Last week, I got my very first IUD, effectively joining the Adult Women With Long Term Non-Permanent Birth Control Club. I wanted to let you know how that whole thing went, in case you’ve ever considered getting one. Spoiler: It was both not as bad and also worse than I thought.
The not-as-bad part was the actual insertion. At my OB/GYN’s advice, I took 800 mg of ibuprofen before the actual appointment…and took two Xanax that she kindly prescribed me. My boyfriend and I don’t have a car, but we got a ZipCar, and he very patiently drove me, waited, and then drove me home. I chose not to have him in the room because, well, I know I’m a big baby and also he had some work to do.
First, they had me take a urine test, to ensure that I wasn’t already pregnant. And I passed! Which was a relief.
Because I’d already gone through a consultation, there wasn’t much to for the nurse and I talk about before the actual procedure–except that I saw the box they had out on the counter, and it was the hormonal IUD. Which is not the IUD I wanted, because hormonal birth control and I have not had a great relationship in the past. I asked the RN if she could kindly swap it out before the procedure because, well, it was wrong. She did. Close call.
For the insertion, my OB (who rocks. Seriously. Dr. Christina, you are wonderful) made sure to walk me through the whole thing. She inserted the speculum, felt around a little bit, and then got started. She also brought in a gentle-talking counselor/assistant lady to hold my hand and pat me softly on the head, which I appreciated.
My doctor numbed my cervix first, mercifully. I’ve heard of other places where they use the sound, which measures the cervix, to do the actual numbing, which sounds much more painful. Pro-tip: Ask your OB to apply the numbing gel before anything gets inserted.
The insertion itself hurt pretty awfully, but no worse than, say, getting a piercing. Of your cervix. So kind of a lot, but only for a second.
And the whole time, I was being flooded with encouraging Tweets**,which was wonderful and made me think everyone should always tell everyone they know that they’re getting an IUD, because the support was really, really nice.
Letting everyone know also really paid off when, for the next week, I would randomly double over in pain because the cramps were terrible. This is the part that was way worse than I thought.
I’ve had bad cramps before in my life, but never like those. They are still going on every now and then, but I’ve been on a steady diet of naproxen, which I’ve found works better that ibuprofen. The first two days were really rough, and I had to cancel a few things because it was so painful. I definitely recommend getting it done on a Thursday or Friday so you can have some recoup time.
Overall, the experience has been OK. The IUD, apparently, often gets your period started a little early, so going before it happens is probably a good idea, so it doesn’t totally throw your cycle off–though I have a feeling it will, anyway. It’s hard to say at this point.
But knowing that I don’t have to deal with birth control for a decade? That’s pretty unbelievably cool, and, as of this time, definitely seems worth a few weeks of belly aches. Especially considering how much money and time it’ll save me in the long run.
Mostly, though, what I learned is that it’s a good idea to tell people. Your friends and even family will (probably) understand more than you think (hopefully), and you’re going to want help and support and understanding when you’re groaning through a particularly bad bout of cramps.
**One Tweet I received was from the incredible Sarah Mirk, who writes for the Portland Mercury and also draws comics. She drew a comic about her experience getting an IUD that was really awesome to read right before the procedure. I highly recommend this comic.