Been on Norplant? Tell me your experiences please.
February 9, 2004 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Birth control question. [mi]

I've been contemplating going to Norplant as a birth control. Has anyone had any significant experiences with it, either good or bad? I've taken pills, but I want something more reliable. I've tried Depo-Provera, but I can't skip periods. I'm currently trying the patch, but I just can't stand having something on me for a week and the stickiness.
posted by stoneegg21 to Health & Fitness (24 answers total)
Irregular periods are a side-effect of norplant. IIRC this includes a real possibility of missing some, and of having some months of just spotting, and so on.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:00 PM on February 9, 2004

Is there a medical reason you can't skip periods? It's often considered beneficial (from a medical standpoint) to have as few as possible.

The one person I knew on Norplant missed a lot of periods.
posted by biscotti at 9:04 PM on February 9, 2004

How on earth can Norplant allow periods? Isn't it a subdermal? No way to vary the hormonal output, then, neh?

My wife has been menustration-free for the past eighteen years, and she loves it.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 PM on February 9, 2004

fff: you most definitely can get periods on Norplant, but they're usually irregular and light (although they're sometimes way longer than regular ones). Remember that your body's hormonal cycle is still operating even with Norplant - it's low-dose synthetic progesterone, which should stop you from ovulating, but a lack of ovulation doesn't necessarily mean a lack of menstruation.
posted by biscotti at 9:32 PM on February 9, 2004

I haven't tried norplant, but I did try the patch for a while before quitting it for the same reasons you cite. I finally ended up on NuvaRing, a small flexible ring that is inserted vaginally and left in for a month. You'll still have monthly periods, and it's more reliable than the pill because the hormones are released continuously and you don't have to worry about missing a dose. I like it.
posted by bonheur at 9:40 PM on February 9, 2004

My wife had a Norplant while we were dating. Her cycles were reasonably regular, but of varying potency; most periods were quite light. Her chief complaints were similar to those she had about the pill: minor weight gain, negative effect on mood and libido. If your experience winds up being anything like hers -- and there's no guarantee whatsoever of that -- it should be fairly similar to your experience with oral contraceptives. Just with some menustral effects. If you have medical or spiritual reasons to avoid messing with your cycle, it might not be ideal.

I rather liked the little fan shape under her skin. I thought it was cute, like a little embossed decoration.
posted by majick at 10:12 PM on February 9, 2004

Response by poster: At least when I was on Depo, I couldn't skip. Instead, I'd bleed at a low-level for months, after about the first month.
posted by stoneegg21 at 10:32 PM on February 9, 2004

My ex gf used Norplant, it made her quite the most unreasonable person ever. Mood swings, aggresion, you name it.

As birth control, we used it for 2 years and it worked great. Unlike our relationship...
posted by triv at 12:24 AM on February 10, 2004

My fiance used Norplant for quite some time, and was very pleased with it - no bad side effects at all. However, as of a couple of years ago, it was apparently taken off the market (due to some people having adverse reactions), so she had to switch to the pill.

If you have information that it's back on the market, let me know. She'd love to switch back.
posted by tdismukes at 5:29 AM on February 10, 2004

stoneegg21, are you married or in a monogamous relationship? Because I'd recommend an IUD. I happen to have a standard copper one, called the ParaGard, which is good for 10 years, but there's also a new one called Mirena, which is hormonally treated, good for five years, and has the added benefit of making your periods lighter.

Aside from the insertion, which was uncomfy, and the first period afterward, which was heavy and crampy, I have to say: it's the best form of birth control I've ever used. It's economical, fairly worry-free, and long-lasting. Plus, if you want to get pregnant, you may do so as soon as you have it removed. Most doctors nowadays are willing to offer them to childless patients, like myself, because the whole concept of "IUDs and infertility" has pretty much been dispelled as myth.
posted by cowboy_sally at 7:21 AM on February 10, 2004

Response by poster: My doctor said that I couldn't get an IUD because I've never been pregnant. Was that a mistake on her part?
posted by stoneegg21 at 9:13 AM on February 10, 2004

Response by poster: The Mirena requires having been pregnant, I can't find any information on the ParaGard.
posted by stoneegg21 at 9:17 AM on February 10, 2004

Just a cautionary note on IUD's - a friend got one recently, and then developed searing back pain. It turns out that the IUD caused an infection. She didn't sustain permanent damage, but she switched to another method.

I suspect that IUD's work well in most cases, but the potential side effects might be worse than from other types of birth control.
posted by troutfishing at 9:20 AM on February 10, 2004

nuvaring, nuvaring, nuvaring. i've used it for over a year and i love it. my doctor gave me a starter pack which included a little electronic timer that reminds you to take the ring out after 21 days, and reminds you to put a new one in seven days after that. i also like the fact that the hormones are released locally and not ingested. it's comfortable, i never feel it, and i've never had it fall out.
posted by bluishorange at 9:23 AM on February 10, 2004

stoneegg21, I've used just about every method of contraception - condom, sponge/spermicide, pill, IUD, diaphragm - though not the Norplant or the patch. I hated every single one of them - condoms because they're a pain and decrease sensitivity, sponge/spermicide because they can be tasted and are inconvenient, diaphragm also because it was inconvenient and removal was painful, IUD because I could feel it during intercourse, and I don't like the chemical methods.

Unless you have your heart set on a chemical method, I'd strongly recommend the one form of birth control I found that I absolutely loved: Persona. Basically, it uses pee sticks (8/month) to chart your cycle to let you know when you are fertile, so you have 3 weeks of 'green' days when you can have unprotected sex and about one week of 'red' days when you can't. It is completely non-invasive and non-chemical, but you do have to check it every day and perform a test on 8 days out of the month. It is currently only available in the UK, but there are easy ways to get around that.

Good luck!
posted by widdershins at 9:49 AM on February 10, 2004

stoneegg21, here's info on the ParaGard. Of course, both that site and the Mirena site tout IUDs as being for moms only. However, any OB/GYN who's up on the latest contraceptive news will tell you: there is no reason why childless women can't use IUDs. (See here for more info.) My OB/GYN is fairly conservative yet he had no qualms about it. I've been really happy with the IUD--though obviously YMMV.

(The Nuvaring looks pretty cool as well.)
posted by cowboy_sally at 10:03 AM on February 10, 2004

Whoah, hold up widdershins, didn't it come out that sperm is active long enough to impregnate even when introduced out of cycle?
posted by NortonDC at 10:10 AM on February 10, 2004

Some googling turned up a sperm viability period of five days, plus mentions of the previously unacknowledged frequency of irregular and multiple intra-month ovulation, including some interesting stories linked at a site you may have heard of.
posted by NortonDC at 10:22 AM on February 10, 2004

All of the advice in this thread has been good, so I can only add that you may want to visit your local Planned Parenthood; they are usually the often the best source of birth control advice, especially if you are in a smaller town. In general, you sound like you would be a good candidate for an IUD or nuvaring. IUDs have the added benefit of being the most cost-effective method of birth control, if that is a concern.
posted by TedW at 10:40 AM on February 10, 2004

Add me to the list of satisfied IUD users. No hormones. Nothing to remember. Reliability numbers that approach those of surgical sterilization. Its not for those of low pain tolerance - insertion is not fun and I do have much worse cramps then when on the pill but I've had mine 3 years now and recommend it to all my girl friends.
posted by Wolfie at 11:19 AM on February 10, 2004

Might check into using the nuvaring without the week-off period. Why menustrate if you don't have to?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:57 PM on February 10, 2004

Also might be worth checking into male options. Surely there must be a male contraceptive by now! Hell, plug the tubes up with silicon seal...
posted by five fresh fish at 12:58 PM on February 10, 2004

Response by poster: fff, I've tried going without menustration. And I had a wonderful month long period. I can't go past about two or three months without a period, or I'll have a low-level one till I do have one.
posted by stoneegg21 at 1:04 PM on February 10, 2004

My fiance was an ex-user of the Nuvaring and we both got tired of it. It's claimed that you can leave it in during sex, but occasionally there would be an unfortunate 'ring-toss' incident.

She still has that timer, however. Beeps every Sunday morning.
posted by jmevius at 1:30 PM on February 17, 2004

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