It’s been over a year since I got my IUD, and with women’s reproductive rights all over the news right now, it seems to be the perfect time to give you my one-year update. If you’re curious about the IUD basics as well as what the procedure is like, please refer to my previous article, where I describe my experience when I first got it put in. For those of you who don’t know, I currently have a Mirena IUD. What this means is that as we speak, I have a small T-shaped device that was implanted into my uterus, which essentially prevents me from getting pregnant.
Now that my IUD and I have spent a year together, I want to share with you the how it has affected me both physically and mentally.
As far as my physical health has been, I haven’t had any major side effects from the Mirena. I haven’t experienced in changes in my diet or overall health. Additionally, I am still period free (which is amazing), although I do typically get cramping and minor PMS symptoms when I would normally have my period. Aside from that, I have been more careful to reduce my risk of infection (IUDs put you at a higher risk for complications if you get an STI or even a yeast infection). I was on the birth control pill for about 5 years prior to getting my IUD (I took it for period related issues in middle and high school), and I found that I experienced a much more pronounced change in my diet and my weight while on that. And, while the Mirena’s impact on a woman’s body varies, I have found that it has been the best form of birth control that I’ve used. All in all, my physical health has been greatly helped by my IUD because I no longer suffer from incredibly heavy periods or the anemia that went along with it.
Unfortunately, my mental health has definitely been more affected by the Mirena. There have been a lot of recent studies that have come out with research that has shown that hormonal birth control leads to a higher risk of mental health issues among young women. And, guess what? The Mirena IUD had a greater risk of increased mental health problems when compared to many other hormonal birth control options. I can tell you with a decent amount of certainty that I have definitely felt these side effects most.
I should say that I’ve suffered from mental health issues from before I started hormonal birth control, and I also know that for myself, I’ve had a lot of hardships throughout this past year that were not particularly generous to my mental state. And, I can also say with confidence that some of my worst years of depression occurred while I was one the hormonal birth control pill. That being said, my own anxiety and depression have been much more present in my daily life over the past 13 months than they had been previously. My mental health has actually been affected to a point where I have had to start taking medication in order to better manage my anxiety.
Nonetheless, I am still incredibly happy to have my IUD. Although I have experienced side effects from my hormonal birth control, I think that for right now, having a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy is well worth all of the negatives that I have experienced. I can’t say that I’m happy that I have to deal with panic attacks and random bouts of depression, but my IUD is giving me the freedom to have control over my own body, which is a privilege that a lot of women are unable to have. My IUD makes me feel powerful because it allows me to take charge of my sexual interactions, and it takes away the vulnerability that many women feel when they need to rely on the man for birth control (although condoms are still important to use—STIs are real, people!). Sex isn’t scary anymore, and that’s freaking awesome because it never should be. Furthermore, choosing to get my Mirena has allowed me to love my body even more because I know that it is completely and wholly mine.
If you’re considering an IUD or any other form of birth control, I cannot recommend it more highly. Obviously, it is something that you should discuss with your doctor because each form of birth control can affect every woman differently, but it can make a big difference in your life, and if you are a young woman who is sexually active, or even think you may be at some point down the road, it’s definitely and empowering decision to make.