Archive | July, 2012

IUD and Me

13 Jul

I recently decided to get an IUD, or intrauterine device. This was after a long process of weighing the pros and cons for this type of birth control. Currently in the US, there are two available for women. The hormone containing Mirena and the hormone free Paraguard. I choose Paraguard. It was most appealing because it was hormone free, lasts up to 10 years, and was one of the most economical forms of birth control out there.

So before I get into the adventure, here is the 411 on an IUD. It is a T-shaped device that is placed in the uterus and is over 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. The hormonal IUD releases levonorgestrel which keeps the woman from releasing eggs and it can also reduce menstrual bleeding. The method in which the copper IUD works is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to affect sperm motility by releasing copper ions. With immobile sperm, there cannot be fertilization. Some also believe that the device creates an irritation in the uterus making it difficult for an embryo to implant.

I had to wait until I was on my period because that would be when my cervix would be most receptive to receiving the IUD. May 17th was the fated day that I popped 600mg of ibuprofen (they recommend that you take some pain relievers about 30 minutes before you come in) and drove myself to the clinic.

What I really enjoy about my gynecological clinic is that there are not harsh glaring fluorescent lights staring you back in the face as you lay on the table wearing that gown with too many holes in it. The room is tastefully painted and has a small little lamp emitting a nice friendly glow. I was relaxed and going over what I knew about the contraception and the insertion procedure (thanks YouTube!)

Finally my midwife and her nurse came into the room. I found out that this procedure was one of my midwife’s favorite things to do, ha! She asked me if I had any questions about the copper IUD and I said no, telling her that I am a Sexologist, so I am pretty familiar with the product. She warmed up the speculum, lubed it up, and we were off.

My midwife talked about each step of the procedure before she did it and I was following along in my head. She explained to me that because I have never had a child, my cervix has never been opened and that she may have a little difficulty getting it in, but she has never failed at an implantation, so no worries.

She sounded my uterus, through my cervix with a wand, to see how deep she needed to insert the IUD.

“You’re going to feel some pressure”

Not so bad.

She open the package containing the IUD and I was shown how the arms were folded down in the insertion device along with the little copper coils. She warned before that I may feel a little more pressure than before and that I should take a breath. On the count of three…






Hello cramp from hell! I tensed up immediately and was shocked at how much it hurt. I didn’t think it would be much worse than the sound going through my cervix, but it was.

After breaking out in a cold sweat, I was still trying to keep it cool. She said that I would probably have some intense cramping the first few days and an extended period/spotting. After 6-8 days the cramping should subside and I should be back to normal. I listened as she told me that she cut the strings about 3cm so that I could check them and that they will eventually soften with time. She said I did great and told me that I would be good and pregnancy until 2022. AMAZING, but I was too uncomfortable to make any more small talk.

I got dressed and walked to the desk to sign out and do the paperwork stuff and schedule my 6 week check. All the while, I could feel my uterus contracting more and more as time went on. She was not very happy with me. I scrambled to my car, just wanting to get home to my bed and painkillers. I have never been more thankful that I live only a mile away from my clinic, but it seemed like the longest mile! I was sitting in my car, audibly breathing and telling myself to relax…relax…maybe it’s all in your head…get a grip Meg! As soon as I got home, I ran upstairs and curled into the fetal position.

I am a worst-case scenario planner and all I could think about was “what if something went wrong” “what if they have to take it out and put another in” and other crazy things like that. I don’t ever recall reading anything online about the crazy intense cramping that the insertion may cause, which is part of the reason why I’m writing this article. Contraction after contraction, I finally gave in and took a vicodin and slept. Fast forward a few days and my period ended, but I still had wicked awful cramps. The cramps weren’t ordinary menstrual cramps that I was used to, but “it feels like I am going into labor” cramps. I completely went over the 6-8 additional days of cramping. Some days they were debilitating. I took a lot of ibuprofen and vicodin those two weeks. But one day, the pain was gone! It was such a relief.

I am at the point now that I actually forget that I have it in me. I am very happy now with this birth control. It wasn’t my intention to scare or dissuade you from getting an IUD with this story. I wanted to share my story so that you could have a first-hand account of my journey. Would I go through this again? Absolutely. Despite going from having a three to four day period, to one that lasts six to seven days, having a non-hormonal form of birth control is a more than acceptable price to have added long term protection against pregnancy. Also, it is one of the economical birth control options around at $6.25* a month. Win-win.

I still recommend that you use an additional barrier method of contraception because while an IUD protects against pregnancy, it does not protect against STD/STI’s.

To read more about Paraguard and Mirena, please click on the links below. Do your research and when it comes to sex, everything is OK here.

*My IUD plus cost of insertion was about $750. Divided into 120 months (10 years) it worked out to be $6.25 a month. Check with your insurance company about IUD coverage because many do cover some portion of the expense. Also check with your clinic for payment plans that they may offer.