2 years with a Copper-IUD, My Experience

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.)
  • non-hormonal
  • 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.

My Experience

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.

Going With the Flow

I have struggled with this for a while. I realized I had not normal digestion problems at the end of 2014. I had to record everything I ate to figure out what the issue was and do the Whole 30 program to reintroduce foods to make sure my doctor’s interpretation was accurate. It was determined that I had stress related irritable bowel syndrome. Things like alcohol, sweets and heavily processed food cause severe bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea. Needless to say, dealing with that made it hard to go with the flow…

I just remember having to bring my own food everywhere and being anxious about going out to eat. While I may have felt great and lost a lot of weight, I was alone a lot and people voiced how annoying it was for them to have to deal with my IBS. That put stress on me, which only caused me more digestion issues. So I stopped hanging out with others, unless it was my partner and my family when I took trips home.

This lead to the most rigid routine I have ever followed and possibly depression from being solo most of the time. I planned out everything. I became obsessed with it to the point of keeping a detailed schedule of exactly what and when I would eat for breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. I also did this with my workouts, walks, yoga and pretty much any movement I made.

Mean while, I was dealing with nutrient deficiencies from being on birth control for over a decade, my cycle went AWOL, my partner’s time in school was being extended, my funding at work was coming to an end and I had so much to complete before that last day. I became so burnt out.

When the specialist I talked to told me to stop all the obsessive behavior and focus on listening to my body’s needs, I was a mix of feelings. “Thank goodness!” “So… how do you do that again?” “How long will this take?” “It is good that I will have plenty of time to focus on this.” “What’s on the schedule for dinner?” “Can I really stop running and resistance training for months?” “I wonder if I can find someone to talk to to help deal with this and not break the bank…” You know, your stereotypical female response of thought vomit.

Even a reader of this blog recommended that I go with the flow when it came to visiting my family. I had 3 trips during the Fall where I was put to the test and last week’s trip to my hometown made me feel like all my hard work was worth it. I had some vague plans to collect the last of my belongings from my mother’s house, see as many friends and family as possible, enjoy some Ted Drewes frozen custard and eat my favorite sandwich, but I just let all of that happen naturally. I was there to visit and worked around their schedules and what was decided among the group.

I am the type of person who is always trying to better themselves. For a few years, I got caught up in myself and forgot that one of my life goals was to be a thoughtful person. My maternal grandmother I did not get to meet, but the stories I hear about her are ones that melt my heart and makes me wish I had met her. She seemed like a kind, generous, go with the flow woman. I have always wanted to improve those qualities within myself in hopes that I will be remembered like she is by so many people.

I can not explain how much better I feel just relaxing. Sure, my digestion is better if I choose particular foods and get out for a walk everyday. However, letting things happen naturally lately has really made me feel whole again. I feel like there is a metaphor here or something because I am a serious river town gal. I grew up along the Mississippi and have loved every river town I have lived in or visited. 🙂

Day in My Life

I like seeing how others go about their days. I find it useful for picking up techniques to make life more efficient and a lesson in being flexible. So I thought I would share my typical day.

7:00 AM – Alarm goes off and take my temperature. I take my temperature as one of the ways to track my cycle. My doctor is having me track it using the Fertility Awareness Method. I sometimes wake up before 7:00 AM, but have been taking that time to read in bed so I can measure my temperature at the same time everyday.

7:15 AM – Take a probiotic, start drinking a quart of water, use the restroom if needed and put away all clean and dry dishes. I am always pretty thirsty when I wake up in the morning and I try to drink water until I start to feel hungry which can be anywhere from 8:30 to 10:00 in the morning.

8:30 – 10:00 AM – Eat breakfast and take my daily vitamin. Check email, watch some videos, do some chores, and clean up for the day.

10:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Volunteer at the museum. Not everyday, but whenever the museum lets me know they need someone to help with the exhibit change over or they need someone to give a mansion tour.

1:00 – 3:00 PM – Eat lunch. This is pretty flexible because I will eat when I am hungry and am able to take a break.

4:00 – 5:00 PM – Workout, Yoga or walk followed by a snack if I am hungry. My snack is usually homemade baked good or something like a Larabar or RXbar.

7:00 – 10:00 PM – Quality time with my partner. We eat dinner and then talk, play a game or watch TV together.

10:00 – 11:00 PM – Bedtime, I have been laying down around 10 PM and reading until I feel ready to sleep.

I want to start waking up earlier and get started on packing us up for the move or sorting out what to sell.



Feeling Good!

I just feel good. It has been a while since I felt good about all aspects of my life. I am sure it is linked to the most recent changes coming about all at once. My partner and I have had a lot of quality time together lately (so my love cup feels full), I have been very consistent with eating well and not over-eating, I am back to drinking a gallon of water each day, volunteering has been getting me out of the house more and I got to work out for the first time in 6 months this week. It has also been beautiful out most of this week, so much sun and temperature above 40!

I just feel like I do not have anything to complain about right now. Please feel free to share what is good in your life right now 🙂