The Real IUD: A Personal Account

Women are saying no maybe baby with the many choices of birth control products available, but the IUD in particular has seen a significant increase in popularity and usage.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1970 the average age of a first time mother was 21.4. In 2011, it was 27.5. More and more young women are putting off motherhood to travel, pursue careers, and earn doctorates. For many of these women, IUDs seem to be the ideal form of birth control.

There are a lot of misconceptions about IUDs. Many think intrauterine devices are only for older women who don’t plan on having more children, as a replacement of getting their tubes tied.

I have been using oral contraceptives for six years, and during that period three different gynecologists failed to mention an IUD.  When my friend suggested I get an IUD, I did my research and considering myself a modern woman, I decided to take the plunge.

Before the procedure I met with the clinic’s director. I had the choice of a 5-year device called Mirena, or a 10-year device called ParaGard.  Mirena has a small amount of progesterone, which may cause women to have lighter, less painful periods. ParaGard has no hormones. I opted for the Mirena.

If you are disgusted by a women talking in detail about her uterus, (in the least sexy way imaginable) I suggest you stop reading now and crawl back into your mother’s.

The entire procedure took about three minutes, most of which comprised of the doctor changing her gloves. I stripped down to my socks and then hoisted my feet up into the doctor’s surprisingly fluffy stirrups.

The doctor told me relax and spread my legs. Like most women, when it’s a doctor between them I tense up making the examination much for uncomfortable than it has to be.

The doctor then inserted her fingers into my vagina in order to locate my cervix. Once located, she inserted the speculum into my vagina. This speculum was plastic, disposable, and most importantly, not the ice cold, metal, duck-billed shaped kind like a regular check-up.

Using a special instrument the doctor then “grabbed on” to my uterus in order to measure it. I started to scream bloody murder, but the pain only lasted a couple of seconds. The doctor asked me if I wanted her to stop, but there was no way I was turning back now.

Once she had the measurement she quickly inserted the IUD which felt like the equivalent of a menstrual cramp. IUDs are about size of a quarter and bendable.

The doctor checked the position and then inserted a very large q-tip to stop the bleeding. I was still experiencing moderate discomfort, but I didn’t even realize I was bleeding until I sat up and nearly fainted at the sight of the blood.

Still, I made it home, took some painkillers, and spent the night with Downton Abbey and a bottle of wine. When I awoke in the morning, the spotting and cramps had stopped and I felt completely normal.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. I do not plan on having children in the next seven years, but if I change my mind, IUDs can easily be removed. Until then, I will not have to worry about taking a pill at the same time each day, I will not have to worry about getting pregnant, (besides that forever looming .01%)  and since the IUD was covered by my insurance I will save the $1260 I would have spent on birth control pills for the next seven years.

Three seconds of pain and 12 hours of discomfort is not much to sacrifice to the convenience of the IUD.  I like to think of it as temporary sterility—and for the millennial women, that can be very reassuring.

Have you jumped on the IUD bandwagon? Why or why not?

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