This summer, as I was getting ready to leave for Kenyon, I organized my clothes, bought bedding for my new room, packed some snacks, and took charge of my sexual health. In taking charge of my sexual health, I had my first gynecologist visit, and I made the decision to get birth control. It’s no secret that college is a time of casual hookups, and although I wasn’t planning on hopping onto the casual sex train, I did want to be prepared.
I did a lot of research about which form of birth control would be best for me before talking to my doctor. Right off the bat, I knew that I didn’t want to have anything with hormones in it because I had previously taken oral contraceptives from my eighth grade year until the summer before my senior year of high school. I used it as a period regulator and not as birth control, but I still experienced a lot of negative side effects from all of the faux hormones in my body. With that in mind, I ended up choosing the IUD (intrauterine device).
IUDs are small “t-shaped” devices that are inserted into a woman’s uterus. In essence, they prevent the sperm from meeting the egg, and therefore, keep a woman from getting pregnant. IUDs are great because they are put in once and they are effective anywhere from 5 to 12 years. Not only that, but IUDs are over 99 percent effective, and the Paragard IUD can be used as emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex.
After doing all of the research, I went to see my doctor, and after discussing, we decided that I would get the Mirena IUD. Although it does contain hormones, they are mainly localized in the uterus, and my doctor was worried that the ParaGard may have worsened my irregular periods. With all that settled, a week later, I was back at the doctor’s office to get my IUD inserted.
I’ll be honest: although quick, the process of getting an IUD inserted is by no means pain-free. People say that getting tattoos are painful, but I would venture to say that the pain of that procedure was ten times more painful than my tattoo was. Not only that, but I was essentially out for the count for the rest of the day, curled up in the fetal position on the couch. Luckily, the pain diminishes greatly by day two though, and by the end of the week, I was back to normal.
Another thing that I wasn’t aware of before getting my IUD was how much I would bleed for the first couple of months. I was basically spotting every day for six weeks, which I must say, totally sucks. It felt like I was on the last day of my period for months, and I was stuck wearing light tampons or panty-liners every day. Although I know that it could have been worse, I think I was most bothered by it because I was largely unprepared for it since it’s something that doctors tend to gloss over.
Luckily, at two months post IUD insertion, my daily bleeding has subsided, and I’m no longer experiencing any symptoms. On top of that, Mirena can lighten or even completely halt a woman’s period, so I haven’t had mine since my IUD was put in. I have had some mild cramping here and there, but I’m overall very happy with my decision to get an IUD. I feel much more conscious of my own body and more in control of my own sexual health, which is always good.
Image sources: Willowclinic.ca, Everywomanshealthcentre.ca, Cdn4.lethow.com, Cosmopolitan.com