July 02, 2013

My Experience With the IUD and How it Improved My Life

by countrycutie

If you've ever experienced heavy flows, severe menstrual cramps or forgotten to take your pill, the IUD might just be the answer to your contraception needs!

What is the IUD?

9% of women using contraception use a method called IUD or intrauterine device. The IUD is a small, t-shaped plastic device that prevents sperm from reaching an egg in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

The IUD is inserted vaginally by a medical professional and stays inside the body for 5-12 years, depending on the brand chosen.

The Mirena IUD can stay in for up to 5 years, but can be removed sooner if you choose. The Paraguard can stay in for up to 12 years and again can be removed sooner. The Mirena does release hormones into the body so if that is something you would like to avoid, you should go with the Paraguard. Do your research and talk to your doctor before selecting one IUD brand.

Before getting your IUD inserted, your doctor will measure your cervix to get the right fit and minimize your discomfort over the next years you will be wearing it. This "fitting" will most likely take place just before the insertion.

To insert, your doctor will collapse the plastic T into a stick and insert it into your vagina. You will be awake during the procedure and will feel pressure and pain during the process. When the plastic reaches the cervix, your doctor will open it like an umbrella, creating the t-shape. A string will hang from the bottom of the plastic so it can be removed in the future and you can periodically check that it's still in place (it shouldn't go anywhere, but you should definitely check regularly for your own protection).

When first inserted, the string feels a bit like fishing line. It can be felt by sticking a finger in the vagina and feeling around. Most men do not notice the string during intercourse, mine didn't and he actually searched for it. Over time the string will become softer like thread and much less noticeable.

My Experience

I chose an IUD because I suffered from extremely heavy menstrual flows and severe cramps around the time of my period. I had endured these hard periods from the time I reached puberty. The Mirena IUD is known to reduce cramps and flow, more so than the Paraguard, which was my reason for choosing Mirena. Since I wasn't having much luck with the pill reducing my cramps, I decided to give the IUD a shot.

When first inserted, I felt extreme pain. I was hot, sweaty, and cramping worse than I had ever cramped while on my period. The nurses literally had to lay me down and hold a damp washcloth to my forehead. After an hour I felt guilty and forced myself to drive the 3 miles home where I went to straight to bed.

After about 24 hours the pain subsided enough that I could move around. For about 2 weeks following the insertion, my stomach felt upset and I felt gassy and uncomfortable. I also bled nonstop for about 3 weeks - a pretty steady, heavy flow. I really started to question my decision but then, my flow stopped and the pain subsided. I felt great!

I have had the IUD for about 2 years now and have not had cramps that could not be controlled with ibuprofen. When I do have cramps, they are very minor and so infrequent that they could just be my reaction to something I ate rather than menstrual cramps. The best part is I haven't had a period for 2 years! You wouldn't believe the insane satisfaction I feel.

The IUD is just as effective, if not more so, as the pill and you never have to worry about remembering to take a pill.

The downsides to the IUD? Because about 90% of women on the IUD do not have a period, it is a bit more difficult to catch an unexpected pregnancy. For this reason, I recommend continuing to use condoms. Since the IUD doesn't protect against STDs, condom use should be a given if you are not committed to one person. No form of birth control is perfect 100% of the time except sterilization. If you do get nervous that you may be pregnant, take a pregnancy test. If the test is positive, call your doctor right away as the IUD will need to be removed.

All in all, I highly recommend the IUD for women who are bad at remembering to take the pill. I also recommend it for women who experience severe cramping, women with heavier flows and any woman who does not want to get pregnant in the next few years. The IUD can be removed at any given time if you decide you would like to become pregnant. Pregnancy is possible immediately after the IUD is removed.

Do you have an IUD? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below!