There are a lot of contraceptives on the market for someone with ovaries.
It seems like every time I think I know them all, someone is like “Oh, you haven’t heard of [insert random name I would normally not associate with a contraceptive like “the ring”]?” and I have to stare at them blankly while they explain it to me.
Not to mention, once you decide on what type of contraception you would like to use, there are multiple brands, types, and dosages of each.
Fear no more, friends, I am here to explain one of the most popular kinds of contraceptives to you. The IUD, short for an intrauterine device, is a little T-shaped guy that will (hopefully) make your period much easier.
There are two main types: the copper IUD and the hormonal IUD. All are devices that look a little like a fish hook. The copper IUD is wrapped in copper and the hormonal is coated with a membrane that regulates the release of the hormone into your uterus over the time it is in there.
So how do they work?
The copper IUD damages sperm’s movement so that it cannot reach the eggs and thus you cannot get pregnant. This damage to the movement is due to the copper ions. The copper ions also have an effect on your uterine lining, and basically, act as a spermicide (aka sperm killer). The hormonal IUD releases hormones (usually progestogen or a progestogen-like hormone) that essentially does that same thing to your uterus as the copper ions and makes it a fatal place for sperm. Thus keeping you from getting pregnant.
So how long can you have one?
The copper IUDs vary from five to ten years, but most are used for five years. The hormonal IUDs range from five to three years depending on their size and hormone amount. For example, Mirena is a common hormonal IUD that can last five years, Skyla is a smaller hormonal IUD that lasts three years and Kyleena is a smaller IUD than Mirena but has more hormones that Skyla so it can last five years.
Also, keep in mind an IUD (hormonal or copper) can be removed at any time and your uterus will go back to normal (meaning period strength and fertility) nearly immediately.
Sounds great right? A walk in the park.
Well, as with any contraceptive, there are some downsides. The insertion is quite painful: no matter your pain tolerance you will feel it and it won’t be pleasant.
It kinda feels like someone digging around in your guts with a long pointy stick.
On the plus side, it is fast and in the long run, the years of painless contraception are worth it. Also, depending on the IUD you choose and how your body adapts, it can take some time to adjust. With both IUDs, the next day or two can be a bit rough with cramping and abdominal pain, and from patient testimonies, usually, the copper IUD takes a bit more adjustment than the hormonal.
But there is also a chance you will walk out from your appointment fine.
I was a bit weak for a couple of hours and had slight cramping but by the next morning, I felt back to normal. It all depends on your body and the IUD. Your doctor can give you a more tailored explanation of what to expect depending on your individual body when you talk to them.
Finally, you can have some spotting for about 1-3 months after the IUD is placed. This is completely okay and your period will go back to normal (and with a probably much lighter flow) or you may lose it completely.
Picking an IUD can seem daunting. There is a lot of information out there and a lot to choose from. Always talk to your doctor about what you are looking for in a contraceptive. They know the most and can find what’s right for you.
Personally, I love my IUD.
As someone who was seriously considering removing her uterus, I am living the uterus-free dream without having a hysterectomy. I don’t get my period, I can’t get pregnant, I barely have PMS. I basically removed all the attributes that right-wing men think make me a woman.
It’s a fucking dream.