I switched birth control at the end of last year. I wanted something that would not have as much of an affect on my ability to lose weight as the oestrogen based 'Nuva Ring' did. I also wanted something that was more cost effective, as I was paying out around $70 for 3 months worth. I didn't want to remember to take a pill every day. My success rate for not getting pregnant would get thrown out the window if I relied on my memory.
I asked a group of around 30 close friends, all in committed relationships for years and all with kids, what birth control they use and why. Then I spoke to my Doctor about my concerns and decided that the IUD was the way to go for me. The Mirena IUD I have is progesterone based, which shouldn't affect my weight. Now that I have it I wish I had gotten it years ago. It's the easiest contraceptive I've ever tried and I think I've tried about 5 kinds now.
I decided I had to share this information with you, especially after speaking with my Doctor friend, Phoebe, about the misinformation that's out there for women regarding this form of contraception. There's stories out there that date back 15 year or more when the IUD wasn't as fail-proof. Even some friends who heard I was getting one told me their own mother's became pregnant using an IUD. "Ummmm....how old is your mother now?" The other horror stories women hear happen to only a very small number of women, or are just old wives tales because they've been passed around so much.
The procedure was done by one of the Doctors who has been specially trained in IUD insertion. It just so happens that was my Doctor. He gave me a script for it at our consult and I brought it back to the practice at my next appointment. I'm glad I went kid-free to the appointment because there's no way I'd want my son in there for that procedure, even if he's little and the procedure only takes a little while. I was told to make the appointment time when I would be having my period, as this makes it easier to insert into the cervix. If you don't understand why that is then please read my post on the cervix here. That link will also you take you to another link with photos of a real life cervix.
The procedure itself didn't take much more time than a pap smear. While the Doctor was inserting it he also took care of some painful scar tissue, left from my son's birth, using an injection of anaesthetic. So if you are suffering from the same painful scaring make sure you speak to your OB or GP about it because you might be a simple injection away from feeling better like I do now.
After the IUD procedure I suffered from very bad cramps. It's recommended you take ibuprofen before your appointment. I was able to drive myself home but spent a few hours in bed afterwards sleeping off the pain with a wheat bag. I picked up a close friend today from her appointment with the same cramps, but she felt better after a couple hours.
The next day I felt fine. I've had some spotting since but nothing like I thought, not even anything requiring a pad. My periods, when I do have them, are light and some months I don't even have a period. This freaked me out at first, not only because that's usually a sign of pregnancy, but also because it's just been a part of my life since I was 12. It seems like it would affect my future fertility in some way but I know that's not true.
I've taken time on here to answer some of the biggest questions women have about the IUD.
It's one of the most widely used birth controls in Europe but Aussie women seem to be too afraid of the idea of having a "foreign body" in their body. But as my friend pointed out, that's still a whole lot better than a baby body in your body, if you aren't ready for one.
15 Questions About the IUD You Were Too Embarrassed To Ask
Q: What is it?
A: IUD stands for Intrauterine Device. It's a form of birth control that is inserted through the vagina and into the cervix by a doctor specially trained in its insertion. The device is very small, flexible and shaped like the letter T. It's important to note that IUD's are for birth control use and do not protect against STIs!
Q: What's it made of?
A:The two most widely used forms of IUD are ParaGard (it's copper and no hormones), and Mirena (it's plastic and uses hormones).
Years ago, IUD's were made with a string attached that would act like a wick, drawing infection through the cervix into the uterus from the vagina, sometimes causing infertility. For that reason Dr's used to fear inserting them into women who had not had children yet. But 10 - 15 years ago the design started to change and became a whole lot better. They started to be made with non-absorbent strings therefore cutting out the risk of infertility from that cause.
Find out more about the differences with Copper Vs Plastic here.
Q: How effective is it against pregnancy?
A: It's over 99% effective, and is one of the most effective birth controls on the market.
Q: Can the Dr get it out if I do fall pregnant?
A: If it's early enough in the pregnancy the Doctor should be able to remove it. This removal is associated with a small chance of miscarriage.
Q: Will I feel it once it's in place?
A: You or your partner should not feel the IUD once it is in place. However, with a clean finger in your vagina you will be able to feel the strings of the IUD. They feel like fishing line. You can get the IUD removed by your Doctor at any time. The removal can be done by any general practitioner because it's far easier to do than insertion.
Q: Can it fall out?
A: Yes, and this is called 'expulsion' but it only happens in about 5 out of every 100 women who get the IUD. You can check regularly by feeling for the IUD strings in case you're worried it's happened to you.
Q: How long does it last?
A: The Mirena lasts around 5 years, while the newest IUD on the market lasts only 3 years.
Q: Does it hurt to have inserted?
A: Not going to lie. Yup. It's uncomfortable, and the level of pain you experience is subjective. It's a bit more painful than a pap smear, but a very tolerable discomfort. And you only have to do the insertion once every 5 years, so it's worth it. Another upside is that it's nothing at all like giving birth, or having a ripped vagina from birth. Am I right, ladies?
Q: Will I still have periods?
A: Most women's flows are decreased or stop all together (see my own story above). "Up to 65% of women end up with no bleeding at all after 12 months of use." - Family Planning NSW
Q: How long after getting it out can I try and get pregnant?
A: You can try right away, but my own Doctor recommended that it comes out a couple of months before actively trying to get pregnant so that your cycle has a chance to go back to regular.
Q: Why is an IUD better than the Pill?
A: For starters, you don't have to remember to take it every day day. And you don't have to freak out about pregnancy anymore from forgetting to take one of those tiny pills. I was using the 'Nuva Ring' before this, so for me it was nice not to have to remember to take that out every 3 weeks at the exact time, and put in a new one a week later a the same exact time. It's progesterone based as well so that may affect some women in a more positive way than an oestrogen based birth control pill.
Q: Can I have sex in the week before hand?
A: That depends on whether you are already on a birth control. If you are then you should be covered. It may also depend on whether you are getting the IUD placed on your period. Check with your Doctor.
Q: What's the best time of my cycle to get it placed?
A: In case you missed my answer on this one in my story above, the answer is during your period because that's when your cervix is easier to find.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: This varies greatly based on your doctor's own fees and charges. Ask for all costs associated with it your first phone call to the Dr's office. For me it cost the price of the prescription, $37.70, because my Doctor bulk billed both my consult and my procedure. Even if he had charged me the appointment costs the IUD would still work out a whole lot less expensive than my previous contraceptive.
My friend who got hers done at Family Planning NSW had a NSW healthcare card and it only cost her the concession of $6.10 all up.
Q: Can the IUD increase sex-drive?
A: Worked for me.
I love getting women informed about their choices and their bodies. Here's another post I wrote for the ladies ...