Welp. I did it. I took the leap. I made the jump. I did all of the metaphorical cliches that allude to diving or otherwise throwing one’s own body off of a high place in order to represent the gravity of the choice they’ve made. I got an IUD.
For the longest time I was avidly against changing my body’s natural rhythm and messing with my already imbalanced hormones to control my reproductive system, so I avoided birth control like the plague. It wasn’t until three months ago, when I started my first serious relationship that I discovered that condoms really don’t feel that good. (who would’ve thought?) I went to my obgyn to talk about the possibility of getting an IUD, since I had heard there were non-hormonal options, like ParaGard. She walked me through all the hormonal/non-hormonal possibilities, but said that she highly recommended an IUD that’s new to the market: Skyla. Skyla is being marketed specifically at nulliparous, younger women (that’s me!) because it’s smaller, emits less hormones than Mirena, (its “older sister”), and has an easier insertion process. I walked out of her office with some pamphlets, my first pack of back-up hormonal birth control pills, and a promise to order an IUD.
As with most of my big decisions, I scoured the internet for research and statistics. How effective is the IUD? What are the pros/cons? Did I want a hormonal option or a non-hormonal? More importantly, which one did I want?
I decided on Skyla because the insertion sounded easier, I liked the idea of the lesser amount of hormones, and I like to think of my uterus as being endearingly smaller than normal. Itching to not have to use the pill anymore, I placed the order for my IUD via my insurance, since the entire cost of the device was covered under my health plan. (Thanks, Obama!). Skyla arrived about a month later, and my gynecologist’s office called me to schedule an insertion appointment. Well, that appointment was yesterday, friends, and I can tell you – it’s one hell of a ride!
The insertion was probably the least painful part of the whole process. The residual cramping is not my best friend, and my uterus has never been crankier at me. Sorry, lil guy. Like a good little IUD patient, I took my 800mg of ibuprofen half an hour before the appointment, made sure I had eaten a good lunch, and attempted to get a lot of sleep the night before. When I got to the office, they took my urine sample, set me up in a room and made me strip from the waist down. I signed a consent form, took off my pants, and placed my feet in the stirrups, ready for anything. My gynecologist came in, asked me how I was doing, and began to explain the procedure to me. Kindly asking whether I’d like to know what she was doing or if I’d rather remain delightfully ignorant, I consented to her giving me a play-by-play. I wanted to know how this little plastic thing was going to make it inside my uterus. I’m somewhat sadistically fascinated by these things, so she grabbed the forceps and got going.
The beginning of the process feels somewhat like a PAP smear, not at all painful, I felt little to no discomfort. She spread some antiseptic on my cervix, then said I was going to feel a little pinch, so she asked me to cough. At this point, she had grabbed the tenaculum and grabbed the lip of my cervix, began pulling it down in order to align the uterine placement for insertion. Again, I didn’t feel anything (I suppose I’m one of the lucky ones). She stuck a measuring rod in, then explained she was going to dilate the cervix. The cervical dilation was probably the most painful part of the experience (maybe a 5 on the pain scale) – and it was a nice little taste of what childbirth feels like, I imagine. It just felt like a really concentrated period cramp with a lot of pressure. Then she inserted the Skyla IUD, an “Ow” and 15 seconds later, my cute little “T” was in place and ready to start fighting off sperm! She trimmed my strings and set me up for an ultrasound, and just like that I was the proud host of an IUD!
I left the appointment cramping pretty heavily, with some spotting in the afternoon. I had been spotting all day, however, prior to the insertion because HBC made me get a 3-5 day period every two weeks. The spotting meant that my cervix was already in a lower, slightly more open position, which explains the general lack of insertion pain. I spent the afternoon eating ice cream with my boyfriend, and we eventually settled in for the night with a bottle of wine and an episode or two of Sherlock.
I didn’t sleep well, the cramping kept waking me up, and I had a horrible stomach ache all night. (Though that might be the wine’s fault, and not little Lupe’s. That’s what I named her – Guadalupe. My IUD. Seemed fitting.) This morning I’ve had intermittent cramps that range on a pain scale from 1-3 out of 10. Although, I’m starting to believe in light of my nearly painless Brazilian wax I got last week that I might have a high tolerance for pain. Yay future child-bearing me!
I’m super thrilled about my newest little buddy. My uterus is not so much. However, in a few weeks, I’m sure my body will be as excited as I am about hassle-free birth control for the next three years of my life!