In my what seems like a never-ending quest for publishing my medical journey, let’s talk about IUDs—a thing that I now have in my own body. According to Planned Parenthood, an intrauterine device, or IUD, “is a tiny device that’s inserted in your uterus. It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there.” Essentially, IUDs take the forgetfulness out of the pill, get rid of the inconvenience of condoms and, arguably the most important, effectively stop the babies from growing inside your uterus.
I decided to get an IUD because it seemed to me that the pros heavily outweigh the cons. The way I saw it, the pros of getting an IUD were the aforementioned convenient baby-stopping and the cons were, well, the pain of the insertion.
We’ve all been there. Before getting my IUD, I heard nothing but absolute horror stories. I had heard of nightmarish tales consisting of uterus ripping, cramping for months, and blood, lots and lots of blood. I’ve always had quite a high pain tolerance, but when you hear of a pain being compared to a contraction, you’re gonna be scared.
I went to Student Health Services at Western University, just to see my options. I booked an appointment with the doctor that would perform the insertion. She sat me down and said: “What do you know about the IUD?”
Well, what did I know about the IUD? I knew it hurt. I knew that it lasted around five years. I knew there were two kinds. But what kind was right for me? Initially, I wanted a copper IUD (which is the cheaper of the two and just as effective). I didn’t necessarily like the idea of a hormonal IUD because most of my problems with the pill came from how it made me feel.
However, my doctor explained to me that with the copper IUD, I would get my period each month and probably cramp, really bad. But with the hormonal IUD, there wouldn’t be enough hormones to affect my brain, and that most of the hormones would stay inside my uterus. The only real cons she explained was the potential for spotting and acne. She walked me through a bit more of the procedure and explained that I would get a pap smear—yay! My first pap smear!
After a bit of convincing, I decided to go with the hormonal IUD. Kyleena was the IUD prescribed for me because it was covered under OHIP+ and was designed for young people. And so, I tentatively scheduled my appointment (since it’s better to be a couple days out from your period during the procedure).
I was scared as all hell for my IUD. A couple of days before my appointment, my friend was telling me the horror of having to get her cervix straightened out by a doctor. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! However, I’m glad I was scared before the insertion. Because now I can say that it hurt a lot less than I thought it was going to.
Before the procedure, I heard of people getting another prescription to help with the pain, and well, I was prescriptionless! I had no pain suppressant and quite frankly, I was freaking out. I went down to the doctor’s office a couple hours before just to double check that I didn’t miss some sort of prescription. It turns out that not everyone gets this magical prescription. The receptionist asked me if I was anxious, which I was. She explained to me that she had seen at least five girls come in before me to get IUDs, and that all of them walked out as if it was nothing. Ah, I love women supporting women. I guess, for me, it was just going to have to be Midol and Advil.
Around an hour later, I waited patiently to be called for my appointment. Around me, I could hear girls getting called in by twos and girls scheduling consultations for IUDs. IUDs seemed to be all the rage.
I was called in, met with the nurse and then eventually the doctor. And I must say, my doctor made me extremely comfortable. I mean, I guess it is her job to look at vaginas all day, so it must not be too weird for her. After getting my pap smear and making sure my cervix was oriented in the right direction (no straightening here!!), it began.
The doctor explained that it would feel like a series of three cramps, each progressively getting more painful. With the first cramp, I was told to cough. It was an easy cramp, nothing out of the regular. With the second cramp, I was told to cough again, and experienced a more intense pressure. With the third cramp, I was told to breathe, because it looked like I was going to pass the hell out. Of course, it felt like the absolute WORST cramp of my whole entire life—to the point where I went completely white and had to hold onto the wall beside me, I think a couple of “holy shit”s were also thrown into the mix.
After about ten seconds of pain, it was over. The doctor explained that I could sit in the room for as long as I needed and that I could have some orange juice (from concentrate!) so I wouldn’t faint when I stood up.
I thought that the rest of the day I would be extremely crampy, but I was just fine. Maybe it was the Midol, but I wasn’t in any pain the rest of the day. I had to work the next few days, and felt a little crampy while being on my feet, but besides that, I was feeling pretty good.
All in all, I would highly recommend the IUD. Like I mentioned, for me, the pros heavily outweigh the cons. As someone who is extremely forgetful with pills and hates the mental side effects of the birth control pill, the IUD became the beacon in a sea full of shitty hormones.
If you live in Canada, start planning your IUD insertion NOW! Our good ol’ pal and Premier of Ontario Doug Ford—notorious for things such as cutting OSAP grants and denying the progressive sex-ed curriculum—is cutting OHIP+ as of April 1st—which means, most likely, IUDs won’t be free for people under 25. This explains why IUDs have become all the rage!
Even if you’re reading this past April 1st, I still highly, highly recommend an IUD. Talk to your family doctor about the IUD and how much it might cost you. Without OHIP+, Kyleena would’ve cost me around $400, which would have significantly contributed to my list of cons.
So, people with uteruses! Stop, drop, roll, and get your IUD before April 1st.
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