I’ve been on birth control since I was about seventeen, with my method being the contraceptive pill. I really loved it, and was comfortable with it as it gave me a a 21 day cycle, and very light periods. However, as I got older, taking the pill started to get annoying, not because I had to take the pill daily (I’m used to taking daily medication), it was because of the cost. Since entering university, I was no longer covered by my parents health insurance, and the cost was getting a bit much (mind you I wasn’t paying too much for my birth control, it was my other medication that was making it expensive).
Seeing as I really need my other medication, I had to find a cheaper method of birth control. Another reason I wanted to find another form of birth control, was that it was getting taxing having to see my doctor every time I needed a refill. For all these reasons, I decided to check out the inter-uterine device method. I first heard about it from work, and then found out more from my friend who had one and was loving it.
Now with the inter-uterine device (IUD) there are two options to go with. The first is the hormone-free method, using copper as a natural way to prevent pregnancy. The copper model (ParaGard) is effective for 10-12 years. Though when I went to Hassle Free Clinic for more information, they told me that the copper and hormonal models both last five years.
Since it is totally natural, there is nothing to help control your period. I’ve only had light periods since being on the pill (Try-cylcen), and I’ve been on it for about five years. I really don’t remember what my cycle was like before going on the pill.
So, even though going all natural sounded great, I wanted the cycle protection that I would get from something with hormones. This is why I went with the Mirena model. This one can last for five years, and uses a small dose of progestin. You can also get the Skyla, which is a smaller model and is only effective for three years.
Even though the ParaGard is much cheaper than the hormonal ones, I decided to play it safe and went with the Mirena. With my student insurance, the Mirena was only $83 and is taxable.
In order to get the IUD, you will have to see a doctor (as you would with pretty much all health related questions). I made an appointment with Hassle Free Clinic because I trust them and am way more comfortable there than I am with my doctor. They gave me all the information I needed, and booked me for a pap test to make sure that I was able to get the IUD. It’s not having a woman that makes me more comfortable for a pap, it’s just having a doctor who is calming (which my family doctor isn’t). Anyways, I got the green light to get an IUD, and they sent my file over to the Bay Center for Birth Control.
It was pretty easy to make an appointment for the insertion. Make sure that you book it for a day when you will be on your period. This lets the doctor know that you aren’t pregnant, as well as helps make it a little easier to insert the IUD. Bring a book with you, because even if your appointment is at 11am, you can be waiting for a while, this depends on the traffic at the clinic. It was really busy when I went for my insertion, but empty (and faster) when I went for my check up.
Other than a book, make sure to wear something that is comfortable and not restricting on your pelvic/stomach area. I was wearing skinny jeans, biggest mistake ever. For pain they recommend that you take an Advil/Tylenol roughly thirty minutes before your appointment. I did, and it didn’t really help. Possibly because my appointment was delayed. I’ll be honest, having the IUD inserted really hurt. I was very nervous once I saw the sounding kit, because I thought for some stupid reason she would be sounding my urethra. I blame this thought on working at Seduction, where the only sounding kit we sell is for urethral play (not bashing anyone who’s into urethral play, but the thought was freaking me out). Anyways, it wasn’t for my urethra (obviously), it was to measure my cervix so that the doctor would know how far to go with the IUD insertion piece.
I’m being totally honest when I say it really hurt, like every pain imaginable in one local spot. It was worse than anything I’ve experienced from previous medical care. Before this I thought having my nerves tested on my deformed hand was the most painful medical experience of my life — wrong! The reason it hurt so much was because my cervix wasn’t open wide enough, this is pretty obvious for someone my age, who hasn’t had any children. If I had children, the experience would have been a lot easier, and my cervix would be more relaxed. Keep in mind what made it hurt so much wasn’t the sound or the insertion piece, it was the clamp that the doctor had to use to open my cervix up. Aside from that, everything was just uncomfortable poking. After probably the most painful seven minutes of my life, it was over and the demon birth stopping thing was in. I was relieved beyond all belief that it was done. Hopefully in five years when I go to have it replaced, there will be a way to make it much less painful. I’d like to note, that I am a total pain wimp, and my experience isn’t the average.
After everything was in place, and I was relaxed the doctor showed me how to feel to make sure the IUD was in place. Basically, you should be able to feel a wire/string in you cervix. If you feel a poke or tip, it is likely that your IUD has migrated and you should call your doctor ASAP! I started feeling for the strings everyday, and especially after sex, this became really frustrating when I couldn’t feel them (or anything for that matter). I realized that it had to do with my cycle, the farther I was from my period, the farther up the strings. The doctor suggested feeling for the strings after every period, and trust me, it is so much easier to find the strings at this time.
The recovery time was a bit long I would say. There was a lot of cramping for two days, and my period was pretty intense. You will have to wear pads instead of tampons or the diva cup. The reason being that the diva cup has too much suction, and can force your IUD to move out of place. The tampons might poke against the IUD, which is something you should try to avoid. Because there is a possibility that the IUD will reject/move in the first three months, make sure to use an alternative form of birth control. You will be booked for a check up six weeks after your insertion.
In terms of sex, my partner doesn’t feel anything. I sometimes feel a bit of poking on my cervix, but that’s something I’ve experienced even before having an IUD. With regards to periods, it is possible that you will stop having a period with the hormonal IUD. My first period with the IUD was a bit heavier than what I’m used to, though I’ve always had really light periods with the pill, so only time will tell what type of flow I will have with the Mirena.
Even with all the pain I experienced with the insertion and recovery, I am happy that I got the IUD. It’s both a stress and money saver.
Make sure to talk to your doctor about switching birth control methods. It’s important to find out the costs, advantages/disadvantages, effectiveness, and ease of the different birth control methods. This information is readily available on the internet. You should also check with your insurance company, to see what types of birth control you are covered for. Do what you are most comfortable with.
Following this piece, will be a quick information sheet about different forms of birth control. Stay tuned for that in the next few days!