All of the IUD Questions You're Too Nervous to Ask

*Disclaimer: Everyone’s experience on an IUD is going to be different.* 

About six months ago, I made the decision to get a hormonal IUD birth control implant. A hormonal IUD is basically a small t-shaped piece of plastic with a metal thread attached. It is inserted into the uterus and releases the hormone progestin. The IUD brand that I chose is Skyla, which is the smallest hormonal IUD. It will last three years before I need to have it removed. 

I had been having painful, long periods since I was 11 and I needed some relief. I talked through my options with a gynecologist and she suggested trying a form of birth control. I had been thinking about going on birth control for awhile, but I will admit that I was nervous about it. I chose to get an IUD rather than going on the pill because I liked the fact that I would be able to have the IUD inserted and then not really have to think about it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to remember to take the pill every day and, the truth is, hormonal IUDs are 99% effective. This is more effective than both condoms and the pill.

Since having my IUD inserted, I’ve gotten a ton of questions from friends who are curious about my experience, but there have also been times that people have been too nervous to ask questions that seem too invasive. There are good, bad, and just plain ugly details about getting an IUD and I am always happy to share those with anyone who asks. Here are all of the questions you were too nervous to ask me about my IUD (and my very honest and sometimes gross answers):

1. Was the insertion painful?

There’s really no way to sugar-coat this…yes. This was especially true for me because I may have forgotten to take Advil before as my doctor suggested (listen when they tell you to do this, ladies). The actual insertion felt like one really long, terrible period cramp, but that was not the worst part. After it was inserted, I sat up and began to get nauseous and dizzy. That’s when the doctor told me that because the position of my uterus is tilted backwards, this was a common side effect and she was actually surprised I didn’t pass out. After that passed, the real pain began. I had to wait about a half hour until I was even able to stand up. It felt like I had a cramp running from my stomach all the way down my legs. I had someone to drive me home (thank god), but every bump in the road felt like someone was punching me. When I got back to campus, I laid down in bed and basically didn’t move for the next few hours. Two days later, this had dulled considerably and just felt like normal period cramps. After about a week, I was no longer cramping at all and I was able to look back on the pain as a distant memory. 

2. Was the pain worth it?

Yes, 100%. I’m at the point where this is no pain and I am really reaping the rewards of getting having an IUD. I would do it over again if I had to (but I might take Advil next time).

3. Did you bleed a lot afterwards?

I bled lightly for about two weeks. Nothing that a thin panty-liner couldn’t handle. Something to be aware of, though, is that when they insert the IUD they also insert a brown iodine solution. This ends up being expelled from your body within the first 3 days after insertion. So, you basically have a gross, brown goop coming out of you for a few days. It stains underwear so just make sure you wear a pad or panty-liner.

4. What happened to your period?

The first month after getting the IUD, I got my period for 10 days, but it was more like spotting than an actual period. My cramps were also significantly better. This was seriously a blessing because I was accustomed to bleeding heavily for 8-10 days with excruciating cramps. At this point, I rarely get my period, and if I do, it’s just a few days of spotting. I save a lot of money on tampons!

5. Can you feel it?

No, the only time I feel it is when I check to make sure the thread is still wrapped around my cervix. I do this about once a month. This is important because if you can’t feel the thread or if you can feel the plastic of the IUD, it usually means something is wrong. Neither you nor your sexual partner should be able to feel the IUD.

6. What negative side effects have you had?

Not many. I’ve had a bit more acne since getting the IUD, but nothing too horrible. I also find that I bloat a lot easier. I haven’t gained any weight which was something I was worried about before I got it. The positives really outweigh the negatives.

7. Are you able to use tampons?

Yes. Since the IUD is in my uterus and not vagina, I can still use tampons with no problem.

8. Did it cost a lot?

After insurance, I paid $11 for my IUD. Most insurance companies will cover birth control almost fully which is amazing. I checked with my insurance company before I got the procedure done to make sure it would be covered. I would not have been able to afford it otherwise.

9. Are you worried that you won’t be able to get pregnant after the IUD is removed?

No, once the IUD is removed I could get pregnant after about a month. Unless something goes wrong with the IUD, which it hasn’t for me, there is no chance of infertility. If at any point I decide to have the IUD removed before the 3 years is over, I can. However, having kids is not something I can imagine happening any time in the foreseeable future so I am very happy that I get to keep my IUD for 2 and half more years.

IUDs are not for everyone. I have had a very good experience with mine, but there are some people who prefer other forms of birth control. The most important thing is that your birth control makes you feel happy, healthy, and safe!