After Insertion: The First Few Days

It’s been four days since I had a copper IUD inserted, and so far so good. I know that I am getting extremely lucky in terms of pain and other side effects.

The first day, I felt like there was absolutely nothing new besides some very low-level cramping. By the end of the second day, I was aware of abdominal discomfort and discharge (ew!).

The discomfort seemed to be caused more by a feeling of constipation and gassiness along with a rather sore uterus. My cursory internet search brought me to the explanation that since my uterus was probably swollen after the procedure, it was probably pushing on my colon, causing some discomfort and blockage. This, in turn, caused it to press against my already sore uterus, making my abdominal muscles tense up further. Made sense to me.

Once I ate raisins and citrus fruit, though, the issue, ahem, cleared itself up. I still have a lingering gassiness.

As for the discharge, it is brown-ish and mucous-y. Seems to be par for the course given what I’ve read. It can last for varying lengths of time in different women. I’m hoping it will clear up soon because I am sick of wearing pads.

Speaking of pads, I should be starting my period soon, and this morning I woke up with terrible cramps. I had to force myself out of bed to take a painkiller and even still it hurt. I have never felt cramps this bad, but they are still somewhat bearable. They are only sporadic, so it’s manageable, but the pain in each moment is INTENSE. It’s a sharp, stabbing pain that makes me stop in my tracks and hunch a little. This, I suppose, I have to get used to. No IUD is without side effects, and this is the major downside to the Paragard. I will get through this with my strong disposition and my bottle of Pamprin in hand.

Other than this, there hasn’t been much of an issue. I’ve felt for my strings several times, which is simple and reassuring. I’m looking forward to some of these symptoms easing so that I will feel comfortable involving my boyfriend in the process somewhat, but right now, this is an issue for me alone.

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IUD Insertion: My Experience

Disclaimer: This is a personal recounting of my experience of having an IUD inserted. This is in no way representative of the general population.

This morning, after months of planning and deliberating, I had a Paragard (copper) IUD inserted.

A few facts you should know about me:

  • I’m nineteen years old
  • I’m nulliparous (have never had children/been pregnant)
  • I had a previously poor experience with hormonal birth control pills
  • I have a history of low-level depression/anxiety
  • I am in a committed, monogamous relationship
  • I have good health insurance through my university
  • I have a history of fainting during relatively routine, painless medical procedures (getting my blood drawn, glaucoma checks in eye exams)

If you’ve done any research into IUDs, you will know that many of the seemingly mundane facts I listed above can play a great role in your decision to get an IUD. Some factors affected my general decision to get one and others affected my choice between the Mirena/Skyla (hormonal) and the Paragard (copper) IUD. My personal weighing of the pros and cons of each will be saved for another post.

Because I am nulliparous, I anticipated the insertion process to be extraordinarily painful. I have never had a pap smear due to my age, and I was becoming so fed up with my doctor describing the process as being “no more painful than a pap smear” that I turned to the internet for answers. I was unprepared for the horror stories that some women shared. From my rather in-depth research on the subject (via nearly ever blog/chatroom/article I could find), I finally realized that each woman’s experience with the insertion process was different. The pain descriptors ranged from “just a slight pinch” to “worse than my unmedicated labor pains.” Naturally, I was nervous for my own insertion.

At the end of my consultation, my gynecologist instructed me to take 800mg of ibuprofen (i.e. Advil, Motrin) the night before my procedure and another 800mg in the morning with a substantial breakfast. She also asked me to try to schedule the insertion appointment to coincide with my menstrual period because that is the point at which the cervix is already slightly open. I have highly irregular periods, so it was something of a shot in the dark. Unfortunately, I have pretty bad aim, and I didn’t get the slight benefit of my period mitigating the pain.

Last night I was horribly anxious. Suddenly I couldn’t remember what dosage and which type of NSAID my doctor had suggested. Was it aspirin? Acetaminophen? Would Aleve do the trick? In the end, I let Google guide me in the right direction, and thankfully she did not lead me astray. I only had 7 Advil pills (200mg each) left, so I took 600mg last night and 800mg this morning. After a restless night, the last thing I wanted to do was wake up at 8am to drive myself to this appointment.

I arrived at the office, the nurse took my weight and blood pressure, asked me which IUD I had decided on, and instructed me to bring her a urine sample (I learned later this was for a pregnancy test — can’t be too careful!). After that, the nurse left me to undress from the waist down and cover my lower body with a large paper sheet. Soon the gynecologist arrived and spoke with me about the process, asking me about the factors that led me to choose the Paragard.

Once she had confirmed my reasoning seemed sound, she began the process, talking me through each step. I was beyond nervous; my hands were shaking and I had tears in my eyes. The nurse – an older lady with a great sense of humor and a comforting smile – held my hand for the entirety of the procedure. Do NOT underestimate how much this simple gesture can affect your experience; ask for a nurse or bring a loved one to be there with you.

Slightly more graphic details about the specifics of the process are below the line.

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About Me

I am a 19-year-old college student and strong proponent of women’s sexual health.

After over a year using various hormonal methods of birth control, I made the decision to have an IUD inserted. I made the personal decision to choose the Paragard (copper) IUD, which is non-hormonal and provides 10-12 years of continuous birth control. That being said, I believe that there are pros and cons for each type of IUD and my decision should not be taken as advice for anyone else. It is up to each person to understand the benefits and risks of these devices and choose for oneself.

I will attempt to aggregate as much relevant information as I can in order to make this process as well-informed and fearless as possible.

My personal experience (like all personal experiences) should not be taken as applicable to everyone. There are many factors which can affect your experience of the process, and while I know that horror stories are easy to come by, remember that no two experiences are identical and that the most vocal groups within any topic are those strongly for and strongly against it.

I will be chronicling my experience in the hopes that others can find a sense of confidence and satisfaction as they make their decision regarding the IUD and other forms of birth control.

About This Blog

Today I had an intra-uterine device (IUD) inserted for the first time.

In the months and weeks leading up to this decision, I was confused and conflicted because of the myriad of chaotic, incomplete, and anecdotal information about the process that is scattered across the internet. While a personal blog is, by definition, anecdotal, I want to provide a well-researched, regularly updated, and (hopefully) well-rounded resource for anyone weighing the pros and cons of all forms of birth control and, in particular, the IUD.

This site will be one part personal experience, one part general information. Facts will be cited, details will be given, and, in the end, I hope this will be a valuable resource for anyone contemplating this decision.