Recently, I had to undergo an exploratory D&C to determine the cause of some rather nifty cramping and crime scene-level bleeding. The doctor discovered and removed some polyps, which helped a little with the cramping, but it didn’t solve the problem completely.
After the surgery, I met with my doctor to discuss options for eliminating my horrific perimenopausal symptoms once and for all. Since I’d suffered a deep vein thrombosis a few years prior, and because I am forty-plus, estrogen was not an option for me. Progesterone medications were my only non-surgical alternatives. After talking with my doctor, it seemed that the Depo-Provera shot was the best choice for me.
Like most people would, I decided to do a Google search to see what others had to say about Depo. Big mistake. It seemed like there were nothing but horror stories out there. Everyone talked about becoming fat and homicidal after getting the shot. One woman even said she wanted to kill her kids when she was on Depo. Since I’m already chubby and mildly grouchy, this worried me.
Then I made another mistake. I reached out to my Facebook friends. I specifically asked if anyone had anything POSITIVE to say about Depo. Most people told me I would bleed to death, binge on Skittles, and growl. Terrific.
Still, despite what I’d discovered on the Internet, I chose to get the Depo-Provera shot. I was really nervous when I went in for my first one, but I’ve actually had five now, and guess what? I have not gained ANY weight at all, and I feel happier, not angrier. In addition to this overall sense of well-being, I’ve noticed a few more great side effects of Depo:
1. Energy. Depo-Provera makes me feel more focused and energized. I’m able to get work projects done more quickly, and I don’t feel as physically tired during the day. I tend to be a Type A person anyway, and the Depo kicks my obsessive-compulsive disorder up a notch. The Type B people out there might see this as a bad thing, but it works for me. I completely scrub out my refrigerator and freezer shortly after receiving each quarterly shot.
2. No Foreign Objects. For some reason, the medical community—as well as a lot of women my age—have a collective hard-on for the intrauterine device (IUD). I personally cannot say “NOPE” enough to that concept. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I am simply not comfortable with someone, even a medical professional, shoving a foreign object past my cervix and into my uterus. It would be too traumatic. This is why I had to have a D&C instead of an in-office, wide-awake uterine biopsy.
Even if the doctor could get an IUD inside me, my anxiety would never allow me to stop fixating on it. Any little stomach pain and I would assume that the IUD was gouging my innards or migrating someplace where it wasn’t supposed to be. Other than the brief poke of a needle, Depo-Provera does not necessitate a foreign object being placed into my body.
3. Endometriosis. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with endometriosis, because it’s a tricky diagnosis—it can hide in the Fallopian tubes or even the colon. However, my mother had endometriosis, and I have many of the symptoms, so my doctor recommended the Depo shot for me as a treatment for endometriosis, too. We are covering birth control, perimenopausal bleeding and cramping, and possible endometriosis all in one little shot. Yes, please.
4. Three Months. I only have to deal with taking this medication four times a year. Each shot lasts three months. When I was on the pill, I used to forget to take it sometimes. Also, if I took it on an empty stomach, I would get nauseated. Who has time for that impending puke feeling? Not this girl.
In short, my Depo experience has been fabulous. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the numerous dramatic warnings from well-meaning people. Everyone’s body is different: birth control pills with a high amount of estrogen always made me bleed like crazy; some people gain a lot of weight on progesterone. This is why you should only take advice from your doctor, not your 4,765 Facebook “friends.” For me, Depo is a gift. It is the only thing that really works. My doctor tells me I can stay on it until menopause, and that makes me so happy.
Originally published on In The Powder Room in November, 2015.