Now that you know why I chose the IUD, here was my experience getting it in.
TL; DR: I realize every woman is different, but it wasn’t that bad. For me. I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe I just built it up so much that I expected it to be one of the worst experiences in my life. Maybe nothing will beat getting packing ripped out of my nose post-rhinoplasty. Maybe, as my gyno said, I have a good cervix for it. Way to go, cervix!
The whole process started in the fall at my annual check-up, when I asked my doc about getting the IUD. She went over the basics, and during my pap smear told me I’d be a good candidate for it. (I asked, and I think she said that I don’t tense up when she was … all up in my business.) My doc told me I should get it inserted while I’m on my period (since you naturally dilate a little bit?), so just wait for it to come, then call the office and see when they can fit me in.
Well, to be honest, as a result of my internet research, I got nervous, and kept putting it off. Finally, three cycles later, my period came, I gathered my courage, and called to make the appointment.
So, step one to joining the IUD club, talk to your doctor about it. She’ll likely want to make sure you aren’t pregnant and don’t currently have any STDs (the IUD can make complications worse).
If you get the green light, step two, make the appointment when you’re menstruating. Meaning, wait for it to come, then call the office and hope they have something in the next few days that works for you. (I was able to leave work early in order to make it in.)
Step three, take 800mg of ibuprofen about an hour beforehand. (That would be 4 tablets.) Some women also had their doctor apply some lidocaine gel to numb their cervix. Mine did not. Might not have helped anyway. Some women get a shot in their cervix, but personally, considering how quickly the procedure is over, that seems kind of pointless.
Step four, go to your appointment. It wasn’t totally pain-free, don’t get me wrong. My husband came to the appointment with me, which in hindsight wasn’t necessary, but helped put me at ease.
The procedure starts off like a pap smear. The IUD is inserted with a … doo-hicky. What I felt was like a realllllly bad menstrual cramp. Twice. My doc warned me before each. I took deep breaths, and closed my eyes during the second one. My husband was by my side, and held my hand, kissed my forehead, and started talking to me about our cat to distract me. God bless that man.
Once the IUD was in, and the doo-hicky removed, my doc went back up with her fingers and put the strings in place. (There are strings dangling through your cervix, for removal purposes, but also so you still know it’s there.)
And that was it. Luckily, she said removal is much easier. She answered some more questions. (We can do it whenever I feel up for it. My husband can’t “disrupt” it, unless he has piercings.)
I did need a few moments to collect myself before getting off the exam table, but thankfully, I felt fine. Considering the doctor has to forcibly dilate your cervix, some women’s bodies respond like they are going into shock. But perhaps my “good cervix” was easy to work with so my body didn’t freak out. Regardless, it’s a good idea to have someone with you if possible. Make sure you eat something that day. Stay hydrated. Etc. (So … prepare like it’s a race. But like a 5K. It is over pretty quickly.)
I was told that I could expect cramping for the next 48 hours. The internet led me to believe I would be curled up in the fetal position with a heating pad almost surgically attached to me. I even cancelled my plans for that evening. But, I guess the drugs I took beforehand (800mg of ibuprofen) really worked, because I felt nothing for the rest of the evening. Around 3am, I woke up and felt very mild cramps, so I took a normal dose of ibuprofen and went back to bed.
The next afternoon hour (roughly 24 hours after insertion), I did start to feel some mild cramping that wasn’t so much painful as it was uncomfortable. It was like the cramps that feel like bad gas. My period also got much lighter immediately after the IUD was inserted, which I was not expecting, but you know, pretty cool. I have experienced some spotting since then though.
In a month, I get it checked to make sure everything is all good, otherwise, as long as it remains in place, my risk of pregnancy is lower than if I were sterilized. Woot.
If you’re interested in the IUD for yourself, ask your doc about it! I’m glad I did. Do some reading up online, but stick to trusted sources that aren’t just anecdotal, and if you start reading personal accounts, realize that every woman is different (apparently some of us have a cervix that is really easy to work with), and those who had bad experiences are likely to be more vocal.
Sticking to fur babies for now.