Part of the 99% …

… of women who will not get pregnant thanks to reliable birth control.

Alternate title: Why I chose to get an IUD

Consider this your warning to stop reading if you don’t want to know about the current state of my uterus, or my history of birth control.

I was going to do one long post about why I chose the IUD, and about getting it in. But it got long, so I’m splitting it up (because it’s such a riveting read!) Also, at this point it’s only been in 16 hours, so I want to give my body more time to get acquainted.

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So, Part 1 – The Why. I mean, as if that picture isn’t worth 1,000 words.

I was on hormonal birth control for much of my 20s. Started with the pill, tried a couple different options, switched to the Nuva Ring. But I felt … off. Not like myself. I had no sex drive (the pill is even more effective when you’re not having sex!) but I also didn’t have my usual lows … or highs. My moods were just … flat.

Eventually, I took out my Nuva Ring as planned for that cycle … and didn’t put one back in. Yeah, I know, you’re supposed to talk to your doctor about such things. But I didn’t. And just like that, I was off of birth control for … roughly 5 years. My sex drive came back. My moods came back. I felt like me again.

During that time, I followed the Fertility Awareness Method, thanks to Fertility Friend. Many women use that site to try to get pregnant; I used it to avoid it. And it worked. (Well, to be frank, we also used that in conjunction with pulling out, and adding spermicide when I might be fertile.) Knock on wood, I’ve never had a legitimate pregnancy scare. (Yes, it occurs to me that one of us might not be that fertile. But maybe we’re just that good.)

However, the older I got, the more scared I got by the possibility of getting pregnant. What if our luck ran out? No method is perfect, especially ones that have a lot of room for human error. I used to have the mindset “well, we’ll try to not get pregnant, but if we do, we do.”

But now, I look at our life and don’t want to change a thing. (OK, I’d like less debt and a bigger living room.) The thought of Baby Makes Three in our life? No, thank you. We’re good. Maybe we’ll feel differently when we have less debt and an apartment/condo/house that has room for another person. Or maybe not. Or maybe my boyfriend will move in. Or maybe we’ll adopt and/or foster. Or maybe we’ll just get another cat and travel a lot for a start.

As you may have heard, the IUD made a comeback in the States. It’s much improved over the old version from our mother’s generation, and what is available now is much safer. Kelly had a good experience with it, and the more I read up about it, the more it sounded like a good option, and has much less of a chance of error than what I had been doing. And I learned that there’s even a non-hormonal option with the IUD! That’s what really started to sell me on it. Then I heard that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it’s often covered 100%. Thanks, Obama! (There are still loopholes, so check with your provider.)

Upon further exploration, I decided to give the hormonal option a try. For one thing, the hormones are different (no estrogen), and local (although so was the ring), so there is a chance they won’t have the same effect on my moods. Additionally, on the hormonal IUD, there is a chance my period will go away or get lighter. (After 20 years, kind of over this whole bleeding-every-month-thing, amirite??) With the copper (non-hormonal) IUD, there is the chance my periods will get heavier and crampier. Ummm, no thanks. So I’m trying hormones again and opted for the Mirena.

Like any good Millennial, in addition to talking to my doctor about the IUD, I did some Googling. And of course … there are horror stories. I realize for most of them (pregnancy, expulsion, perforation), they are rare. But there were so many cases of women who were in terrible pain during insertion, or who vomited or fainted afterward. I’ll admit that it scared me. I’m a fainter. So I put off getting the IUD for three months so I could gather up my courage. This article helped. Yes, there are a few horror stories, but a large majority of women who choose the IUD are happy with it. Usage rates among female gynos are high, if that tells you anything.

So that’s what led me to choose the IUD. Come back in a day or so and read all about getting it in. (Spoiler alert: Apparently, I have a really great cervix for this type of thing … )

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25 Comments on “Part of the 99% …”

  1. I’ve been thinking about getting Mirena for months now. I’ve been putting it off with the excuse of just waiting for my next regular doc appointment, but really it’s the horror stories that freak me out. I think it’s time to just get over it and get it done though!

    1. My next post will detail the process of getting in it, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t excruciating at all. Like a really bad menstrual cramp for a few seconds, and then gone. Now, my doc also said I’m a good candidate for it, so every woman is different. Definitely talk to your doc. And get it done when you’re on your period, and take lots of advil beforehand.

  2. Last week when I pinched a nerve, I googled causes of pinched nerves and one of them is cancer. So of course let my mind wander to the worst case scenario for a minute or two, before I reeled my mind back to reality. Why does my mind always want to go to the worst case scenario, rather than the by far more likely scenario? Anyway, I’m sure you found a good doctor and realized that 99.9% of the time things go well. Anyway, if your boyfriend moves in and you have a baby, you would not only have someone else to split the rent with, but you would have an extra babysitter! 🙂

  3. I’ve read about this too after a friend of mine told me she had one and loved it, and after reading Kelly’s post. I haven’t been taking BCP for a long time (only 2 years) so that’s good at least but my period is irregular, I have major PMS mood swings (poor Derek), so would like something that might stop all of that. Interesting that it’s free on Obamacare. I didn’t know that. What are the loopholes? I’ll have to talk to my doctor about it when I have my appointment this year. I do want to get pregnant at some point (hopefully) but it won’t be for at least another 2 years I’m sure. Then I’ll be an old woman but whatever.

    1. I think the loopholes are if it’s a religious organization? The last company I worked for was Catholic, and even before Obamacare, they didn’t pay for my BC, I had to pay the sticker cost out of pocket. And I was on the Nuva Ring which had no generic alternative and was pretty expensive.

  4. I was on the pill for a bit but it just didn’t work for me. Then my boyfriend at the time and I used many of the same methods you did and we never had an issue. I decided to get Mirena about 2 years ago now and it’s been nothing but amazing. My periods have gotten so much lighter and quite infrequent, sometimes I still get the back cramping and bloat but my moods are so much more stabilized it’s great. Once it was in for a month or two we stopped using other methods and the Mirena really proved itself! I love Mirena, every woman should get one if they want it. I don’t have to worry about anything right now since I’m single and going on bad dates but it’s great having my Mirena with me at all times. 🙂 I’m definitely getting a new one inserted when this one expires.

  5. I just got an IUD in December. Insertion was somewhat painful for me, the cramps were bad and I thought I was going to pass out but I don’t think that’s normal. My doctor recommended taking aspirin an hour or two before my appointment, but I only had tylenol, which is clearly not as effective there. I also tend to cramp more during exams than a lot of women probably do, so I think a lot of that is me. I was reading that you can get local anesthetic injected to make the process easier, which I’m totally going to do when this thing expires in 2019.

    Overall, I really like it. Sure, I’m happy knowing that there’s not going to be any babies anytime soon, but all of the health effects are really great. Like you, I had some pretty bad side effects from birth control, including horrible mood swings and migraines with aura (which are so freaky), so I went off of it for a long time. I don’t feel any different with the IUD than I did off of birth control. I barely had a period last month, and this month there has been nothing, which is AWESOME. My mom’s periods got to be pretty horrible as she got older, so I’m planning to keep an IUD until menopause so that I can avoid that (which my doctor says is another reason to have an IUD).

    1. Interesting. Everything I read suggested taking ibuprofen beforehand, although when I called to make the appointment, the receptionist didn’t mention that, and I had to ask her about it. I also asked about a local anesthetic, but the receptionist didn’t know anything about that and the doc didn’t offer.

      1. Yeah, I got the impression that not all docs offer it. So I hope I can find one who does the next time around! At the very least I’ll try taking advil as recommended, since Tylenol is useless there.

  6. I’ve had a Paragard for almost a year now, I had it inserted when Tora was four months old (had her by c-section). I worried a lot and read lots of horror stories. The nurse even tried to talk me into the Mirena, but I’m not interested in any hormones at all. The insertion was no big deal, but I took 800mg of ibuprofen an hour before the appointment. I’ve had no problems with it, but I’m still waiting for AF to come back!

    I think the IUD makes sense for a lot of women, and I did get mine paid for 100%. :). Hope you continue to like it! It’s so easy it feels like cheating.

  7. I really appreciate this. I was researching BC methods a few weeks ago before I had my annual physical, and I found it so wildly frustrating how everything on the Internet was either 1) super clinical and just-the-facts or 2) an OMGHORROR story about how method x would ruin your body/sex drive/fertility/life in general. I mean, I guess that’s kind of par for the course — people don’t usually feel compelled to write enormous posts on blogs or in forums when things are very non-newsworthy, whereas they SURE appear to when things go terribly — but man, all I wanted was a real person to give me a sane and human perspective on birth control! Apparently that’s too much to ask for from the Internet.

  8. My awesome husband is getting a vasectomy some time this year. I was going to do a copper IUD in the interim (it was 100% covered for me too) but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the effort to only have it in for a year (and ok, I’m lazy). BUT since I’ve been married, I’ve never used hormonal birth control (I hated how it made me feel too) and no scares; neither pregnancy was an accident. 🙂 So you may be incredibly fertile like me and just be really good at FAM!

  9. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been considering an IUD just due thinking about the almost ten years I’ve been on hormonal birth control. Definitely something I need to bring up with my doctor. I think it is interesting that they are now encouraging first recommendation for birth control is an IUD. When I was in college, a local center offered free Implanon (hormonal implant in the inner arm) and I took advantage of that.

    When Matt and I went to our “engaged encounter” session before we were married we watched a video on Natural Family Planning and I thought it was interesting. I could see it being useful later in my life but right now I like the reliability of hormonal birth control.

    Also I wanted to share this article on the long term effectiveness of birth control and comparison of the different methods. I found it really interesting! http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/14/sunday-review/unplanned-pregnancies.html?WT.mc_id=AD-D-E-KEYWEE-SOC-FP-DEC-AUD-DEV-MOB-1201-1231&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=AD1214KW&kwp_0=5824&_r=0

    1. That is an interesting chart!

      When we went to Pre-Cana, the priest talked about how birth control will poison your body. Uh, yeah, won’t a kid??? Haha. Once I started reading up on the Fertility Awareness Method stuff, it was pretty interesting. It required a lot of work – if you were doing all of the methods, you were not only charting your cycle, but charting your cervical placement and discharge, taking your temp every morning and probably don’t more stuff. I didn’t do all of it, but it was interesting (to me, maybe gross to others) how your discharge changes during your cycle.

  10. So awesome! I’m a huge fan of IUDs and think they’re just great. I got mine shortly after 6 weeks postpartum and just got it out in October, when we decided we were going for kiddo dos. I’m glad you had such a positive experience with everything and are willing to talk about it because I think many people have these old-timey ideas about IUDs still. I read your other post and was so happy that your procedure went smoothly too because I remember thinking mine felt like low level contractions (not exactly comfortable….manageable but not comfortable). Anyway, yay IUDs! (Oh, and not having a period for the past 4 years was uhhhhhmazing).

    1. I’m all for being open in the hopes that it reduces the shame/embarrassment/whatever many women feel around these things. We all manage our reproduction somehow. May as well talk about it!

  11. I can’t use the pill or any hormones since I had a blood clot (which could have been influenced by estrogen after 20 years of pill taking) so I have been planning to get an IUD for 3 years and we have been using condoms. I keep chickening out. Maybe I will go for it this year. One of my roommates from college is an OBGYN and she uses an IUD and clearly recommends it for me. Thanks for the post, Maggie!

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