Q: Ok, why on earth would a girl get an IUD (intrauterine device) when there are less invasive forms of birth control out there?
A: IUDs are a great option because you can ‘set it and forget it.’ With an IUD, you don’t have to remember to take anything at the same time every day, and you can have as much or as little sex you want as soon as it’s in place.
Specifically, if I met someone tomorrow, I could have sex and not have to wait for a week for any hormonal birth control to start working (though if it IS someone you just met, it’s certainly best to use a condom regardless. You can still catch STDs). With an IUD the contraception “coverage” is instantaneous. You don’t have to worry if you took your pill yesterday, or if you removed your vaginal ring during the wrong week (little things like that could unintentionally lead to pregnancy).
Q: What kind of girl chooses to get an IUD?
A: Someone who chooses to get an IUD is a person who can handle the idea of having something inside her all of the time (although you don’t feel it); she may be someone who is forgetful about taking pills, inserting rings, getting shots; and, depending on the type of IUD you get, she could just be someone who would rather have a ‘bit of blood’ occasionally than a “bit of having a baby” down the line. Also, some women are just sick of getting their period, so again, depending on the type of IUD you choose, you can opt not to get a monthly period while it’s in place (more on this later).
Q: What does it feel like to have an IUD in your uterus?
A: You could ride a horse and you wouldn’t feel it! Putting it in and removing it is the only time you’ll ever feel it.
Q: Ok walk me through it. How long does the procedure take, what does it entail, and what measures are taken to ease the pain?
A: 1. You take ibuprofen on your way to the clinic so it kicks in just in time. 2. You fill out paperwork and wait for your provider to come in. 3. Your provider has to measure the length of your uterus (which turns out is only centimeters long) and this can feel a bit crampy, like a sore tooth (but down in your guts). 4. The IUD is then inserted at the length of your uterus (think couture for your uterus), the arms of the “T” are inserted, folded down, and once in the uterus, the arms of the “T” fold out (picture: a phoenix rising from the ashes).
The whole visit from walking in to checking out takes about 20 minutes, and when you are done using an IUD and wish to remove it, the removal procedure literally takes seconds and is not as crampy.
Q: Why is an IUD worth it if it’s painful (this is kind of similar to question #1, but remind us one more time..)
A: “Painful” is a bit of a strong word – and is subjective. When I had my own IUD inserted, it felt like a tiny punch in my uterus and then my uterus throbbed for a whole 24 hours (I took an anti inflammatory pill) and then *poof!*….done. It was worth it for me because I then had one less thing to remember in my crazy-busy life. I felt free, in a way.
Q: If an IUD was a famous badass woman from history, who would she be and why?
A: Hmm. There are two types of IUDs, and I think they have two different personalities. The Mirena IUD would definitely be Gloria Steinem, because it sounds so soft and lady-like and is so good at what it does. A true, classy feminist.
Q: Do I need health insurance to get an IUD?
A: Most insurances will cover it.
Q: Do I need my parent’s consent to get an IUD?
Q: If I decide not to get an IUD because ouch, what is my next best bet for birth control?
A: Based on the young patients I see, the NuvaRing or hormonal birth control pills are common. If you opt for the NuvaRing, however, you do have to be comfortable with your own vagina – you have to reach up your vagina with your own finger to place the ring in, adjust it as needed, and to remove it every three weeks.
Q: What are some common issues and myths that surround IUD’s?
A: I hear a few different issues from patients:
“With the Paragard IUD, I bleed too much.” – Often, patients want it removed after insertion. You should know that this is a common side effect of the Paraguard IUD and, at best, it’s just a nuisance. Try to think about this before getting one put in (but keep in mind that it’s still better than an unwanted pregnancy).
“With the Mirena IUD I don’t get my period, and I think that’s bad.” – This is the number one side effect patients bring up, but it makes sense and isn’t problematic. The Mirena IUD has hormones that decrease the lining of the uterus, so there is nothing to shed. Hormonal birth control pills simply trick your body into thinking it’s already pregnant, and you don’t get your period when you’re pregnant.
“My boyfriend said he can feel the strings, I want the IUD removed.” – There’s no way he can feel the strings, and the strings are like dental floss, so tell him to calm down.
As is the case with any form of contraception, there can always be some complications – but let your providers worry about that. If you’re young and healthy, you’re truly not on the list of potential dangers.
Also, keep in mind that there are two types of IUDs to choose from; one of them lasts for 10 years and one lasts for 5 years. That is just how long they last – if you put one in and decided you wanted to have a baby the very next year, however, that is totally possible. Just have it removed.
Q: If an IUD could tell me something about my body, what would it whisper to me?
A: “Look how magical you are.”
Have you ever relied on an IUD as a form of contraception? What were your experiences? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.