When I first learned about the copper IUD (Paragard), I knew it was the perfect solution for my seemingly complicated birth control needs. You see, I had a terrible experience with the pill. I got seriously fucked up on the 5 different concoctions they swore would be better than the last. I got fat, pimply, and depressed. After about 6 months of trying the pills and having them fail miserably, I decided that I could live without it. My confidence was shot, self esteem gone, and my libido was seriously lacking. No pill was worth all that. This is was 2 years ago. I was resigned to the fact that I was just going to have to ‘risk it for the biscuit’ as they say 😉 That is, until I heard about the Paragard IUD. The NON HORMONAL IUD. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
I got my copper IUD two weeks ago, and I feel it is now my responsibility to tell the world of my experience. No amount of research prepared me for the actual appointment. Let me preface this by saying that all bodies are different! What was a painful experience for me, may not be so painful for someone else. In fact, my roommate got her IUD 2 weeks before me and she had a completely different experience than me. (Side note: If you’ve given birth, inserting the IUD is supposedly less painful.)
For the first time ever I had a male gynecologist, and boy did I appreciate his clear and blunt way of letting me know what was up. The phrases “This is going to cause a big cramp” and “You will feel some pain” were very much appreciated for a girl who has no tolerance for cottling when it comes to painful things. If it’s going to hurt, I want to know it! My doctor was not shy about it the fact that there was no ‘might’ about it, I WOULD feel some pain. It helped me feel better prepared.
First came the usual clamp thing that he miraculously stuck a good 12 inches up my vagina (*side note: I’m not a doctor, I don’t know the names of medical equipment and I’m not claiming to. I’m telling you about my experience through my own brain, so yes some exaggeration will be allowed and terminology will be completely made up of ‘thingys’ and ‘mabobbers’). It was uncomfortable, but not unmanageable. Then shit got serious.
“First I’m going to clean your urerus with an antiseptic. It may sting a little bit here,” my doctor informed me. I didn’t really feel anything at this point, I let my guard down a little bit and relaxed. “Well if that was supposed to sting,” I thought, “then I must be in the clear! I’m so ready ready for this!” I little naive me actually thought these words before the actual insertion. “Alright, Sarah! That was the easy part. I’m now going to begin the insertion of the Paragard IUD,” my doctor continued as I’m mentally doing a happy dance, thinking this whole thing would be a breeze. Then I saw him put in this super long, super cold metal bar… Then the pain started.
I’ve never had a child before, but I think this pain may have been a step and a half below child birth. Holy shit it hurt! I tensed up, which I honestly think made it that much worse. I know it’ll be difficult, but I’d suggest relaxing as much as possible while they’re putting it in. It’s like tensing up your arm for a shot makes you much more sore than just staying relaxed, at least I’m assuming….
Anyway, the metal rod went in. OUCH! I tried to breath through it, but damn it was intense. Then my doctor said “I’m about to put in the IUD, so you’ll feel another big cramp. This one will be a doozy in 3…2…1…” Yup. BIG cramp. I felt faint. Dizzy. Near tears. My doctor asked me how I was doing and the only thing I could muster was “It’s better than a baby!” Which made them laugh, which made me want to cry. The procedure felt like it took forever, but it was probably only 8 minutes total. My roommate said her insertion also hurt. We complained about it together for about 3 days.
I knew I should expect some cramping, but what I got was much worse. I got home and writhed in pain for about 4 hours. The only thing that really helped was my heating pad on full blast. For the next week the heating pad and popping ibuprofen like skittles became the norm for my existence. The cramping was terrible! It wasn’t a consistent cramp for the entire week and a half; it would come and go. I would go to work (I’m a teacher) and sit at my desk with my heating pad on me all day, since it was the only thing that helped. My roommate was lucky and only had cramping on the first day. That was what I was expecting too, but I got the short end of the stick 😦
Now it has been 2 weeks since I got my IUD, and I am feeling much better. I had my first period with the IUD and it was even more of a blood bath than normal. Be prepared for Niagara Falls… My roommate and I both had similar experiences with our first period. She said her second one was much lighter, so here’s to hoping!
After this experience I have the following advice for anyone looking to get an IUD:
- Do extensive research about each kind of IUD! Find out the insertion process, the risks, and the differences between all of them. Base your choice off your research and what you know is best for YOU. Don’t get the same kind as your friend because she says it’s better.
- Understand that it is painful, but a few short weeks of pain is worth it for up to 12 years of not having to worry about pregnancy (Paragard lasts for 12, the others last 3-5 years). However, listen to your doctor when s/he tells you about the risks of pregnancy. No birth control is ever 100% effective, so it’s still good to listen and be careful.
- Take Advil/Tylenol/Ibuprofen/Your anti-inflammatory drug of choice at least an hour BEFORE your appointment. If they offer you some after, take that too. Unless you’re nervous about taking too much, then don’t. The point I’m trying to make is take the anti-inflammatory because it seriously helps.
- Try your best to relax during the appointment. Tensing up will make it hurt worse. Just breathe through it and remember that it’s better than having a baby that you’re not ready for!!
- Be sure you have a heating pad on hand. This is the only thing that kept me alive through my week of terrible, mind numbing cramps.
- Checking for the strings can be difficult, and you may have to dig. It can be awkward, so it’s perfectly fine to ask your boyfriend to find them ;P
If you have any other questions about getting an IUD and my experience with it, please feel free to ask me!!