I’ve known about IUDs for about four or five years now, but have always avoided getting one. Three years ago, I opted out and chose to get Nexplanon, the popular arm implant. Overall, I’ve enjoyed it…just not the weight gain associated with it. So I decided to suck it up (now that I’m 20, after all) and choose the five-year-long IUD. Here’s what happened.
IUDs are the T-shaped birth control devices that are placed into your uterus by your doctor. I’d highly suggest doing a lot of research (I have about three years of research behind me, but a discussion to your doctor could be enough) before deciding to choose this option. Most IUDs last around five years, but some can last as little as three years, or as much as ten years, and they’re 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
According to my doctor, Mirena is the most popular type of IUD for women my age (but I’d highly encourage you to speak to your doctor about what works for YOU). Mirena is a hormone-based IUD, but it uses the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy, which is similar to the hormone progesterone that occurs in your body naturally. This means there are less of the hormonal side effects with Mirena like many other forms of birth control (i.e. weight gain, cramping, moodiness).
Mirena prevents pregnancy in two different ways: 1) it thickens the mucus the mucus that lives on the cervix, which blocks and traps sperm, and 2) the hormones also sometimes prevent ovulation.
Most women I know who have Mirena brag about not having heavy (or any) periods and no weight gain.
So, after talking with my doctor, I decided Mirena would be my best option.
In a nutshell, here’s how the procedure goes: the doctor widens your cervix about 1/2 centimeter and inserts the IUD. BAM! It’s done.
This scares many women because the only other time your cervix is widened is when you give birth, so it’s a pretty painful procedure.
My appointment was at 3 PM. My best friend, Taylor, and I left early so we could grab a bite to eat and hangout. I really enjoyed spending time with her because she was a great distraction from the impending procedure, and she was able to drive me to and from the doctor’s. I’d recommend brining a friend or your partner.
Before the procedure began, the nurse handed me four ibuprofen (about 800mg), to which I responded, “Wait…am I not getting numbed for this?” I suppose it depends on your doctor, but some doctors do not do any numbing for the procedure. Four ibuprofen it was.
I shot back the ibuprofen and got in the chair/bed/stirrups. From there, my (attractive male) doctor entered with another (incredibly attractive male) resident doctor, a nurse, and the supervisor doctor. We had quite the party. My doctor had already talked me through the procedure, so my BFF turned on some relaxing music to help distract me from the talking and weird sounds of my vagina being stretched.
Before beginning, my doctor gave my va-jay-jay a quick check-up while I joked with everyone. I actually had a really good time during the lead-up for the procedure. The only thing that worried me was the fact that I did have a small instrument in my vagina and I kept laughing…and I was terrified it was going to shoot out and hit my doctor in the face.
Then he started to dilate me. Haha.
As he began, I exclaimed “Wow! That’s a lot of pressure!” because it was. The best way I can describe it is this: it’s just a lot of fucking pressure where you’ve never felt pressure before, and that pressure induces cramping, and it only worsens.
So imagine your worst period cramps, with intense pressure that only intensifies over the course of five minutes (or so). I can easily imagine how women pass out during this procedure. The pressure literally takes your breath away.
I don’t really remember much from thereon. I remember how much more painful it got. I felt like I was in goddamn labor. I had one arm over my face and one hand squeezing my friend’s hand. I was sweating and focusing on my breathing, trying not to scream or say much. I think I whimpered “it hurts so bad” a few times to the nurse, but that’s it.
As my doctor had me fully dilated (to only 1/2 centimeter, may I remind you), he began to insert the IUD. And that was a BITCH. Not only was there intense pressure and cramping but now he was maneuvering this thing around inside my uterus where the cramping was. I believe this is when I began to feel tears escaping my eyes.
The doctors, nurse, and my friend coaxed me the entire time. They told me how good I was doing, how it was almost over…and then it was over.
But the cramping continued and I felt so weak. I was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily, tears still streaming down my face. At this point, my friend looked at me and, with a concerned tone to her voice, whispered, “Mia…I don’t think I’ve ever seen you cry from pain before.”
The doctors eventually left so I could recover (because I had another procedure that had to be done after that!). I felt very sick, my uterus hurt, and I was very weak. I stumbled off the table and made my way to the bathroom where I felt I was for sure going to throw up or pass out…but I didn’t.
I laid on the cool bathroom floor for a few minutes before I went back to the room and my friend grabbed me some water. My doctor came back and asked if he needed to bring me anything. The incredibly cute resident doctor brought me two oranges and bought me a Coke from the vending machine. Those were the best oranges I’d ever tasted.
After about half an hour, my strength began to come back and the ibuprofen kicked in, lessening my cramping.
And I rocked the second procedure.
Afterwards, I kept thinking about how truly awful the procedure was. My doctors were great, it wasn’t awkward, and I had a lot of support…but FUCK did it hurt. I wondered if I’d ever do it again. But, as we pulled out of the parking lot, I watched as an incredibly pregnant woman walked to her car, and I laughed, turning to my friend, and said, “It was worth it.”
Since then, I’ve just had cramping. I haven’t had any spotting (yet), but my cramps have left me in bed or not wanting to do much. They aren’t that bad, but considering I haven’t had period cramps in well over four years now, they’re kind of new to me (and they may be intensified, but I wouldn’t know since I’m taking ibuprofen like candy). The cramping is slowly subsiding, though, and I’m feeling better and better about my decision.
So would I recommend getting an IUD? Yes. But I wouldn’t recommend it as someone’s first birth control, or at least not for a 14 or 15 year old girl. It’s intense, and I think anyone considering getting an IUD should do their research beforehand and be prepared to endure a pain like none they’ve ever experienced before. It’s incredibly painful, but it’s just five minutes of your life, and it’s worth it.
Hope I didn’t scare you.
Stay sexy and don’t get unintentionally pregnant.
Photo Courtesy of: Unsplash