Having been in a steady relationship throughout the latter half of high school and heading into college, birth control and safe sex became an important matter in my life. I was on a birth control pill for over a year and experienced no side effects (and especially important – no pregnancy.) When some stroke-like symptoms forced me off of my pill, I was lost. I wanted to be on a highly effective method of birth control, so different pills weren't good enough for me. I was terrified of needles, so the shot was out of the question. One option was constantly pushed by my mom, pediatrician, neurologist, and gynecologist: an IUD.
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a plastic or copper "T" shaped device that is inserted into your uterus. There are different advantages and disadvantages to both types of IUDs. I chose to have Mirena inserted, which is made of plastic and works by releasing a hormone called progestin into the uterus to prevent pregnancy at a rate of over 99 percent for up to 5 years.
In the weeks leading up to my appointment, I researched everything I could about IUD insertion online. Don't do this. I read so many horror stories on different websites and blogs and watched reaction videos on YouTube for hours. I was sure that I would not make it through the simple 5 minute procedure.
Eventually, insertion day came and I bawled my eyes out. All day long. My friends were kind enough to not screenshot my snapchats, but here's a brief idea of how I was feeling.
I had taken anxiety medication before the procedure per recommendation of my gyno and took some Motrin on top of that. I also was given some medication to soften my cervix the night before, which the doctor said during the insertion "did what it was supposed to do." Whatever that is.
When I finally sat in the chair and had my mom come in the room, leave and come back again, everyone around me was physically ready for the procedure so I mustered up my courage to begin. The doctor explained the procedure to me again, though with all the researching I had done, I probably could have explained it to her. They use tools to open the vagina and cervix, sterilize the area, then measure the depth of your uterus before finally inserting the IUD. It's okay to shudder while you think about it, because it's not a pretty picture. I was absolutely terrified.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but my IUD insertion was a breeze. It wasn't painful at all – I felt several sharp pinches at different points of the procedure, but nothing worth complaining about. My doctor also made sure to explain everything she was doing as she was doing it – she let me know which parts usually hurt other patients and when each step was over. She allowed me to take my time and catch my breath in between steps, which was so important to me. After everything was done, I rested for a few minutes on the table and drank some water before leaving with nothing but a mild stomachache. I had minor cramps and nausea for two days after, but was totally back to normal within the week.
If you're anything like me and considering having an IUD inserted, but the insertion process is throwing you for a loop, do it. The procedure will be different for everyone, and maybe I got lucky, maybe I just psyched myself out or maybe the procedure isn't all that painful. The insertion process was so not worth my hours of freaking out, and while I had no trouble remembering to take my pill before, it is a huge relief to know I am protected no matter when or what I do. Getting an IUD was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself, and if you're feeling at all like me, I would urge you to talk to your doctor and do it.
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