Sharing birth control experiences helps people find which method works for them and eases panic by bringing awareness to potential side effects. So here’s my (unfinished) story of Paragard.
Also, just a warning that this post has to do with sex, and therefore, has sex jokes.
Insurance & History
In the past, I’ve used Mircette (made me yell at my dad during a family party), Lutera/Sronyx/generic Alesse (gave me monthly yeast infections around the time of bleeding, bad acne), and Vestura/generic Yaz (worsened my depression, lowered my libido in combination with fluoxetine (Prozac) 20mg). I’m not in a relationship, but after the 2016 USA Election, I decided I needed long-term, non-hormonal birth control that an outlast a donald presidency.
I went through the annoying process of asking my PCP, who referred me to a gyno, who ended up referring me to a clinic (in this case, it was Family Planning Associates, not Planned Parenthood). I heard it was better to have a personal gyno insert it, but I ended up going to a clinic instead. I could have gone to FPA or PP directly.
In March 2017, I got it inserted, and I won’t sugarcoat it. It fucking hurt. People say “it hurts like a really bad cramp”. Bull. Fucking. Shit. That was arguably one of the most painful things in my life. (Although, my cramps aren’t usually debilitating). People outside the room heard me screaming and cussing. But I’ll take you through a step by step to explain what happened.
For the record, I have a moderately high pain tolerance, and I was on the first day or so of my period during insertion. It’s supposedly easier to do insertion during menstruation.
So I go into a room and I gotta go commando so the NP-C can do her thing. She was super friendly, and apparently her husband pronounces libido as “LIB-uh-do” rather than “li-BEE-do”. I’m in the… stirrups(?) and my ass has to be all the way to the edge of the table, almost like I’m falling off.
The NP-C (hereby referred to as “she”) warned me of the feeling of a little pinch as she began to insert the rod through my cervix. It definitely felt like a pinch. The kind of pinch one receives on the arm from classmates in 2nd grade because putting someone in pain is cool. Except worse. And in this case, I’m ass naked. And bleeding (because period). It’s almost like sex in that the sensation is so strong that you gotta hold onto the bed you’re on (if you’re on a bed…). EXCEPT THIS ISN’T PLEASURE. But enough about pain. I’m probably causing a potential Paragard user panic.
But there’s a silver lining. If you hold still, the insertion will go by fast and won’t last any more than 5 minutes tops. It hurt when she used the sound and again when she inserted the IUD. I think the pain is due to dilation of the cervix.
Getting up was weird. I was dizzy and in shock. I think shock was due to my body reacting to manipulation of an internal organ. They gave me a pad and a bunch of condoms (IUDs do NOT protect against STDs, my comrades!) before sending me on my way. We also scheduled a follow up for a month after (no pain at all during that appointment). My dad drove me before and after, which was necessary.
Side Effects & How to Cope
My next three periods were very bloody and gave me bad cramps during the first two days of menstruation, but overall they lasted about a week. (I went to the ER for one period because I thought I was bleeding too much, and also I couldn’t find a nearby urgent care that took my insurance, but they found nothing so I guess I’m okay). Then, I experienced bleeding for about 3 months straight, but there were no cramps. Just light bleeding that required a pad 24/7. Finally, it stopped before my birthday, but then my next period caused me a lot of pain. I felt like I was going to explode in my belly. There were strong uterus cramps that made me whimper in fetal position and skip math class, but there was also some belly pain. Thankfully it did not require any serious attention. Just painkillers. And that was when I discovered painkillers + diuretics. My school provided “Cramp Tabs” that included Acetaminophen + Pamabrom, and the receptionist said they work wonders. I’m not sure if they actually worked well for me in that case, though.
FINALLY, this past period I had went super smooth. Little to no cramps, moderate bleeding (no need to change out a super absorption pad…), and no need for painkillers. Hopefully, the rest will be the same until I get it removed.
So, you’ve made it this far and decided the IUD is for you. Good choice, because despite all of this, I would do it again. And I’ll have to experience the pain again to get it out in 10 years. But you’re going to need some tools to survive the pain.
- Electric heating pad
- Disposable heating pads (find these at the dollar store)
- Painkiller + diuretic (my choice of drug is ibuprofen)
- The will to live (the pain of cramps is nowhere near the pain of heartbreak, failure, and mortality, but it’s still important to have this regardless)
- Tea (my mom says I have to drink this because she doesn’t want me using painkillers)
- A name for your IUD (I named mine Cooper T because it’s a copper T)
And with that, I would like to share a piece of art that is mostly traced but still original in its own right.