Let’s get personal. For 19 years, I’ve been on the pill. As such, from 16 to 35, I’ve not birthed any needy sprats. Booyah.
But I had concerns. What’s my body and mental health like without continual hormones? Also, what if the current political climate causes health insurance coverage of the pill to stop? I don’t wanna be stuck with a $50-a-month pill bill.
I decided to get an IUD.
I ain’t a health care professional. I’m not suggesting you get an IUD. I’m not even sure I’m pleased with mine. I’m talking about my experience because choosing birth control is hard. Like, do I want the arm implant that may or may not make me more manic? Should I pick the hormonal IUD and hopefully stop getting my period but then maybe gain weight? Condoms are cheap, but shit: success rates can be as low as 85 percent. Constant reader, I’m not trusting my future to condoms. Who hasn’t had to dig out a busted rubber from Way Up There?
I decided on Paragard, a non-hormonal, copper IUD that lasts up to 12 years and has a 99 percent success rate.
I went into this knowing that everyone’s bodies react differently to IUDs. One friend of mine almost vomited because the IUD insertion hurt so much. Another felt a slight pinch at insertion but had death-cramps for a freakin’ month. Someone else expelled it. Another was allergic. One friend’s period completely disappeared. Another said she’d never had menstrual cramps but now they were dreadful and her period was longer.
The temptation of having 12 years of birth control outweighed the possible side effects. I made an end-of-Monday appointment with Planned Parenthood.
Hot tip: Schedule your IUD insertion on the cusp of your weekend in case you end up with shitshow cramps.
I met my doctor in a private room. She was a lovely woman with white hair who allowed time for my questions and concerns, then left so I could disrobe from the waist down. A paper modesty blanket was on my lap when she came back.
Pro tip: Schedule your IUD insertion during your period. Being on the rag can make it easier because your cervix is slightly dilated.
MEGA pro tip: Take pain medicine before you go to the appointment.
When I laid back and put my feet into the stirrups, I pictured my vag gushing blood like the elevator in “The Shining.” Because it’s awkward AF to be spread wide and red in front of a stranger.
My doctor talked me through the entire process. She showed me the IUD in its packaging. She told me when the speculum (i.e. the vag spreader) was going in. Next up in ew, but not hurty? The doc washed my cervix.
I stared at a nature poster on the ceiling while she measured my uterine depth, which sucked, but if a doc doesn’t know yer depth, she can accidentally perforate your uterus during insertion. You get softly jabbed with a stick in your pinkest parts. Ye and haw. This is when the cramps start.
Then the doctor inserted the IUD. It was done in a snap but led to a totally shitty series of uterine spasms that made me grit my teeth and let out several heavy breaths.
She trimmed the IUD’s strings and let me feel a clipping. It’s like a thinner fishing line that will soften over time from absorbing me-juices.
The appointment took 30 minutes, and though I felt raw, I was only at a 3/10 in pain and could drive myself home.
Two hours later, my uterus was like, “WTF? I didn’t agree to a new friend! I WILL PUNISH YOU!” Thus began the horror cramps. My pain level turned into a nine. I could barely walk. When I finally got to sleep, I repeatedly woke near tears.
Because I thought I was good at pain management, I went to work the next day. I was miserable. I couldn’t focus. The cramps were at an 8/10, sometimes worse.
I went into this process thinking, “A lil’ cramping? Who cares?” It wasn’t a little cramping. It was an entire week, nonstop. Through Wednesday, I was at an 8/10 in pain. Thursday dropped down to around 7/10. By Friday, I was at about a 5 or 6/10. The shittiness steadily decreased. It’s Monday, I’m a full week into the IUD experience, and I’m at a 2/10 in ache with occasional OW-stabs.
When I first considered an IUD I thought, “I dunno. Some people’s partners complain they can sometimes feel the strings.” But ARE YOU KIDDING ME? If I can take a week of my uterus feeling like it was surrounded by “Hellraiser” Cenobites, my eventual partner can handle the occasional sensation of a string-dick-tickle.
I’ll give y’all a holler at the three-month mark with an update on if this IUD experience gets worse, better, or weird.
Here’s to talking publicly about our bodies to normalize the conversation. If you have any questions about my experience, hit me up at [email protected] and I’ll try to answer them. Enough questions and we may run ’em as an anonymous Q&A column.