My Depo Story
I started use of Depo-Provera around September 1998. I used this drug for well over a year before experiencing side effects. Within another year I was off of the drug so here's my story, in detail.
I selected Depo-Provera for two reasons -- because of its convenient injection schedule, and because I was told it was the best birth control available with little to no side effects.
After approximately one year following my initial injection, I began to notice changes in my emotional and physical health. The side effects that I experienced are all almost now totally gone, thankfully! The side effects with an asterix (*) are those that I still suffer from as of 7-15-02.
Weight Gain -- This, of course, is the most commonly reported side effect of Depo-Provera. I had gained about a total of 20 pounds in less than 2 years. I have extremely high metabolism so I rarely ever gain weight. I am not still gaining weight but I have not lost any; nor have I tried.
*Mood Swings -- This was perhaps the most noticeable change I observed. I used to be a very well maintained person that couldn't be upset easily but now that's changed with the fact that I've become prone to rather rapid changes in mood, changes that seem unrelated to any corresponding change of circumstance or emotional stimulation. My mood can change rather rapidly and unpredictably from a playful, talkative or romantic and state to one of anger, frustration or almost tearful anxiety. I doubt I will ever fully "recover" from this side effect.
Anxiety -- I am constantly anxious about virtually every challenge and opportunity. My anxiety extends to the most trivial activities, such as walking the dog or running simple errands. I also experienced a mild anxiety attack over being in a crowded area.
*Shortness of Breath -- I am frequently short of breath. I believe that my continued smoking is partly responsible for this problem. All it takes is for me to bend over to pick something up off the floor that I dropped, and I'm out of breath.
Restlessness -- I never seem to be able to relax, except when I'm so tired I can't hold my eyes open. It usually takes me at least 3 hours now at night to be relaxed enough after work before I am able to go to sleep.
Unreasonable Fatigue -- I was always tired. I could have slept probably 24 hours every day if it wasn't for my family's concerns to try to keep me awake and active. At one point, when I first placed all that was going on in my body was because of Depo, I slept on average of at least 15 hours a day. Needless to say having a good job now keeps me busy for most of my time so I don't have too much time to sleep anymore.
Disrupted Sleep Patterns -- I have no sleep pattern what so ever anymore. I used to be tired and ready for sleep by midnight at the latest, but now it's just at any given point day or night.
Loss of Libido -- I had completely lost interest in sex. I used to be fairly "active" when it came to sex. It took me a long time to accept all of my sexual problems. When I'm happy and fortunate enough not to stress over this problem, everything is great when it comes to sex.
*Inadequate Vaginal Lubrication -- I was on Depo for a year and a half when I totally loss ALL lubrication. I was perfectly fine previously and at that year mark, when I started noticing all of my side effects, I slowly started losing lubrication until I had none at all. This could possibly be a reason as to why I found sex to be so disgusting for a while. I'm pleased to say that I have most of my natural lubrication back. Unfortunately it don't happen just because I'm sexually excited, it happens when I'm sexually "stimulated" but at least it happens.
*Anorgasmia -- I used to NEVER have problems having multiple orgasms. When I have sex, I actually feel like I will have an orgasm, but it just won't happen anymore. This is yet another thing that I have finally stopped stressing over. I have become very accepting of this problem and it has made my sex life much more enjoyable.
*Indigestion -- I never had a problem with this until Depo. I have personally diagnosed myself with having acid reflux from all of the information I've found online about this disease. It's not too bad. When it happens all it takes is one and sometimes 2 antacid tablets and I feel fine, so this symptom is not too big of a deal. I personally believe I started having this problem due to all of the stress in my life caused from Depo as well as every day stress but having to put up with all the problems caused by Depo sure doesn't help me in the least bit. I now very rarely have indigestion. I assume it was all a matter of the time that it took me to accept all of the things going on in my body. I have little to no stress in my life, so now I have little to no reason to have indigestion!
Frequent Headaches -- My headaches did not happen that often, but more often than before I used Depo. I would previously get a headache once or twice a year, if even that. I am back to the rarely ever getting a headache thing. I guess it was probably stress related from finding out all of the terrible things about Depo.
*Hair Loss -- I've had this problem for a while and honestly can't tell whether or not it's contributed to the use of Depo. I've had my hair dyed several times and stripped and bleached. So needless to say, I've been losing hair for a while, but it seems like it only gets worse and worse with time.
Acne -- I NEVER had a problem with Acne previous to use of Depo. It's not that bad now, but it's extremely irritating. Approximately one month before I was due for my shot, not only would I get my period but I would break out on my face with extreme acne. As well as that, when my face wasn't broken out, my neck and shoulders and back was and that is something that I NEVER had was acne elsewhere than my face. This problem also corrected itself over time. I still break out, but very little and it's only limited to my facial area some time before I get my period.
Hot Flashes -- I experienced hot flashes for about 2 months straight. It seemed they would never go away and it was intolerable. It would be a cold night when I would try to sleep, but my heat flashes were so bad that I couldn't cover up. It wasn't a good experience being cold AND hot at the same time. I haven't really had another hot flash since I started accepting everything that was going on in my body due to Depo. However, I did have another episode of hot flashes in early July of 2002. It only lasted for about 5 days thankfully.
*Change in Periods -- Before I started use of Depo, my periods came and went randomly and for however long. Then they came approximately one month before I was due for my next shot. Once I stopped use of Depo my periods went back to being extremely unpredictable. Within the past 6 months or so I have began to see a pattern, for the first time in my life (that wasn't due to Depo). It's nice to actually have some idea as to when you should expect to start. My periods are still fairly predictable; starting at the very end/begining of the month except this last one that didn't come until the middle of the month. Hopefully it will straighten itself back up, again.
*Decrease/Increase In Appetite -- My appetite went crazy. For several months, I found myself eating and eating and eating. My stomach would feel kind of tight, like I just ate a big meal but inside, my stomach would feel totally empty. Not counting with in about 5 min. after eating I would feel like I had not eaten anything at all, all day long. Starting in December 2000, my stomach decided it just didn't want food. I would eat (for size instance) a small bowl of cereal and within 5-10 min of eating I would feel that I had just eaten Thanksgiving dinner and I wouldn't be hungry for the rest of the day. A few days into January 2002, I returned back to constantly eating and constantly being hungry. My appetite was fine after that. In the past week, however, my appetite has gone back to eating very little and filling up and being hungry 5 min. later. I feel that this may be due to recent stresses in life.
Irregular Stomach/Groin Pains -- The stomach and groin pains could be from the biopsy I had in mid November 2001, but either way I had never had pains like those previously. Thankfully they don't last long when they did occur, but it was long enough for me to be in pain.
*Stomach Discomfort -- About my stomach discomfort, it's just an annoyance and sometimes a pain if even I myself touch my stomach. It's gotten to where I can't be in any flat position. I am usually curled up in a ball somehow or I have my legs bent inwards so I won't have so much discomfort. Sleeping has become a task for me.
Yeast Infections -- Before I used Depo I never had a yeast infection. I experienced many of them shortly after starting Depo and then they eventually went away for good.
Dry/Watery Eyes -- I used to be a contact lens wearer before I started use of Depo. Now when I try to wear them, my eyes get so dried out that I can't wear them for longer than a few hours because they irritate my eyes so badly. Other than that, when I don't have my contacts in, my eyes are constantly watering. I really don't have any problem at all with my eyes watering anymore (unless I'm upset). As for the contacts, that is something I have yet to try since I've almost totally recovered.
*Light Headed/Dizziness -- Anytime I bend over or stand up or move my head from side to side I just get this awful sensation that my head is spinning and won't stop and I just feel like I will pass out. No matter how slow I stand up, this still happens. Just within this past month this has become a much larger problem for me than ever before. It's too hard to try and describe on a keyboard but it makes my life much more difficult.
I have also experienced nervousness, weakness, lack of ability to concentrate, lower back pains, and problems with remembering anything, even what I did 5 minutes ago!
I will say I am extremely disappointed in this drug, the company that manufactures it, the lack of information available to me at the time, and the amount of contradicting information I found during my online research.
I also have many other concerns with this drug such as how long it takes to resume normal periods and begin ovulating and cervical cancer and its link to HPV.
Approximately December 15 2000 is when I was due for my last shot and I refused to go for it. My doctor questioned me as usual but I didn't get the shot either way. I started use of Ortho Tri-Cyclen January 2nd 2001. I didn't like it within a few weeks, or the stories I read. January 23rd 2001 at 10pm was the last time I took Ortho. I decided that since I was NOT sexually active at the time that I did not need birth control and I wanted my body to get all cleaned out; no more hormone roller coasters for me!
MY HORMONAL UPDATES
I stopped use of Ortho Tri-Cyclen after forgetting the pill about 2-3 times.
I had been using Ortho for app. 10 days and I started having a whitish discharge that lasted for about 18 days (could have just been lubrication) and also dried blood discharge after 20 days of use. All of this is after not having "my normal Depo period" for about 4 months.
Five days after I stopped use of all hormonal birth control (including Depo and Ortho), I received my period in which lasted about 4 days.
I first noticed my appetite slowing down after 15 days from the day I had stopped use of all hormones.
After 25 days of discontinued us of all hormones, I started feeling more sexual, like sex isn't as disgusting as an idea as it used to be. I got horny and WANTED/CRAVED sex after 42/43 days after all use was stopped.
I'm also pleased to report that I got my weight checked in late December of 2000, and weighed right at 140. March 5th of 2001 and I was down to 134. In August of 2001 I weighed about 136 so I say that this is going to be my permanent weight unless I actually TRY to lose weight.
I finally almost TOTALLY feel like my pre-Depo/hormone self and it's such a blessing. Keep in mind everyone that there IS hope. The only thing special that I think may have helped me to get better so quickly was that I take a good multi-vitamin daily. I was taking them slightly before I first started Depo and I still take them to this day when I can remember to do so. Also, I drank a lot of water; probably close to (if not more than) 6-8 glasses daily. I did nothing to TRY and lose weight either. I've kept my crappy eating habits and lost weight. I wish all of you all luck on the long and trivial road to recovery!
It's now 5-3-01 and I think it's time for a quick update. I mentioned in my list of side effects something about having a biopsy done in November of 1999. Everything came out fine with that thankfully. I had another pap done on March 5th 2000 to see if everything had cleared up and I got my "normal" letter in the mail saying that the results were abnormal. I received my final pap in August 2001. I went to a different doctor that used a different hospital for testing and everything came out perfect. I guess sometimes getting that second opinion is worth it. Now I'm thinking about getting a third opinion. Just remember ladies! Try and have some faith, it really helps and I wish all of you the best of luck!
Today is May 17th 2001. Between working close to full time and getting ready to start college and getting many new responsibilities in life all I can really think about is being "fully recovered". I just really feel that the more positive you are about recovering, the better you will be able to do so, and the sooner. I believe that the only side effect I haven't even somewhat recovered from is the anorgasmia. I am still not able to have orgasm through sex at all. During sex, in place of the missing orgasm, only comes pain and then sometimes bleeding (not a period, just bleeding). Other than that, my life, my recovery, is going quite well! I do advise everyone to check out my links page under Depo and go check out the update page on Kim's Legal page!
It's almost been a year since I updated this. It is now May 10th 2002. I love everything about life. I have finally accepted that some things just aren't meant to be with some people. I just wasn't meant to safely take hormone-based birth control. TROJAN ALL THE WAY BABY!!!!!!! I would like to add that in August of 2001 I found out that I was pregnant with the twins I had always day dreamed about having. I miscarried at 8 ½ weeks. Once I was finally able to put that in the past I found out I was pregnant again; (which makes twice in about 9 months) only to miscarry again. Since I went through it once already, I knew the obvious signs. I have absolutely no clue how far along I was when I miscarried the second time because it just happened within the last week or 2 and I have not been to the doctor. I have lists of things to be on the watch for. Other than that there's no reason to go to the doctor. Two miscarriages in less than one year is taking a toll on myself. Once a woman has 3 miscarriages in a row they are supposed to seek professional help conceiving. Hopefully it won't go that far with me; hopefully. Other than that everything is great with my recovery. I feel that I have fully recovered now. I have to accept the things that are not the same and not dwell on my past experiences. Considering I am still young, maybe everything will just fall back into place eventually.
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