Disclosure, I have some TMI (Too Much Information) level stuff in this blog post. Nonetheless, I feel it is very important to share this information for women’s health reasons.
Before the IUD
Two years ago, I decided to change my method of birth control. I have been on 3 different brands of birth control pills since I was about 18.5 years old. Back then, I was a dysfunctional human being one day a month because my cramps made it impossible to stand unless I overdosed on analgesic and strapped a heating pan to my lower abdomen. Also, I had my first irregular cycle ever (likely due to the stress of my first semester in college) and I was thinking about becoming sexually active.
The pill was what my doctor recommended and I figured it was the obvious choice because it seemed like the most reliable option. After I started taking the seasonal birth control pill though, I noticed a lot of negative changes. My sex drive was non-existent, I became anemic and my cycle slowly disappeared completely. I went from having a 5 day cycle to a 4 day to a 3 day pretty quickly. Slowly it dropped down to a 2 day cycle. Then as I was losing weight in 2015, I had a one day cycle and then no cycle for 2 whole years.
I was scared, especially after Googling all sort of things in regards to losing your period. On top of that, a conversation with my cousin about birth control pills made me connect the lack of sex drive, anemia and lack of cycle to the pill I was on. After doing more thorough research, I learned being on the pill for more than a decade is not well research and most of the experience others documented were similar to mine. So it was not just was type of pill I was on…
Making the Decision
Next step was to begin researching a new method of birth control, since now I am sexually active and hoped my sex drive would return as soon as I discontinued the use of the pill. I wanted something non-hormonal, which did not leave me many options that were easy to obtain and something that worked for my partner and I. I decided upon the Paragard copper intrauterine device (IUD) for the following reasons:
- affordability (It did not cost me anything, but a doctor’s copay.)
- easy of use (in that once your doctor implants it you are good to go)
- few and manageable side-effects
- length of effectiveness (it protects you for 12 years).
Also, I had a friend who loved hers and it is the only copper IUD available in the US. However, with ALL forms of birth control there are risks. The risks associated with an IUD are serious and should not be taken lightly. The biggest risks in my opinion was the possibility of the IUD perforating your uterus and the rare chance of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.
The first few months to year should be thought of as a trial period. Many woman get an IUD each year, but have them removed within a few months due to many reasons that I sum up to being just not the right birth control for them. It is common for women to experience discomfort with the device, birthing of the device (meaning your body expels it on its own), severe cramps for weeks, and more. That was not my experience, however.
The insertion was not very comfortable, but neither is having my cervix scraped once a year for my pap smear. I mild cramping, in my opinion because the cramping during my teenage years was many times for painful, for less than 24 hours. I spotted a little, but it was not your normal cycle like spotting. I was discharging rubbery like tissue that was not as dark as blood and was tan in color at times.
The real test to me was how well it would work for my partner and I during sex, especially since my issue with my previous birth control was resolved with the fact that Paragard in non-hormonal. Here is where my over self-awareness came into play. Our first moment of intercourse with the IUD was very distracting. I was thinking about every sensation and suddenly wondered if I would know or more like feel if the IUD perforated my uterus. Needless to say, I did not get off. My partner said he could feel the strings (the strings that are attached to your IUD and allow your IUD to be removed eventually), but now does not feel them.
I could even feel the strings rubbing against the walls of my vagina for the first year. After half a year past I stopped over thinking everything completely. Sex is more enjoyable than it has ever been for me and my sex drive is more reminiscent to my teenage years. Additionally, it feels so good not to have to worry about taking a pill every day around the same time and about whether what I am consuming might effect my birth control.
Overall, I am happy with my choice. I do not regret it. I am going to end this post answering the 3 most common questions I had received from talking to friends about this. Please leave ANY questions you have below in the comments and I will respond as soon as possible.
Does it hurt?
Insertion was painful, but only for the brief moment they opened my cervix. I might have a highly tolerance for pain though due to having extremely painful cramps as a teenager. For the rest of the day after insertion (I had a late afternoon appointment), I experienced mild lower abdominal cramping. Since then I have not experienced any unusual pain. I am slowly getting more painful cramps with each cycle, but it is still a vast improvement over the cramps of my teenage years.
Are your periods painful and heavy?
Oh, yes they are heavy. The pain as I explained in the last answer is manageable compared to my teenage years. I have been going through 8 regular tampons plus 2 overnight pads in the first day of my cycle. Day 2 is more like 5-6 regular tampons and 1 overnight pad. Things greatly decrease from there. This is heavy for me and my previous cycle experiences. After I use up my current supply of feminine products I will be using a mental cup and period panties so reduce waste and save money.
When are you going to get it removed?
When my partner and I are ready to start trying to have children. Simple as that. Just have to make a doctor’s appointment to have it removed and can start trying immediately.