atypical birth control methods — including this weirdness. Love the reviews on that one, “I really liked this stuff at first, but I am pregnant now, so I won’t be using that anymore.” LMAO — I’m back at an important decision-making juncture. I’ve decided to return to the pill. I am not ready for a baby just yet, and I really do feel ready to give birth control another whirl. Which brings me to my dilemma.

My doctor just gave me a free sample of an exciting new form of birth control called Nuvaring. It’s a flexible contraceptive ring that slowly releases a low dose of hormones inside your body. You insert it for three weeks at a time, then take a week off. For a Forgetful Jones like me, that sounded perfect. The doctor hyped it up, and offered me a free sample AND a coupon for the next one. And I must admit, it appealed to the product junkie in me. Contraception, exciting and new. Come aboard, Nuvaring’s expecting you. Then I read this scary blog post, titled Nuvaring/Nuvadeath. Uh oh.

She links to the side effects, some of which include vomiting, temporary infertility after treatment, and “spotty darkening of the skin, particularly on the face.” WTF?

This from the Message Whore blog: “Also, the NuvaRing could cause behavioral side affects. My friend reported being extremely angry while on it. So much so that slightly annoying things, like foot tapping, made her completely, irrationally angry.

Okay, so maybe you’re not allergic to the NuvaRing and have survived without passing out in the woods or going to anger management classes, but you do have a very high chance of developing a yeast infection. And it’s not just women who are susceptible to infections, women who never had an infection are developing them with continued NuvaRing use. Yay?

The idea of a once a month birth control that you can’t feel or don’t have to worry about appeals to many ladies out there. The NuvaRing is also being heavily pushed as the new substitute for Ortho Evra, AKA the killer patch. Joking aside, the patch kills (too much estrogen) and maybe the NuvaRing does, too? I guess we won’t find out for sure for a couple more months. After all the NuvaRing still is in beta testing. ”

Dios mio. The LAST thing I need is irrational anger. The second-to-last thing is a yeast infection. The comments — a whopping 178 of them — ranged from “I heart Nuvaring” to “Nuvaring = evil.” So I now have this plastic ring sitting on my kitchen counter, next to a prescription for the more-familiar (and quite acceptable) Alesse. What do I choose? The more comments I read about Nuvaring (as awesome as once-a-month contraception sounds), the less I want to try it. I understand that things work differently for everyone, but I want honest reader feedback before I make a final decision on this thing.

So my question for you ladies is, have any of you tried Nuvaring? What have been your experiences? If you haven’t, what form of birth control do you use, and do you like it? And finally – when oh when will there be an effective, appealing pill for men — that they’ll actually use?

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