Do You Have an IUD?

Do you have one? Are you getting one? Can we start a club?
Publish date:
November 18, 2016
periods, birth control, IUD, reproductive health, uterus, body issues

I know it's the indefinite topic du jour considering many of the nerve-wracking issues that may very well be gutted during a Trump presidency — you know, a woman's right to decide her own reproductive or non-reproductive health plans. We're all very nervous that birth control access may be embargoed until gourd knows when, so an IUD seems like the most economical plan, right? Just set it and forget it! Plus there are ones that span from three, to five, to TEN years. But the wacky thing about them is that everyone seems to have a different experience.

I got the Mirena IUD back in March 2015 because I was sick of taking the pill. I was fine on the pill, nothing crazy in terms of side-effects for me thankfully, but I wouldn't really remember to take the pill at the same time every day like you're supposed to and also it was just annoying for me, personally. All of my girlfriends were like IUDs are great... but bear warning... the insertion is... beyond pain.

So that was probably the biggest deterrent for me. That and the idea of having a double-sided fish hook jammed through my cervix and planted inside my uterus to prevent getting pregnant... which could also possibly perforate said uterus and swim around inside me so I'd have to get a surgeon to remove it from gourd knows where in my body. Yes, "perforation" is a risk — extremely rare, but it just sounds so HORRIFIC. There are other risks/side effects but largely it seems like top three safest and most effective birth control method.

So anyway, I got mine almost two years ago-ish. I talked to my gynecologist about it and she was like, "sure, do what you want, that's fine, woo hoo" (that's my informative, no bullshit, no frills, to the point, gynecologist). She called the pharmacy who called my health insurance company to make sure it was covered and that was that. I schedule the "installation" for soon after my period when the cervix is the softest and most penetrable, supposedly. I scheduled it in the AM on a workday, thinking I'll be fine, it's fine, I'm fine, everything's fine.

Word of advice: do not do this. Plan this on an off-day or give yourself the day off.

The actual procedure lasts like 15 minutes. I was told to take a bunch of ibuprofen beforehand to combat the cramping that will occur when your uterus attempts to violently evict its new guest upon first arrival. Check. I also YouTubed so many videos about IUDs just to learn everything about them and demystify the whole thing and you know what? EVERYONE has a different experience. I really couldn't gauge how I should be mentally steeling myself for this so I went in there with the inevitable mindset that it's fine, it'll be fine, everything's gonna be fine, I'm fine.

Well, you know what? It was fine! Sort of. The procedure indeed was very brief. After measuring my uterus or whatever, my doctor took the Mirena out of the packaging and handed me the pamphlet from the box. The IUD comes in a long tube-like gun thing that honestly looks like plastic old-timey long-barreled pistol, but that's just the part that gets it in ya. I tried to relax on the table but I mostly just kept really still?

My doctor told me when it was about to happen and just said, "You're going to feel some pressure and a big cramp." And I did. It was not the worst pain I have ever felt though it was intense (yet brief). What was notable about it was how alien the sensation felt because it was coming from inside me, as if my uterus was trying to sucker punch myself from the inside. My doc snipped the strings that hang from the IUD (so you can retrieve it later) and handed them to me so I could feel them. They felt like fishing wire.

"Check that these are still hanging regularly so you know your IUD is still in place," she said. And that was it. They apparently curl up so your partner doesn't feel them during sex but that kind of makes it difficult to feel them myself. So having a partner around to help check is actually quite handy.

"Now, don't go running out just yet," my doctor advised. "Have a sit in the waiting room for about 10 minutes and a glass of water."

So I did that. And about a couple minutes in... Oh. Dear. Lorde. My body was in revolt. It started slow but the cramping was SEVERE. It was as if that little IUD (and they are actually really small IRL) started a goddamn conga line in my insides. I was so sure that I was going to throw up for a minute. You know how your saliva glands start pumping out way more saliva right before? That was happening. But then I was also so sure that I was going to pass out. You know how your hearing starts to go all seashell-y and your vision gets all tunnel-y before fainting? That was happening. I just sat there unable to move while sweating profusely and silently begging my body not to do anything grossly embarrassing in this waiting room full of impatient-looking young professionals.

The whole time my boyfriend had been texting me to keep him updated on what was happening and even had some sort of panel going amongst his lady coworkers about how they handled getting their IUDs (to which I believe they all advised him to go get her now, she will not be okay) and finally I texted him, "M'AIDEZ M'AIDEZ, THIS BIRD'S GOING DOWN! LINOLEUM, HERE I COME!" with the address of my doctor's office. In 15 minutes, he Uber'd over to whisk me away and put me in bed. And to the credit of the receptionist, when he came to scoop me up, she asked, "Sable, do you know this man? Is he fine to pick you up?" which I appreciate. Because who knows — maybe there are young men in business casual attire just popping into gynecologists' office waiting rooms to poach weak crampy women.

I called out sick from work that day and was on-and-off cramping all day but just got bed rest and was pretty fine overall. The spotting was also on-and-off for about two weeks but then I didn't get my period at all for about three months. And when I did, it was light spotting for three days and would not return for another few months. So far, so good!

And since then I feel like I've been having some sort Baader Meinhof syndrome where all I hear or read about are IUDs (I mean, especially now) so I'm always jazzed to talk about them.

Which, after my longwinded wind-bagging, leads to the big Q:

  • Do you have an IUD?
  • Are you planning on getting one?
  • Let's talk about our IUD experiences! Seriously, I want to know how everyone's "installation" went. I find it morbidly fascinating but also like a We did it! kind of occasion, you know? High five!