TMI: People Tell Us Their Unexpected Experiences With Contraceptives


Mar 25, 2023


Image Credit: Denise D'souza for The Swaddle

Welcome to TMI, a monthly series that crowdsources awkward details and uncomfortable moments that come with occupying our bodies.

The first step to safe sex – use contraception. But with a wide range of contraceptive methods – of varying shapes, sizes, and flavors – available in the market, which one should you choose? In a rush to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or STIs, ‘what’s easily available’ often ends up dictating people’s contraceptive choices, glossing over the fact that choosing the right contraceptive is an important step of the process. Sometimes, people mess around and find out – the hard way. We asked people to tell us the unexpected struggles that cropped up while using different contraceptives, in their search for ‘the one’. Here’s what they said:

Prevention at source

“I had sex with my boyfriend while we were both drunk – and it was great! I woke up in the morning not remembering much of it but being very sure that we used condoms, because I mean, that’s almost muscle memory right? For a few days after I had extreme lower abdomen pain, almost like period cramps but so much worse. I knew something was wrong. It got worse when one night I went into the bathroom because the pain was so bad. And then came the surprise. While peeing, a condom fell out! A CONDOM. It was the most painful experience of my life and I got a massive infection after. Moral of the story – always clean and pee after sex. I don’t know what we did while we were doing ‘it’, but the fact that I had a used condom up my vagina for 4 odd days is not something I, you or anyone should risk.”

“Dotted condoms are not pleasurable at all, I don’t know who likes them. I will always prefer extra thin ones. They actually poke so much, it’s like putting a cactus inside your vagina.”

“This is an obvious one, but the lack of proper sex education that includes demonstrations of how to put on a condom on an anatomically correct model can have disastrous consequences in the bedroom. The first time I ever tried to put a condom on a man, it took an embarrassingly long time. I had just assumed based on the media I consumed that it would be self explanatory, or that at least the man would know intuitively how to use one. He didn’t. I didn’t even know that condoms can roll down both ways. The way that seems intuitively correct is usually the wrong way. You’ll know it’s wrong because it won’t roll down all the way to the base of the penis, and it’ll keep springing back the more you try to roll it down. However, once you’ve  rolled it down the wrong way and it’s all stretched out, combined with the fact that almost all condoms these days are pre-lubed and hence slippery, you’re gonna have to toss it and start over with a new one.

Due to my comparatively progressive upbringing, a mother who had discussed contraception with me to some extent growing up, and an intelligent and respectful partner who also fully realized the importance of getting the condom on correctly, I got to experience the learning curve of using this type of contraception properly. However, my situation doesn’t seem to be norm. Most of the women in my community grow up in conservative sex-shamed households, ill-informed about contraception and often with hasty or pushy partners. I shudder to think how many women end up with STDs or unwanted pregnancies because, while they were able to get their partner to wear a condom, it wasn’t put on right because no one ever taught them what a correctly put on condom should look like.”

“Pulling out.”

“I’ve only tried abstinence as a contraceptive and can’t say that’s worked well.”

The pill pause

“I have taken the morning after pill. I think what was mostly scary was that I was in another country and I didn’t know how it worked and it was worrying because I didn’t know the guy also. And I had heard all these stories of how it makes you really sick. I skipped class that day and stayed home and took the pill. But I was totally fine, just delayed my period and messed up the cycle for a few months.”

“I took this pill and then went trekking with my friends a week later. After the trek, I got my period for almost 25 days. I’ve never gotten such a long period in my life. I went to the gynecologist who then told me it was because of the pill I had taken.”

“I was on birth control pills to manage my PCOS. It was great for the skin and the period but it gave me depression – an often forgotten side effect. Then I consulted a psychiatrist and was put on antidepressant SSRIs… Which made me put on weight… Which worsened my PCOS… Which is what caused the whole situation to begin with! It was a terrible 2 years stuck in this cycle.”

“When you take an iPill, it’s almost like I’m on my period. First I PMS and then there is some blood. Constant hormonal fluctuations only to end with some withdrawal bleeding later on. It has happened each time I’ve taken the pill, which could be probably 5-6 times in life. I remember once I took an iPill closer to my period date, and my period date obviously got pushed. I don’t know how it works. But then I had the withdrawal bleeding first and after a gap of 2-3 days, I got down again. I got down twice in a span of like 10-12 days. Your normal period sucks, so imagine bleeding twice in a month.”

“I have a slightly higher testosterone than most women do, which meant my libido was also higher than normal. When I started taking contraceptives, my testosterone levels had corrected so much that it destroyed my libido. I stopped enjoying sex, I couldn’t orgasm anymore, and I got worried that I was falling out of love! Turns out all I had to do was hit a pause button on that little pill.”

“I was on Yasmin birth control pills on prescription from my gynecologist. It promised no side effects but I woke up every morning with severe acidity, had horrible mood swings and mild depressive tendencies and bloated during the time I was on it.”

“I tried a few emergency contraceptives. Never got pregnant so they seem to have worked. However, I’ve gotten very bad side effects from them. I experienced bloating, irregular bleeding, delayed periods and used to be very anxious. The effects used to last for a month, though I’m not sure how much was psychological after a point.”


Written By The Swaddle Team


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields *.

The latest in health, gender & culture in India -- and why it matters. Delivered to your inbox weekly.