IUDs: Are They Really That Scary?

By the time I turned 18, I’d been through so many birth control pills that I lost count and their ridiculously long names all blurred together. 

 

I was 9 when I started my period and 13 when I went on my first pill. My periods have always been miserable; I pass out, run a fever and throw up. My time of the month has never been an elegant scene.

 

So, at 19, I decided I needed something new: the pills were just not cutting it. My doctor kept suggesting an intrauterine device (IUD), but I wouldn’t even give it a thought; the idea terrified me. A foreign object all the way up there? I think not. 

 

I resorted to the birth control patch and prayed it would work so I didn’t have to think about the little plastic device with dangly metal strings. 

 

After about three months, my period was even worse and the side effects weren’t worth it. It was time for the big guns. 

 

***

 

The night before my insertion procedure, I sat in bed watching other girls on YouTube tell their IUD horror stories. They made pained expressions at the camera as they recalled the cramping, nausea and headaches. Most of them insisted it was the worst pain of their life. The next morning, my Mom drove me to my 8 a.m. appointment while I cried in the passenger seat.

 

***

 

I’m now a little over three months with my IUD, and my goal is to share my experience with the girls who will be Google-searching reviews the night before they get theirs, just like I did. 

 

Of course, you can find what the insertion procedure will be like anywhere on the internet. Instead, I’m here to share the top 5 things I think you should know before getting an IUD:

 

It will hurt...but only for a minute.

I’ll give you the bad news first: the rumors are true. It WILL hurt. When the doctor takes the measurement and inserts the actual IUD, they’re pushing through your cervix. This causes you to feel pretty crampy and, for me, even a little nauseous. The good news? The whole painful part of the ordeal only lasts about 15 seconds. You can do anything for 15 seconds!

 

Expect spotting for a few weeks.

Say goodbye to thongs for a little while. This part is more annoying than anything else. Your body thinks your IUD needs to be expelled from the uterus, so it works extra hard to try to do so. But don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere. For me, spotting lasted just a little over a month. 

 

Still take precautions!

Your IUD will be effective as early as one week after insertion. YAY! However, my doctor made sure to note that it takes a few months to reach peak, 99% effectiveness. Be sure to use a second method of birth control for the first few months. Better safe than sorry!

 

Take it easy for a few days.

When I came home, all I wanted to do was sleep (even more so than usual). Give your body some time to rest. While it’s not as serious as surgery, it's still a procedure, and you need time to recover. Aches and pains will come and go, so cuddle up with your heating pad and enjoy a few days lounging around. 

 

Don’t be discouraged in the first few months. 

Like I said, I’m just a little over three months into having my IUD. I had a really tough first month, with cramping nearly everyday. I was so frustrated that I asked my doctor if he thought we should take it out. He assured me that I just needed more time to adjust. Sure enough, this month has been so much better. I pretty much skipped my period, and my cramps aren’t nearly as bad. Many girls state that their periods eventually stop altogether. Wow, The Dream™.

 

Every girl is different. Maybe your pill is working just fine, and, hey, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it! But my hopefully sharing this eliminates some of the fears and taboos surrounding IUDs, and, if you do decide to give one a try, don’t spend hours on YouTube freaking yourself out. I promise it’s worth the pain.