Kelly the Culinarian: Why I Chose an IUD

Friday, May 31, 2013

Why I Chose an IUD

IUD cookies, anyone?
I'm not a doctor, nurse, medical professional or phlebotomist, even. My medical knowledge starts and ends with high school biology. These are just my opinions and experiences, for all they're worth. And if you're not into periods or birth control, now would be a good time to go somewhere else on the Internet (may I suggest pursuing my dessert recipes instead?). 

I debated whether to write this post, and I very well might still delete it. Kamila recently wrote about her experiences with the pill, and after a few comments back and forth, urged me to write about my experiences. So here goes nothing.

I've had an IUD for more than a year now. I get a ton of questions about it, so I wanted to get my thoughts together on this.

About IUDs

IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are long-term birth control devices that are placed in your uterus by a doctor. There are two major brands in the U.S., Mirena and ParaGard. Mirena contains hormones and lasts for five years, whereas ParaGard is a copper-based device that's good for 10 years.

In the U.S., IUDs get a bad rap because back in the '70s, they tested them on prostitutes who had horrible reactions because the profession puts women at higher risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause permanent infertility with and IUD. As a result, they fell out of favor for a long time - domestically. In other countries, there are dozens of different types of IUDs because they never had the controversy (learn more about the Dalkon Shield debacle).

Until recently, doctors only recommended IUDs for women who have already had at least one child and are in long-term relationships.

My decision

Kids are not part of our plan anytime soon. The pill has its benefits, but it also has a lot of drawbacks. For me, remembering to take the damn thing was difficult. It was nerve-racking when I traveled to keep on schedule and it's just another thing to remember to buy, carry and consume. I tried the patch for a while, which was not for me. The hormones seemed super intense and every side effect of the pill was amplified in the patch for me.

I found an IUD attractive because it was long term and reversible. Mirena also has the distinct advantage of reducing or, in my case, eliminating periods. Like ever. #winning

The IUD surgery

The process here started with calling my OB/GYN. She actually referred me to a nurse practitioner who saw me for a consultation to see if I would be a suitable candidate.

Because I don't have kiddos, the nurse told me to call the office as soon as I got my period next because my cervix would be slightly open. That night, I took a pill to exaggerate the effect as much as possible, then went in for my little procedure the next day.

I won't lie, it hurt. A shit ton.
This is why this shit hurts: A video
The procedure was over in probably five minutes, but it was so painful that it took my breath away. I broke into a cold sweat and my vision narrowed. I had to lay there for a few minutes to get my act back together before I dressed and went home. Doctor's orders for that night were to have a glass of wine and try and relax. I also wasn't allowed to test its effectiveness for a week or else my body might expel it, which would have made all that pain for nothing.
There it is.

The side effects

I had a period for about a month, on and off, as my body adjusted. I also had little contractions for two or three days, which scared me because they hurt a lot and I was afraid my body would push it out. If it did, I'd have to pay and go through all of that twice. No bueno.

For the first few weeks, I constantly worried it would fall out and I wouldn't notice. I eventually stopped thinking about it after I saw a picture of it on an Xray and realized I'm being paranoid.

The cost

I have insurance as well as a flexible spending account provided by our employer, so this cost me nothing out of pocket. If I didn't have insurance, it would have been $2,000. Insurance covered all but $500 and the FSA paid the rest. I hear that this is covered under ObamaCare, though. For comparison's sake, the pill cost me $28 for three months, or $560 for five years. So we're not talking about a big cost savings here.

Long term side effects

  • Not getting pregnant?
  • I don't get periods. I like this, but I'm sure some people find it freaky. As a result, I don't get PMS or cramps.
  • I can occasionally feel the thing. It's weird.

My final thoughts

I love my IUD and would get it again. It was painful and slightly expensive, but it's birth control that I don't have to think about and has less of a margin of error (eliminating user error). It was actually a relief to get this done because the idea of an unplanned pregnancy freaked me out. I am nowhere near ready for kids, and I feel like getting knocked up right now would send me into a flailing panic spiral because I've already screwed up in raising a dog, and he can't even talk. It's basically bought me five years to get my act together and plan, decide and budget for the next stage in life ... whatever that may be. Until then, I'm really happy with my little family.

Questions? Leave me a comment or e-mail me.


Anne said...

I appreciate you sharing this. I don't know anyone who has an IUD, but I've been considering it as well. I was on various versions of the pill for years, but the hormones were really messing with me. I finally got on a good low-dose pill last year, but they caused me to have migraines with aura. Once you have an aura, you're not supposed to take birth control, so IUD is pretty much my only option.

I had been thinking about it, but kids are in my plan in the next few years (I think I'm a little older than you, so there isn't quite as much time on my side there!), so that seems like a lot to go through just to have it removed relatively soon. I had no idea the procedure could be so painful! I'm glad to hear you think it's worth it though. I think it's a really good option if kids aren't in the plan for a while.

The Brit With A Blog said...

Dont they at least try and give u something for the pain? it must feel like shoving a screwdriver up there!! arrgghh

KellytheCulinarian said...

They told me I could take Advil. I hear some people get painkillers or muscle relaxers, but that seems a bit extreme. It was at least over quickly.

Maggie W said...

My best friend used the IUD and did not have a good experience with it, so I think she is off of it now. But, of course, every woman is different. I should write a post on "why we chose the pull out method" LOL. but my dad reads my blog.

Maggie W said...

Also, I was on the Nuva Ring for a few years, and I did like not having to remember to take a pill every day. I did have to set a reminder on my calendar every three weeks to take it out and then a week later to put it back in. The nice thing was, you could leave it in for four weeks and it was still effective, so sometimes you could "schedule" your period around certain events (vacations, etc).

KellytheCulinarian said...

Lol, Maggie, you crack me up.

Anonymous said...

I really love that you shared this. I'm on the NuvaRing but I think an IUD would be a better option. I've been going back and forth between the NuvaRing and the IUD for awhile now.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about switching from the NuvaRing to the IUD for awhile as kids are definitely NOT in the near future. Thanks for the post.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've actually considered getting an IUD but am scared of the pain at insertion. I am back on a pill now, but I previously had the Implanon which is hormonal birth control planted in your inner arm. It lasted for 3 years and I didn't have to worry about remembering to take a pill everyday but my periods were pretty wonky and unpredictable.