Today I made the leap and got an IUD. Now, for the past two days I’ve been searching the internet and reading all kinds of horror stories about the insertion and time afterward, so I wanted to put something that addressed the other side. It is important to note that before I was on the pill I had extremely painful periods to the point where I would almost pass out in the first two days. I only didn’t because I would recognize it coming on and lie down, which would hold it off. The pill didn’t make them less painful, I just was able to more accurately time the midol/ibuprofen so that it would actually be effective, whereas before I’d wait till the last minute and at that point it doesn’t do any good. So, after 3+ years of taking the pill and paying every month for the refill and the hassle of trying to get my refill on time I finally decided to get an IUD.
There are now 3 IUDs on the market. The copper IUD Paragard which is non-hormonal and good for 10 years, but most doctors will tell you it can be used for 12. My mom used the copper and then they said 5 years but it would work for 8 and she was one of the (un?)lucky few to get pregnant on it and had my little brother. Then there is the Mirena and the newest one the Skyla which is by Mirena. Both of those are hormonal. The Mirena lasts for about 5 years and the Skyla lasts for 3. The Skyla is made specifically for women who have never had children before, but they’ll give it to you if you have had a child before. It is smaller than the Paragard and the Mirena and has a smaller dose of hormones. The Mirena releases 20 mcg of levonorgestrel a day, and the Skyla releases 13.5-14 mcg of levonorgestrel a day. I got the Skyla. I was thinking of the Paragard for a while, but one of the side effects is more painful and heavier periods, which I already have, so I didn’t want to risk making it worse. So, I opted for the Skyla. Less hormones sounds good to me. I did some research and if I did my math correctly (which I might not have. I never took calculus), then on the pill I got 300mcg of norgestrel/day, but now I’ll only get 14mcg of levonorgestrel/day. Basically, I’ll be getting less hormones, which is what I wanted.
So, the insertion. I was so nervous leading up to it. I was just as nervous as I got right before I walked down the aisle at my wedding, except I felt more like I was going to hurl rather than pass out. The Actor drove me to the OB/GYN where I had to take a pregnancy test and then went back for the whole ordeal. My blood pressure was 102/68, which surprised me because I was so nervous. I thought it would at least be close to the average 120/80. Then I had to strip waist down and wait. I am on my period. They told me it is easier to insert then because the blood can act kind of like a lubricant, and the cervix is easier to open and lower down. I sat waiting, rambling about nothing to try and steady my nerves, until the doctor came in. Everything moved very quickly. I put my feet up in the stirups, and she felt around to get a sense of my uterus after lubricating, and then she placed the speculum, which I’ve never liked not for the stretching which I don’t mind, but the sudden almost sharp edges. She cleaned my cervix and then measured my uterus to make sure it was big enough. Now, I’d read that the measuring part hurt the worst, and it was uncomfortable, but it was ok. I did wince but it was more out of a desire to make her stop than me being in actual, terrible pain. I’m not going to say that it was a walk in the park, but it wasn’t like ohmigod that was awful pain. She did measure it twice just to get an accurate reading, and my mind did silently curse her when she said she was going to do it again, but it was ok, really. Then came the actual placement of the Skyla IUD. Measuring takes a second, and the IUD feels about the same, except it takes maybe 3-5 seconds so the uncomfortable part lasted just a tad longer. I assume this is because the arms of the IUD are folded down and have to snap out once it’s placed. Then came the cramping. She asked me on a scale of 1-10 how bad the cramping was. At the time I said 7, but it really wasn’t that terrible. I’ve had 7s and it was really more like a 5-6. It subsided quickly down to like a 3 and stayed that way for a while. I got it in at 1, it’s been 2 1/2 hours and now I feel pretty much completely fine. I’d taken 200mg of ibuprofen an hour before and took 200 more when I got home, so that probably helps. They said to use a heating pad but I have a ice pack/heating pad and keep it in the freezer so I left it out to defrost, but I don’t think I need it now. Honestly, stuff hitting the uterus was what hurt, not the cervix expanding.
Was it painful? No. Was it uncomfortable? Yes. Was I crampy afterward? Yes. It’s not the best experience in the world, but the benefits greatly outweigh the 2-5 minutes it takes to get the thing in. I can’t say much about the actual IUD just yet, as it’s only been a few hours, so in a few weeks I’ll recap my experience with it then. They said that spotting and irregular bleeding is normal for the first 6 months, and it can take 6 months for your body to adjust to an IUD. Skyla and Mirena also claim to make periods lighter or stop them altogether, so we’ll see.
It’s important to note that everyone’s experience with birth control is going to be different. I just happen to already have shitty periods so getting an IUD was like a walk in the park compared to them. It was also a walk in the park compared to my last tattoo which took an hour to get and left me in pain for several hours afterward, unable to do anything except sort of focus on the first Harry Potter movie. So don’t let insertion stories scare you out of getting one if you’re considering it, and feel free to ask me any questions you have about it between now and May 2017 when I have to get a new one.