With Donald Trump and the right’s attacks on women’s access to birth control and abortions, it’s no surprise that healthcare providers have seen an uptick in the number of women who choose to prevent pregnancy via IUD.
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic or copper object that is inserted into the uterus which prevents sperm from coming into contact with eggs. The IUD is over 99% effective, making it safer than condoms and birth control pills. And an IUD can last from three to 12 years, which means a doctor can insert it and you can forget about it until it expires, knowing that you’re protected for a long time.
I decided to make the switch to an IUD in 2015 for many of the reasons noted above and more.
The pill was too easy for me to forget about. If I traveled, I wanted the convenience of a steady birth control method that I didn’t have to adjust my schedule for. If I lost health insurance, I wanted a way to protect myself for at least a year.
I wanted highly effective contraception that was almost fool-proof.
I decided the IUD would give me the freedom and peace of mind I craved.
After an initial exam with my gynecologist about the different types, I chose Skyla, a three-year IUD that is made specifically for younger women who have never had children. I assessed the risks associated with IUDs, such as the possibility that it may puncture my uterus or even fall out. My gyno assured me that these were rare side effects and told me if I had extreme pain or any problems, to call the office immediately.
During the insertion, I was seated on a table with my legs in the stirrups, much like a regular gyno exam. My doctor inserted the IUD with a long tube.
The whole process took less than a minute, but I have to admit, it fucking hurt.
I felt dramatic asking for a bag of cookies, but hey, I had also just seen my life flash before my eyes. The doctor and nurse were very caring and allowed me to stay as long as I needed until I felt well enough to go home.
My doctor told me that an IUD will usually cause more cramping and bleeding, and this can last for at least three months because my body had to get used to it. She also informed me that everyone is different, and my side effects might stop sooner.
Finally, she told me that the IUD may stop my period, and this is perfectly normal.
I ended up having serious cramping for only a couple of weeks, but I was looking forward to never having to worry about taking the pill on time or stressing out about a broken condom, so the painful cramps were worth it to me. The IUD did stop my period for several months, and to be honest, it was awesome.
I normally have heavy periods, so it was a relief not to deal with them for a while.
When I eventually did start my period again, I experienced incredibly painful cramps. These severe side effects have since waned for the most part, but the bottom line is your body definitely needs time to adjust to the new foreign object inside of it. This reality should be taken into consideration if you plan on getting an IUD before any major traveling or life changes.
Of course, the IUD does not prevent against STDs, so it is a good idea to use other forms of protection, especially with new partners.
In a very real way, the IUD was liberating for me.
While I had been on the pill, I always found myself anxious about the effectiveness. I worried about taking it on time and I had heard plenty of stories from women who got pregnant on the pill. For me, the pill wasn’t enough security against an unwanted pregnancy.
My IUD reduced my sex- and pregnancy-related stress.
Despite the awful pain at the time of insertion, I highly recommend it because, in the end, it’s so much easier than many other forms of birth control.
Having a form of contraception that no one can take from you and that you never have to worry about is real freedom.