by Jessica Gregory
This gets a tiny bit graphic – just a warning. Also, ido your own research and talk to your healthcare providers before choosing a method of birth control. Everyone’s body is different so my experience may be exactly the same as OR nothing like yours.
This past winter break, I decided to stop taking the birth control pill and switch to an IUD. I made this decision for several reasons involving my mental and physical heath, but I won’t go into that here.
What I do want to tell you is how my first month of having an IUD was like, from the process to this evening. I just wanted to give those of you who are considering an IUD a small glimpse.
First, if you don’t know what an IUD is, look here for a good explanation. In short, it’s a ‘T’ shaped device inserted into the uterus that provides effective birth control and regulates (or gets rid of!) your period. I got the hormone version, while others may consider the copper version.
On January 13th, I got the IUD inserted. If you have ever had a Pap Smear, then you know what it feels like. They insert a (cooold!) instrument into your vagina to open it, then open your cervix, and then insert the IUD. They will tell you that opening your cervix may cause some cramping – prepare yourself. Others may not feel it as much, but I found it to be very uncomfortable.
After the IUD was inserted, I felt even more crampy. It was not just the annoying kind, but the painful kind that has you hunched over with gritted teeth. Side note: there are super thin strings that are attached to the IUD and come out of your cervix. Until they “curled up behind my cervix” as I was told, they poked me. Not fun.
For the next two weeks I proceeded to have constant cramps and constant spotting, meaning I needed to wear a panty-liner at all times. I hadn’t gotten any spotting with the pill so I had no idea what it would be like.
Then I got my period around the usual time, but instead of being extremely short (as per the pill), it was very long – almost twelve days – with heavy spotting after that for another week.
I noticed something however. The debilitating cramps that usually came with my period were all but gone. Barely a thing! And the cramps from my IUD insertion were gone too.
Just when I thought it hurt too much and I needed to get it taken back out, the spotting,
cramping, and poking from the string stopped. Now I can’t feel anything, and the period I was supposed to get around this time hasn’t come. Now, since my doctor told me to expect anything for up to three months (cramps, spotting, weird periods, etc) this reprieve may be the calm before the storm, but I have a feeling I’ve entered into the “omg this is so amazing” stage of the IUD, and I’m happy to be here.
So to reiterate what I said at the beginning of this post, do your own research and talk to your healthcare providers before choosing a method of birth control. Everyone’s body is different so my experience may be exactly the same as OR nothing like yours.
Adding up everything that’s happened in the past month, I’d certainly recommend the IUD, but warn against the potential pain that could occur in the first couple months. Do it, if you can, when you don’t have a bunch of commitments that involve physical labor and have some time for self care.
Jessica Gregory is a junior at Barnard and Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Nine Ways of Knowing.