My Paragard IUD’s name is Ingrid. She can be a huge bitch sometimes, but as long as she does her job, we’re going to continue to be the best of friends. I’m going to tell you a bit about Ingrid – my IUD insertion story. This post is largely about my Paragard IUD (as opposed to Mirena or Skyla). If you’re unsure if an IUD is right for you, check out this post on Bedsider. If you’re unsure about which IUD is right for you, this post on Bedsider is a good start, too.
My Birth Control Journey
I started taking the pill when I was 20. I wasn’t very good about being on the pill – taking a pill at the same time everyday was difficult for me. After about two years, I opted for Nuva Ring, a flexible plastic ring that gets inserted into the vagina. I liked this – I didn’t have to think about it everyday. I thought about it twice a month instead. Unfortunately, the Nuva Ring caused some serious side effects for me. Instead of just being irritable and sad the week before my period like before, I was feeling irritable, sad, depressed, and hopeless all the time. Granted, I was dealing with graduating college and trying to figure out my next step – but the additional hormones were not helping. One day in October of 2013, I took action and took my Nuva Ring out. I starting looking for non-hormonal options because with my active sex life and disinterest in bearing children, I NEEDED to be on birth control.
A friend told me about the Paragard IUD.
- How Paragard Works: The Paragard IUD contains no hormones, but it does contain Copper (for those of you with metal allergies). The Copper works by immobilizing sperm. Those little guys just get stuck in their tracks when they encounter a uterus with a Copper ninja. No happy-fun-time for them – the fun has already been had. Copper friend to the rescue.
- Paragard Possible Side Effects: heavier periods, longer periods, more painful periods
- Paragard Benefits: no babies, no accidentally forgetting to take your birth control, lasts for up to 12 years, privacy of no one else knowing what birth control you use (unless you tell them), reversible if you decide you want to have babies, no hormones.
- FREE PARAGARD: I live in Wisconsin, USA. I was able to get my IUD for free through Planned Parenthood because my income qualified me for such services. See if the Planned Parenthood nearest you has a plan for people with lower incomes.
- BEFORE YOU GO TO THE APPOINTMENT
- Take Ibuprofen an hour before.
- I had my partner drive me to my appointment. I was happy I made this decision afterwards.
- Insertion Process: My normal period is pretty heavy and the cramps are painful. My OBGYN was nervous for me about getting the Paragard IUD due to the common side effects. I was more nervous about the insertion process, which I heard from friends and online was pretty painful. Here’s what happened:
- Pregnancy Test and STI Test
- Pelvic Exam: Feet up, let’s spread, it’s time to get down to business. The OBGYN inserts a gloved finger into the vagina and uses other hand to press down on abdomen to feel for ovaries. Just like every other annual check up.
- Swabs Cervix with Antiseptic: This makes your cervix look purple instead of pink. This will keep the germs out.
- Speculum inserted: This speculum (“Duck Lips”) is longer and bigger than the average annual exam speculum. You’ll notice the size difference. It doesn’t hurt – it’s just not comfortable.
- Stabilize the Cervix: Your cervix is really good at doing her job. She determines what comes out and what goes in. In order to get your IUD in, a fancy tool called a tenaculum is used to basically clamp your cervix in one place. (I always picture trying to get something in an unclamped cervix as something akin to a pink dancing donut.) This doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t feel very comfortable. It does feel like something has a solid grab on a part of you that you didn’t know had feeling.
- Measure the Uterus: Next, the OBGYN will insert a uterine sound into your uterus to measure its size. Some uteri are not large enough for IUDs. A uterus must measure at least 6 cm to allow for an IUD. This uterine sound looks super intimidating. For this part, my cervix would NOT allow that sound inside. Nope. My OBGYN said, “Your cervix is just doing her job, but she’s making my job harder.” It took about five minutes for me to relax enough so my cervix would let her stick the uterine sound in. In my attempt to relax, I accidentally started hyperventilating, but really, this part is just mind over matter.
- What this feels like: The sensation is odd. I couldn’t actually feel the sound going in – I could only feel my cervix’s response to it. Which was a huge fucking cramp. This is the best way I can describe it. Once your uterus is measured, the uterine sound comes out.
- KATE TIP: RELAX.
- IUD is inserted: The OBGYN is doing a lot more with different mechanisms to get the IUD in. All I noticed were two things:
- When she stuck something in my cervix again: It felt like the uterine sound did – like a huge fucking cramp. Not great, but not so bad.
- When she opened up the IUD arms: HOLY SHIT. WOW. I DIDN’T KNOW I HAD FEELING IN THERE. I felt the IUD arms open up in a place in my body that hasn’t been touched before. Guess what it felt like? A HUGE FUCKING CRAMP.
- Insertion Tube is pulled out: The tube gets pulled out. You now have a T shaped friend in your uterus.
- Strings are trimmed: The IUD has strings at the bottom of it. These strings serve a few purposes:
- They assist in removal (done by a doctor when that time comes).
- They help you know if your IUD is too low or high, based on length of strings.
- Check your strings: It is recommended you feel for your strings so you know how long they should be.
- I named my IUD “Ingrid.”
- I sat in my passenger seat with my hands on my abdomen like I was now carrying something incredibly precious (BECAUSE I AM!).
- I was convinced I could feel it in there. (If I could then, I can’t now.)
Ingrid and I have been living (almost) happily ever after for 1 1/2 years now. (More on that in another post.)
Looking for more IUD info? Check out my IUD community HERE.