I was lying on my back in the waiting room, feet propped up on a chair, the ceiling spinning above me — all thanks to my IUD. I had just fainted after getting it inserted. It's one of those stories you read online that make you wonder why anyone would get an IUD (an intrauterine device, a long-lasting form of birth control) when non-invasive options are out there. But I’m here to tell you: It was worth it.
Too many women get bad information online about IUDs and are deterred by what they find. (Don’t rely on Google! Go to reputable sources like Planned Parenthood and Bedsider.) People have a wide range of experiences getting an IUD inserted, and although mine was on the more painful side, I’m still happy I did it.
It was almost three years ago that I was at the gynecologist’s office to get my IUD placed. As I was lying on my back in the exam room, feet in stirrups, I tried to relax. Getting an IUD definitely confirmed that I have a low threshold for pain. I also learned that I have a small uterus. Who knew! The discomfort began when my doctor had to measure my uterus twice to be sure she could insert the IUD properly.
The next step was the insertion of the IUD itself. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried as I experienced deep, sharp pain during the procedure. It was over quickly, but boy did it hurt. The doctor and her assistant were nothing but supportive, checking that I was okay and assuring me the procedure would be over quickly, which it was.
I felt good about my decision. I would need to head home and rest for a while, but it was a relief to know I wouldn’t have to worry about replacing my birth control for another five years.
But as I left the doctor’s office, I began feeling lightheaded. I turned a corner to approach the elevators and blackness started creeping into the corners of my vision. I realized I wasn’t going to make it out of the building standing up. My vision was almost gone as I stepped back through the doctor’s office door and ungracefully laid down on the carpet.
I had experienced a vasovagal reaction, and after several minutes on the waiting room floor, was led to an empty exam room to nap before heading home. Cramps came and went for the rest of the weekend, but 24 hours after getting my IUD, I felt well enough to go to the beach with friends.
Although I’m not looking forward to the procedure to get my IUD replaced, there’s a few key reasons I love my IUD:
There’s nothing to remember!
I was on different forms of the pill for five years, but it was never a good option for me. As a teen, I always knew that when I became sexually active I would need to get on the pill, and I did. I don’t think it even crossed my mind that there were other birth control options besides condoms. Recent studies have shown that doctors often don’t, but should offer IUDs to teen patients.
Despite a phone alarm to remind me, and no interest in becoming pregnant, I struggled to remember to take the pill every day. In my early twenties, I decided enough was enough. After a short time using the vaginal ring, I opted for the longer-lasting IUD. I figured it was worth the up-front cost (this was before the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, made birth control available without a co-pay) to have a worry-free form of birth control.
No more period!
That’s right: like many people who get the hormonal Mirena IUD, I no longer have a period, just occasional spotting. That’s valuable time and money saved over the years!
I can get it replaced in five years — or not!
IUDs are incredibly effective, but they’re also completely reversible. If I decide to get pregnant, I can simply get my IUD removed. Or, I can keep replacing it every five years with little risk of an unplanned pregnancy.
I’m a proud member of #TeamIUD. Everyone deserves access to the birth control that’s right for them — I wish I had been more empowered as a teen to know all the options out there.