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After years and years of being on birth control pills, I decided I needed a switch. I had been dreaming of a birth control method that wasn’t a part of my daily life for the longest and I honestly was having some trouble remembering to take the pill at the same time every day, so I knew I needed to change methods ASAP.
*Choosing your method of birth control is a highly personal decision that should be done by YOU and your healthcare provider.*
After doing my own research and consulting with an educator (more on that later) I settled on getting the non-hormonal copper IUD!
I came to this decision pretty easy, tbh. I knew that I wanted OFF of the pill, I knew I couldn’t handle the arm implant method, I didn’t want to have to deal with remembering to change a patch or a ring, so naturally the only effective method of birth control left was an IUD.
The only thing that was holding me back was all the horror stories of the insertion process and side effects, but I figured no pain no gain and ANYTHING was betting than getting pregnant #realtalk.
WTF is an IUD??
An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a tiny, flexible, t-shaped device that’s inserted into your uterine via your cervix by a gynecologist.
Depending on the type of IUD you get, you’ll be protected from pregnancy for three to twelve YEARS!!
There are two types of IUDs: non-hormonal/copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. I chose to go with the copper IUD that doesn’t have any hormones. I felt like after being on hormonal birth control pills for years that maybe a little break from the hormones might be good for my body. Plus, the copper IUD prevents pregnancy for up to twelve years!!
Side note: I am irrationally paranoid about my fertility and that paranoia (which is totally unsubstantiated by science) also played a role in deciding to choose the non-hormonal option.
The cool thing about an IUD is once it’s in there, it’s in there. There’s no monthly trips to the pharmacy, nothing to continuously pay for, no remembering to take or change it! For twelve years!!
Speaking of the cost, I have medical insurance which resulted in the cost going from $1300 down to $125. I’m not too stoked about that $125 coming out of my pocket, BUT that’s literally the cost of five months of my birth control pills and I’ll never have to pay for birth control pills again so it’s still a win for me.
For a lot of insurances, IUDs are totally free! If you don’t have insurance, check out what Planned Parenthood can do for you (they do free and sliding scales on prices for those who need it)!
The not-cool thing about IUDs is the “scary” insertion process and the initial, short-term side effects. The insertion process is scary (until you’ve done it) and mildly painful depending on your pain tolerance (they’re literally shoving a piece of plastic or metal into a hole that’s 2.5 CENTIMETERS in diameter). The side effects for the copper IUD are heavy periods and heavy cramps for the first three months.
I’ll talk more on both of those things later!
If you want any more legit information on IUDs check on planned parenthood’s website.
Making the Appointment
Once I knew that I for sure wanted to get an IUD, I did a quick google search of all the places in my city that provided them.
I literally just googled “low cost IUDs in…”
I came across a women’s clinic that was a part of a major university’s healthcare system, so I knew they were reputable and I decided to give them a call.
As much as I hate talking on the phone, I knew I needed to call the clinic in order to get all the information I needed. I was lowkey scared of going somewhere, getting the IUD, and then getting a fat ass bill from my insurance company a month later.
That’s why when I called, the question of whether or not they took my insurance was the first question I asked.
The list of things I talked to the receptionist looked like this:
- I made sure they took my insurance
- Questions I had about the procedure
After confirming they took my insurance, I went ahead and made the appointment.
They suggested I made the appointment at a time that would allow me to go home and rest after the procedure, because everyone reacts differently in regards to pain, bleeding, etc.
The Actual Appointment
So, the day finally came.
They told me to take some ibuprofen before my appointment, but I forgot.
What I did do was go the ~au natural~ route and smoked beforehand.
Once I got there, I signed in and was taken back to talk to an educator.
Even though I already knew that I wanted an IUD, we discussed all the different types of birth control and which one I wanted.
I honestly went into the appointment wanting to go with the hormonal IUD, but after talking with the educator I decided on the non-hormonal copper IUD instead after the educator explained that with the hormonal IUDs, the hormones basically just live concentrated in your uterus (and that made me worried about the impact that could have on my fertility even tho there’s no evidence to support those worries ).
Then we just went over the insertion process and what to expect after, which is what we’re talking about next.
Before being taken back to the procedure room, they had me take a urine pregnancy test. Once that came back negative (🙌🏾) I was good to go for the insertion!
Once in the procedure room, the nurse had me undress from the waist down and sit on the table. She went through my medical history, gave me 800mg of ibuprofen and then went to get the doctor.
At this point I was lowkey nervous, but the clinic I went to actually provided two stress balls for you to use while you wait.
The doctor finally came in and she gave me a rundown of what to expect after the insertion. With the copper IUD, the two most common side effects are heavier bleeding during your periods and more painful cramps for the first three months after getting the IUD. These side effects should subside with time, though!
Disclaimer: I used to suffer from pretty atrocious periods growing up, so I am used to some pretty extreme cramps and side effects so my pain tolerance for all things vagina and uterus related may be higher than average.
First, the doctor did a finger exam to get a feel for how my cervix was positioned.
Then she used those fucking spreaders 😩. I hate those things bc I swear I have a small set vagina and they always make me feel uncomfortable with their bulky edges. Once she had me spread wide open, she used a swab to spread around some type of disinfectant into my vagina/onto my cervix. None of this really hurt, it was just a little weird like you’d expect.
Once the doctor finished with the disinfectant, it was time for her to place a clamp onto my cervix to hold it in place. This sounds worse than it is, but it did cause me to cramp for one to two seconds.
Then she inserted what is basically just a straw into my uterus. The straw is used to slide the IUD into the cervix. This part led to some more cramping and they lasted like four to five seconds this time. Once the straw was inserted my doctor then asked me to cough.
Then it was time for the actual IUD to be put in 🙈. This was definitely the worst part, but it was NO WHERE NEAR as bad as the horror stories I had read online. Like, after going through the process myself I’m convinced some of those stories of extreme pain and passing out are actually just propaganda trying to dissuade women from taking control of their reproductive rights #staywoke. Jk… kinda.
Anyways, once she slid the IUD through the straw and through my cervix into my uterus I had some intense cramping that lasted much longer this time, around ten to twenty seconds. It did get a small “ow” out of me, but even while in pain I was thinking how I’ve had period cramps worse than this lol.
Once the cramps subsided I could lowkey feel the IUD in my uterus (idk if that was real or just in my head lol). The doc then trimmed the strings, which I didn’t really feel since I was still coming down from the cramps, and then she used a q-tip to brush the strings out. Then she just retrieved her tools that were still inside my vagina and gave me a pad to put on since the disinfectant is a copper colored liquid and some people experience bleeding (I didn’t).
I drove myself home and only started to feel light cramps ten minutes later.
For the rest of the day, I felt light, but constant cramping. It was more annoying and uncomfortable than painful, tbh. I also had a little bit of brown and pink discharge and a panty liner was enough to keep me covered.
It wasn’t until I went to bed that I started to feel more painful cramps. Nothing out of control though, I just took some more ibuprofen and busted out the heating pad and I fell asleep fine.
Since then, I’ve had two periods. I haven’t experienced the monstrous cramps they warned of, but the heavy bleeding? Yeah, that’s an understatement. SO. MUCH. BLOOD.
But, I’m cool with that being the only side effect that I have right now 🤷🏽♀️.
Overall, the whole thing wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was pretty scared going in after reading other women’s experiences on the internet, but I was very pleasantly surprised with my own personal experience!
I would definitely recommend getting an IUD to anyone who has an IUD and doesn’t want to get pregnant anytime soon.