Alright, let’s start out with what an IUD is. IUD stands for intrauterine device, and it is a small t-shaped piece of plastic inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy, and is 99% effective. There are two different types of IUD, the hormonal and non-hormonal. They last anywhere from 3 up to 12 years, depending on the brand.
I didn’t go into this decision without research, I have been eyeing up this version of birth control for over a year but never had the nerve to follow through. I have relied solely on condoms as birth control because about two years ago I attempted to speak to my gynecologist about getting an IUD and I had such a negative experience so I didn’t continue on. I want to elaborate briefly on this.
I was up at my doctor, which is about two and a half hours away, so making an appointment isn’t as easy as having a doctor twenty minutes away. When I was speaking to the doctor she kept trying to tell me that she didn’t recommend IUD’s to women who hadn’t given birth, which is bullshit. If you don’t want to follow the link, “The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both recommend IUDs as the first line of defense for adolescents who are sexually active, primarily because they are safe and incredibly effective” (Erin Schumaker, 2015). I was very put off by her inability to accept what I wanted, and give me information on that rather than giving her outdated opinion on it. I do not like birth control pills, as a personal feeling, because I don’t like the idea of messing with my hormones. My hormones may be fucked up, but they’re my fucked up hormones and were created like that for a reason. She didn’t understand, so I left the appointment with some pamphlets and no clue.
In the end I went to Planned Parenthood in Madison to get the procedure done. Let me start out by saying, they were so fucking amazing and I recommend them to anyone and everyone. I had two separate appointments, the first was Tuesday to determine what I wanted and if I qualified for it, and the second was the actual insertion. I went in having one my research and I had settled on Paraguard, the non-hormonal IUD that would last upwards of 12 years.
If you’re new to my blog and didn’t catch my post called “Let’s Talk About Periods” which describes my rather painful and sporadic menstruation. While speaking to the nurse practitioner she was super open and honest about everything. I was comfortable and she knew what she was talking about. After the first appointment I switched my decision to Liletta, a hormonal IUD. This is new to the market, and is currently only FDA approved for three years, but should be up to seven soon. She explained to me that contrary to my understanding the hormonal IUD releases hormones only in the uterus.
So Thursday came around and it was time for the insertion. The same nurse practitioner who had helped me form my decision, was also the one who was going to do the insertion. During the procedure there was also a resident who observed the procedure. Luckily I am a very comfortable person and I didn’t mind that someone was using me to learn.
Quick walk-through of the process of the actual insertion.
- If you are not on your period you will have a pregnancy test done, and regardless they will perform STI screenings.
- Your doctor will arrive with all the necessary items, and should walk you through what they’re doing as they do it, and answer any and all questions.
- The doctor will before a bimanual exam where they insert two fingers into the vagina, and uses the other hand to press on the abdomen. This will help to accurately determine the position, consistency, size, and mobility of the uterus and identifies any tenderness, which might indicate infection.
- A speculum will be inserted and adjusted to stabilize the cervix. After stabilization the cervix and areas of the vagina will be disinfected with antiseptic. They may also rub lidocaine gel to act as a numbing agent.
- Then they will insert a sterile instrument known as a sound. This determines the length of your cervical canal to your uterus. If it is not between 6 cm and 9 cm, you are more likely to risk expulsion of the device.
- The sound is removed and you are ready for insertion which involves the arms of the IUD being folded down inside a tube. This tube will be pushed inside to the depth indicated by the sound, and the tube is removed when it is in the proper position in the uterus and the arms will open up.
- The doctor will then cut the strings that are attached so that they are only sticking out an inch or two inches. They should instruct you on how to feel for the strings to check and make sure that it is still in place.
After that you will be given a pad, because on the downside, you will bleed anywhere from two weeks to months after insertion. Within three to six months though, this will balance out and you will be met with more regular periods.
For me I am currently finishing up my first week with my IUD. The insertion for me was virtually painless. There were a few moments of cramping and some mild discomfort, but I didn’t even bleed until leaving the appointment. So far I have had bleeding nonstop, sort of like a light period, and a lot of cramping. I deal with this by wearing a pad or pantyliner all the time to be safe, and taking Ibuprofen as needed.
Think that an IUD might be right for you? Research, research, research, is all I have to say. I read up on all the pros and cons and side effects to make sure that I wasn’t getting myself into anything that could be potentially life threatening. I have friends who have the copper IUD, Paraguard, and the hormonal IUD’s as well. Copper does result in heavier periods, more cramping, and regular periods. So if you’re like me and already have awful periods, hormonal IUD’s give you less cramping, less bleeding, and sometimes can even get rid of your period completely.
Always speak to a doctor before getting the procedure to be sure that you have all the facts. This is a medical procedure and thus involves some risk, but let’s be honest. If you are a sexually active adult this is the most effective, economical, and easiest form of birth control. You don’t have to take a pill everyday, and you don’t have to worry about much of anything except the occasional string check.
I am completely satisfied with the service I received at Planned Parenthood. It was great, because they can bill your insurance, you can pay out of pocket, or you may qualify for a free IUD. Everyone deserves affordable birth control!