(before reading this post, click here to find out why I chose to get an IUD)
As of last June, I am officially a member of the IUD secret society. While I have personally told everyone from my best friend to my hair stylist about this marvelous device, many women simply don’t talk about it. And I think that’s a real shame. Here’s the whole truth about getting my IUD and what to expect when you’re expecting an IUD:
Before the Appointment
My gynecologist didn’t give me any pre-procedure instructions but I wasn’t satisfied with doing nothing to prepare.
I scoured the Internet for pain management tips and learned that taking 800 mg of ibuprofen a half hour before your appointment can reduce discomfort upon insertion of the IUD and quell cramps afterward. I figured it couldn’t hurt and I followed this advice.
I also decided to break my No Sweatpants in Public rule for this occasion…
At the Office
When I arrived at the office, I signed in as is the custom and within a few minutes a nurse called me to the front desk. She handed me a plastic cup for a urine sample. I wasn’t expecting this but I did remember my gynecologist mentioning something about needing to rule out pregnancy and infection so it made sense.
After my pee test, I awkwardly walked back to the waiting room, not making much eye contact since everyone knows I just peed in a cup, and inevitably on my hands. I washed them, don’t judge me.
I started to get nervous awaiting my call back to the exam room. I was sitting next to some sweet elderly ladies each accompanied by their grown daughters. What would they think of all this IUD business?
During the Exam
Once taken back to the exam room, I was instructed to remove my clothes from my waist down. I was happy to keep my “Let the Good Times Roll” sleeveless t-shirt on because it made me chuckle with irony.
My enthusiasm waned after spotting the largest medical tools- OMG what are those for?– ever known to mankind. I wondered if I could just call the nurse back in and tell her I changed my mind.
And then my doctor walked into the room. We exchanged polite pleasantries and the good times began to roll…
It started out much like a routine gynecological exam. My doctor used a speculum to open my cervix. Even writing that makes my uterus twinge a little. This was only mildly uncomfortable as all you ladies know.
Once the speculum was in place, my doctor somehow checked (pulled a lever maybe) if she would be able to insert the Mirena without having to use “the torture device,” as she so fittingly named it. She apologized as she would need to use it and in a moment, I experienced otherworldly pain. I don’t say this to scare you, rather to prepare you.
With gritted teeth and clenched fists, I made it through what my doctor later told me was a contraction. I was expecting some cramping but this was quite a different experience. The pain somehow hit me in the pit of my stomach and nearly took my breath away. I’ve always had respect for mothers but having this tiny experience with labor pains has made me even more in awe. I will say it further strengthened my resolve to not have children though. I was so thankful that as soon as the IUD was in place, the pain subsided.
I was able to sit up immediately after the doctor removed all of the metal devices holding my lady bits open and, other than being a little shaky, I felt fine. I put on my sweatpants and walked to the front desk to make my appointment to return in 4-6 weeks. This appointment is also referred to as a string check. Intrauterine devices have two thin strings attached to them that essentially act as a fail-safe. If the strings cannot be felt when checked or if they have shifted, it is a sign that the IUD is no longer in the correct position.
I drove myself home feeling relieved that it was over and also strangely proud of myself for getting it done. Yay me!
After the Procedure
I rested for the majority of the day on the couch with my favorite heating pad. I also rewarded myself with an entire pint of gelato. I still feel that was well deserved.
Although I can’t know for sure, I do believe the ibuprofen definitely helped with cramps. I had some light spotting in the hours after the procedure but didn’t experience cramps until late that night. Even then, they were tolerable. I did feel some pressure along my left side and got the heebie-jeebies every time I thought about a foreign object being suspended in my uterus. It is kind of creepy after all, isn’t it?
I returned to work the next day and continued to have some mild to moderate cramping and light spotting. This happened intermittently for two weeks but both the cramping and the bleeding subsided more and more each day. For some unexplained reason, I would only have cramps midday. I’m not sure if there is any correlation but I do tend be less active in the early afternoon.
Now that nearly eight months have passed, I’m ecstatic to say I am among the 20% of women whose periods subsided completely within one year of using Mirena. I never feel the IUD’s presence and most days forget I even have one.
One minute of pain is well worth five years of birth control, in my opinion. Living without heavy bleeding and menstrual cramps for five years are also wonderful perks. I have already decided to have this IUD replaced when the time comes.
Do you think I described this procedure accurately? Let me know your IUD stories below.
This article was mentioned on Married Without Children. Click here to listen.